You idiot! You suck. You’re so bad at golf. Why do you even play this game?!

Ever said those things to yourself? Most of us have. Turns out, surprise, they aren’t helpful. In fact, talking to yourself like that does way more damage than you think. The words you say to yourself before and during a round have the potential to fundamentally change the way your muscles move.  So no matter how hard you’re trying to hit the ball well if you aren’t talking to yourself well, you won’t be able to succeed. 

Now, talking to ourselves well does not mean a pep talk in the mirror about being one of the best golfers ever (unless Brooks, Rory, Tiger, Justin, etc. are reading this ((heyyyy!))…then you, kind sirs, should continue those pep talks!). It means that you engage in optimistic and realistic talk. No rainbows and butterflies. Positive realism is the goal. 

Celebrate past success, focus on what you want to do, and forge an optimistic and realistic path forward. 

You’ve been putting great lately, trust your swing and let’s keep it going. 

I see where I want this ball to land and I’m going to put it there. 

Ok, bad shot, I can recover. I’ve done this before. 

 I can make this shot.

You’re killing it today, let’s keep it up! 

Calm. Reasonable. Realistic. 

But Dr. Day, what do I do mid-spiral? What if I realize I’ve been a negative Nancy for 6 holes. Might as well toss in the towel now. 

Nope. It’s never too late. One time Yahoo Fantasy Sports told me I had a 1% chance of winning my fantasy football game so I went to bed. I woke up to realize I had won. If that doesn’t tell you that anything is possible, I don’t know what does!

As soon as you recognize how negative you are being – pause. Take a deep breath. Notice the thought and identify how to bring it to neutral or positive. 

“What a trash shot, you suck”. Let’s transform that. Deep breath. “Yikes, that’s not what I was going for. But you got this. Grab that wedge and hit the ball like you know you can”.  

The most important step is being aware of your thoughts. Notice them and be intentional. Find a way to take a negative thought and make it neutral to positive. You will hit bad shots. It’s ok to acknowledge that. But the second you turn that into a negative spiral, the bad shots will keep on coming. 

Quick tip – notice your thought – if you wouldn’t say it to a teenager you are teaching to golf, you shouldn’t say it to yourself. And if you WOULD tell a new teenage golfer that they are a piece of trash and should quit…well…we’ve got bigger issues.