When considering the content for this week’s blog, I wanted to find a subject that isn’t regularly spoken about.
We all know the feeling, standing on the first tee with a crowd of people watching, hoping you just make some kind of contact on the ball. Or it could be the feeling of standing over a 4 ft putt to win a match or make par on the last hole.
Whether we like it or not, nerves are an important factor to consider when analysing performance on the golf course.
Personally I believe not enough golfers admit to feeling nervous. Whether that’s an ego thing or a defence mechanism I’m not sure. But I think it’s an important subject to address as a golfer. Once you can admit you’re feeling nervous, you can start to employ certain techniques to turn those nerves into something positive.
We should start with why you’re feeling nervous…
Is it the thought of looking silly in front of others? (Negative thinking)
Is it because you’re thinking about what it would mean to make par on the last hole? - (Result driven thinking)
Is it because of past bad experiences? (Negative thinking)
Think for a second, and be really honest with yourself. Work out why you’re feeling those nerves.
You’ll notice the above reasons are either related to negative thinking or result driven thinking. Neither of these ways of thinking are productive on the golf course.
Negative thinking can cause us to breathe quicker and our body to tense up, which generally won’t have a good effect on your physical performance.
Result driven thinking can make us focus on the result too much. Nobody wants to miss a 4ft putt, or hit the ball out of bounds. The goal is the same for every golfer, whether you’re a tour player or a club golfer. What differentiates the tour players is the ability to implement a system (routine) which is process driven. The result then takes care of itself.
How do we shift our thinking from negative to positive and from result driven to process driven? Try these 2 things:
Develop a consistent pre shot routine with a clear intention, rehearsal and execution phase. This consistency of routine will help you to focus on the job at hand rather than all the things that could possibly go wrong. A routine is designed to be very process driven and take emotion out of the shot.
Try changing the way you talk to yourself. Instead of “I don’t want to hit it in the water like I did on this hole last week” say “I’m going to aim this 10ft right of the flag, into the middle of the green and make a good swing” - (Positive). Instead of saying “If I miss this 4ft putt I’ll make bogey” - (Negative / Result Driven) say “I’m going to aim at this blade of grass and hit the best putt I can, the result will take care of itself” - (Positive/Process Driven)
Give these techniques a try. Over time, you should see a shift in the way you think and feel on the golf course. If you need any more help dealing with nerves on the course, consider joining G60. We provide pressurised practice in a group environment. This helps you prepare for those pressurised situations on the course.