Understanding negative golf self talk

 Becoming your own best caddy

golf self talk

Did you ever have a coach that constantly put you down? Nothing you did was good enough and this “not-so-nice” coach criticised you seemingly for everything you did. Going to practice was a chore. You started caring less and less. You most likely emotionally quit and just went through the motions on the practice course. It’s safe to say you probably didn’t like this coach much, nor viewed his methods in a positive manner.

Now think of the opposite of that negative coach… Think of one coach who believed in you… This motivating coach saw something special in you and encouraged you. This positive coach constantly built you up. When you made a mistake, this coach reminded you of your potential, gave you some constructive feedback and gently guided you back on track. This coach didn’t berate you after a mistake but remained positive and taught you how to play better in the future.   This coach never gave up on you. In return, you worked your tail off for this coach… You were motivated, committed and enjoying your practice sessions.

Most golfers find the behavior of negative coaches to be unacceptable. If you would not accept to be treated poorly by a coach, why would you treat yourself in that same negative manner. Your self-talk is the coach in your head. Why would you choose to beat yourself up for every mistake, bad swing, poor shot and less-than-your-best score?   One of the most powerful choices in golf is deciding what kind of coach you want to be to yourself. Do you want to be a positive, supportive coach to yourself or the type of coach that is negative and overbearing?

Golf is a crazy game of ups and downs, streaks and slumps, highs and lows. Every golfer needs a positive influence, a great coach to help them navigate through the rough patches and help them reach their potential… And that coach should be YOU!

If you could manage to be more positive with yourself: you will less afraid to take risks; you will feel more confident; you will try harder to achieve your objectives; you will be better prepared to manage adversity; and you will achieve more in the sport of golf.

Being a good coach to yourself means:

  • You don’t dwell on mistakes, you move past them quickly.
  • You encourage yourself, instead of put yourself down.
  • You give yourself credit for small successes, rather than magnifying bad holes.
  • You give yourself positive instruction, instead of verbal attacking yourself.
  • You treat yourself like a great coach would.


Make a list of the qualities of your ideal positive coach and the qualities of your worst possible negative coach. Notice what category you generally fall in to. Start to notice the self talk in your head and decide to take over the conversation. Coach yourself as if you were coaching a younger golfer. What types of things would you say after a bad shot, three-putting or a double bogey? A great way to get into the habit of being a good coach to yourself after a mistake is to ask yourself, “Ok Coach, what should I do now?”

Positive self-coaching will produce positive results!