Whether you play golf for recreation or in competition, you are likely encounter a case of nerves.
Nervousness even affects the best golf players in the world, men and women alike. Tom Watson, a professional golfer, had a hard time closing and winning tournaments when he first came out on the PGA Tour. This professional golfer went on to win 8 major championships.
Everyone is aware of Greg Norman’s struggles with pressure during his career. He won two majors, which is more than Fred Couples for those of you keeping track. Tour players are human, just like you, and they get nervous too. The difference is that professional golfers know how to perform when they are nervous.
First, embrace your nervousness on the golf course. Next, breathe and slow down when golfing. Then, visualize success. Finally, focus on the process, not the results on the golf course. Use these four ways to overcome nervousness on the golf course anytime you are feeling challenged by your anxiety.
Embrace your nervousness on the golf course
The first step in playing golf is to embrace your nervousness, if you have any. This embrace means admitting that you are actually nervous. You know when you are nervous and most likely so do your playing partners and competitors.
Begin by replacing the word “nervous” with “anxious”. “Anxious” sounds better and has a more positive ring to it. Fighting your nervousness will only make you more nervous and zap your energy. Look at playing golf while being nervous as a challenge. Now all of a sudden, your mind frame has changed from defensive to offensive.
Breathe and slow down when golfing
Consistent breathing is one of the best techniques to overcoming nervousness on the golf course. Take long, slow, deep breaths and slow down. This not only helps slow your heart rate, but has a calming effect mentally. Along with calming you down, consistent breathing helps more oxygen reach your brain, which in turn helps you think better. Nervous people tend to speed up and eventually you find yourself just trying to get the next shot over with. Don’t slow down so much that you interfere with pace of play, but slow your walk a little between shots. It will help calm your nerves so you can perform to your capabilities.
Visualize success in the game of golf
Visualization plays a major role in the game of golf. In many things that are mental like golf, you should have a good, positive picture of what you want before you perform. A good pre-shot routine will help you see in your mind what you want to do while also helping you get in a comfortable rhythm. There is not one tour player who doesn’t have a pre-shot routine. Furthermore, a pre-shot routine is something ANYONE can do well. Anyone can have a pre-shot routine that’s as good as the best players in the world. Practice your routine so it comes naturally when you are playing. Your pre-shot routine will become your comfort zone.
Focus on the process, not the results on the golf course
One of the major causes of nervousness is concentrating too much on the results instead of the process. Don’t worry about your score, concentrate on the shot at hand. The saying, “one shot at a time” is an old cliché but it is probably the most relevant saying in golf.
Like building a house, you wouldn’t focus on the windows or the roof before your slab is poured. The same principle applies here. In order to shoot the score you would be happy with, you must first hit the shots that will get you to that score. You are building something when you play golf, and each shot is a block in that building.
Augie Garrido, the baseball coach at The University of Texas, tells his players to play nine, one inning games during a game. Win each inning and you will win the game. If instead you start worrying about winning the game, you put pressure on yourself that decreases the level of your performance. Golf is no different. Key on each shot, one at a time, and in the end you are more likely to see the results you want.
These are just 4 techniques you can use to help you golf better when you are nervous. You may have some other ways to calm your nerves when you play. Get in close with nervousness, embrace it, and learn from it.
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