Psychologists have come up with an interesting twist on the old notion of the power of positive thinking: They've shown that you may be able to improve your golf game by believing the hole you're aiming for is larger than it really is.
Witt says along with a positive perception comes confidence — if the hill doesn't seem too steep, or the golf hole appears bigger than it really is, that altered perception gives you confidence in your abilities.
But Tim Woodman, who heads the School of Sport, Health and Exercise Science at Bangor University in Wales, says for athletes at least, just having more confidence doesn't guarantee top performance.
"It's not quite as simple as the more confident you are, the better," he says. "It's the more confident you are, the better — up to a certain point." He says that confidence is important, but self-doubt can help, too.
"If you're good at something but you doubt yourself a little bit, you're more likely to try that bit harder," he says. "Whereas if you are confident and you know you're very good at something, you might just slack off a little bit and move into some sort of cruise control, and then actually not perform very well."
Woodman says top athletes find the right balance between confidence and uncertainty to perform at their peak.