Article #14 - Mental Skills & Recent Sporting Events: Padraig Harrington Discusses Confidence after Shooting a 64 at Bridgestone (Originally Published in 2009)

It’s no secret that three-time major winner Padraig Harrington has been struggling for several months.  His performance so far this year has left him outside of the group of golfers who will qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs.  How do you suppose his lackluster level of play would impact on his degree of confidence? 

Harrington was interviewed by Scott Crockett after his first round 64 at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational.  In the interview, Crockett asked Harrington about how shooting 64 would affect Harrington’s confidence level.  And although some of Padraig’s responses were a bit convoluted (as is often the case in any live interview) he explained how he tends to maintain a fairly consistent and healthy level of confidence, regardless of his recent performances.

Harrington suggested that confidence needs to come from inside of oneself, as opposed to being the result of how one is currently performing.  He stated, “I shouldn’t get influenced by the highs and lows of a particular round of golf.  If I shot a poor score, I shouldn’t lose confidence by that, so… one score isn’t going to make me feel great about my game either.  If I have to wait for a good score, that’s not a good idea.  You’ve got to have internal confidence rather than wait for scores like that.”

Harrington indicated that he thinks it’s foolish to get too high or to low about what is happening on the course.  When this occurs, he suggested, the golfer is allowing the results of his play determine how he feels about himself and how much self-confidence he has.  He further explained that rather than letting results dictate how a golfer feels, “You should dictate how you feel about yourself to change your results.”

I think most golfers can learn a great deal from a guy like Padraig Harrington.  He hasn’t been playing well as of late, yet he still maintains a high level of confidence.  One of his key mental skills is his ability to consciously decide how he feels about himself, how confident he is going to be, regardless of his recent outcomes.  Stop and think for a moment about how powerful this concept is; instead of allowing your confidence to ebb and flow with the currents of recent performances, you make the conscious determination to maintain a steady and healthy level of confidence

I think this type of thinking is essential to any athlete wishing to become the best at what he or she does.  I don’t know anyone that doesn’t believe that confidence is crucial to success.  To have the absolute optimum chance of competing at your best, you need to have confidence, and you need to maintain your confidence.  So start every competition with confidence, and make a conscious commitment to yourself to maintain that confidence no matter what!  Follow through with this type of thinking, and I’ll see you at the awards ceremony!

Kevin J. Roby, Ph.D., MGCP