Golf, like any sport, makes players tense and nervous building and this builds a lot of pressure. Whether you are golfing for fun with friends or for a tournament, we all feel some kind of pressure. It is this pressure that makes us tense.
How you handle this pressure to execute the perfect swing will determine how you play ultimately. Tension affects the execution of your golf swing. If there is tension in your golf swing, the fluidity and tempo of your golf swing will be ruined.
Many players complain about inconsistency on the field. A lot of this inconsistency stems from tension in the muscles. If you are ignorant of the tension in your muscles it can affect your entire timing and execution of the golf swing.
When your body is tense, it does not utilise the big muscles. This means that the hands get too involved. If the hands are too involved, the head of the club will not carry the weight of the swing as it should.
You, therefore, need to be aware of any tension in your body. This is so that you can get rid of it and swing freely.
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What causes tension?
We all have the desire to play perfectly on the golf course. Everyone wants to win even if there is no prize particularly involved. We, therefore, spend so much time thinking about how we might execute the perfect shots.
The more time we spend dwelling on these thoughts, the more the tension grows. The possibility of playing poorly plagues us. Performance anxiety heightens from all this worry.
Tension in the muscles is a direct result of performance anxiety. You should note that the more you try to control the tension, the worse the outcome of your shot. The result is that you will be thinking too much thus increasing the tension.
The small muscles in your wrists take the lead and a poor shot is an outcome. Your best shots are normally from the rounds where you don’t think so much. And though you may not know it, there is less tension during these moments.
How to prevent tension in the golf swing
You know that what you can train, you can trust. From your experience on the golf course, you can know what affects you the most and builds tension. It usually reflects even when you are on the training range.
You can therefore get rid of the tension in your swing since you have acknowledged that it is there in the first place. Now that you are aware that tension is probably the cause of your bad shots, here is how you can prevent it:
#1: Staying more present
One of the major causes of tension is losing focus. Our minds tend to go ahead to the moment when we have executed the move already. Imagining the success or failure to come builds tension.
Thinking about a goal you have set puts pressure on your game and builds tension. Your thoughts wander to previously missed shots and it affects your game. Stay in the moment and think only about the shot you are about to take.
Block out any sideline noise and focus solely on the shot. The best mental game is what wins the game. Practice to always stay in the moment with fun rounds as you prepare for any tournaments.
#2: Create a pre-shot routine for a relaxed swing
If you can rid yourself of tension during your pre-shot routine, you will perform better during your round. Use your breathing techniques during the pre-shot routine so that your tension has gone done when it comes to time to take your shot.
Take your deep breaths behind the golf ball and not when you are at it. When you have selected your club, stand behind the ball and make your practice swings. Then before you approach your shot, take quick breaths.
When you have approached the ball, you only need one look at your target before taking your shot. If you take long-standing over it, your tension will grow and you will start to overthink it.
#3: Adding a waggle
Adding a waggle to your swing is also a great technique. If you are static while looking at the ball and waiting to take your shot, it builds tension. A waggle gives you movement so that you do not feel like you are stuck in one position.
While standing over your target, move the clubhead back and forth over the ball. It reduces tension in your forearms and builds confidence. Do not overdo your waggle, as it could slow down your routine.
Keep it to one or two swings. Practice on the range so that you get used to it.
#4: Start with grip pressure
Keeping a death grip on your club ruins your chances. Holding your club tight does not improve your chances, but quite the opposite. You lose fluidity in your swing when the grip is too tight.
Apply less pressure to your hold on to the club. The tension in your forearm will reduce. This puts the big muscles in your shoulders into play. Your swing will then be more fluid.
Most inexperienced golfers apply the death grip onto the driver club. Increased grip however ruins the chances of the driver. Apply the same technique when you are putting.
When your grip pressure is high, the natural gripping arc will be affected and destruct your putting. Keep your hands relaxed.
#5: Breathing techniques
In tense situations, you will not be breathing like you normally do. If you took inventory of previous games where you have failed, you will realize you probably were not breathing right.
Nervousness and anxiety may cause you to hold your breath as you prepare for your shot. Make breathing practice on the practice range to prepare for the golf course.
Before you swing, take six deep breaths through your nose. Hold them for two seconds and exhale through your mouth. Breathing six times alters your state and provides the reset you need.
#6: Don’t stand over your golf ball too long
One of the common mistakes golfers make is spending too much time over the target. More time should be spent behind the ball doing the preshot routine and not over it.
When you move forward over the ball, it should be to take the shot. After you have taken your breaths, the next process when you go over to your ball should be a quick one.
The more you delay, the more tension is going to build up. Develop a trigger routine for yourself that makes it easy for you to take the shot. It can be one to two waggles but whatever you choose, practice and make it a habit.
Four Areas Where Tension Hides and How to Get Rid of It
Tension affects your swing speed, you need to be aware of tension points in your body so that you can relieve yourself. The tension in your body is counter-productive for everything you need to be a good golfer.
It affects your grip, your balance and your speed. Tension manifests in four main areas in our bodies, the jaws, forearms, shoulders and hands. While on the practice range, focus on these areas. Notice how you feel in these parts as you hit the ball.
To learn how to easily relieve tension, you should practice hitting the ball while you do the following;
#1: Soften your jaw;
Do not clench your teeth. teeth keep your jaws open a bit and even let some air in. This easily relieves the stress in your jaw especially when you are working a short game.
#2: Relax your shoulders;
Don’t hitch your shoulders. Relax them and let them loose before you swing. You will notice a difference even before you swing. Remember to continuously do this on the practice range.
It is easy to fall back into the habit of tensing up. You need to unlearn it with practice.
#3: Relax your forearms;
When you prepare to swing, your forearms should not be tense. Relax them before you take your shot. Practice this consistently.
#4: Experiment with different grip pressures;
On the practice range, try with varying pressure till you find a level that gives you the best results. Try with a firm grip and work down to a looser one. Learn to maintain consistent grip pressure throughout the swing.
You will notice an increase in your swing speed as you learn to relieve these areas of tension. A tight grip on your club builds tension in your downswing. This halts your clubhead and lowers your speed.
The downswing and the release are supposed to feel like you are letting go. That is what happens when you get rid of tension.
Golf is supposed to be fun. Get involved because you want to do it. With this in mind, you should be able to alleviate some of the tension.
Incorporate these techniques and with time it will all come easy. It will free you on the golf course and you will no doubt see a lot of better scores. When you have been able to reap the benefits of a swing free of tension, you will never want to go back.