As a golfer, you notice what other people are doing. You see their shots, you watch their scores unfold, you know their history. While sizing people up and comparing yourself to them is normal and can be helpful, oftentimes that comparison turns into intimidation and self-doubt.
If you’re in the habit of comparing yourself to others and you find that it’s making you more self-conscious, is causing you stress, or that you’re enjoying golf less, well then, that’s a habit you’ll want to break. Before you can make a change, do some reflection:
Who do you compare yourself to, and when?
Like much of life (and golf), you can’t make a change until you have awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
Take some time to think about:
- Who are you comparing yourself to? Is it a friend in your foursome? One of the pros? That player you don’t know but whose swing you admire? Take stock of who’s on your comparison roster.
- When are you doing the comparing? Is it when you’re already feeling frustrated about your own game? Is it more likely to happen when you’ve hit a bad shot? Usually, we start the comparison game when confidence is already low.
- How do you feel and what happens to your game? When you start to compare, what thoughts and feelings go through your head? And then does your play suffer or improve?
Chances are, comparison can leave you thinking negatively, feeling bad, and not playing your best. Not so great right?
Ready to break the negative comparison habit? Here’s how:
Strategy #1: Gratitude
By focusing on what you’re grateful for, you’re not as likely to be bothered by what other golfers are up to. Gratitude helps to wipe away negative feelings and stay focused on yourself. Develop a gratitude practice, for example, on each walk to the next hole, reflect on something you’re grateful for, or begin each outing with a couple of minutes to write down what you’re grateful for. Even if you’re not playing the comparison game, this is a good practice to get into.
Strategy #2: What can you learn?
Chances are when you’re comparing, there’s something you admire about the other player or that you wish for yourself. Take a step back and consider what you can learn from this person or how you can get closer to what the other golfer is doing. Then, take action on that. This way, you’re using the comparison in a positive way- to spur action and motivation, rather than letting it get you down.
Strategy #3: Compliment others
People love to hear positive feedback, and it feels good to give it. Not only that, but you might find others compliment you back, helping you identify your strengths and helping you become less likely to compare yourself to others in a way that makes you feel bad. Take the time regularly to give compliments to other golfers, especially those you tend to compare yourself with.
Comparison isn’t all bad; when used appropriately it can actually help you see what you’re good at, become motivated to improve and allow you to further connect with other golfers. But, when comparison with others is making you feel bad, and affects your confidence and your game, it’s time to make changes. Use these three tips on their own, or together, to help you get out of the comparison trap.