How to Calm Your Nerves on the Golf Course
In this guide we will talk about several methods to help you calm your nerves on the golf course.
Nerves are a natural part of golf and they should be considered a good thing. Playing golf with nerves can help keep you focused and making smarter golf course strategy decisions. But if the nerves start to become bothersome it can affect your performance.
At some point during your golf round, the pressure is going to kick on. Having prepared mentally for this pressure to ratchet up, you’ll be able to stay calm and control your nerves to help you continue to play your best golf and not let the pressure get to you.
Why Do We Get Nervous in Golf?
If you’re getting nervous at anything in life, not just on the golf course, it’s because you’re placing importance and value behind it and don’t want to fail and let yourself down.
Failure is usually fear driven and this occurs on the golf course when we worry about hitting a golf ball out of bounds, in water, in a bunker, etc. that can add extra strokes to our score.
It also occurs in our short game when we start to place pressure on ourselves to make a certain score and “NEED” to make the putt or hit a close chip to the hole to achieve the desired score.
The official science part of feeling fear is called “flight to response” and it’s when the nervous system in your body begins causing your heart to race, pumping blood through your muscles to help prepare you to fight.
Obviously in golf there is no real danger but the body reacts the same as if you were in a life or death situation where you have to fight for your life.
Let’s talk next about some ways to help calm your nerves on the golf course and reduce the effects of nervousness so you can continue to play golf at a high level and not let pressure build.
Control Your Nerves on the Golf Course By Doing This…
#1: Find Triggers that Get You Back into Optimal State of Mind
One of the best ways to calm your nerves on the golf course and handle pressure is to get your mindset back into an optimal state. When you play your best golf, you are usually more relaxed and pumped up at the same time.
After making a par or birdie, we usually head to the next hole more relaxed and in a positive state of mind. What mental thoughts do you usually think about during this time period that you can use to help you in a situation when you start to worry and fear.
Everyone handles fear, anger, frustration, anxiety differently so learn more about your mind and your thoughts and learn how to quickly get yourself back into a pumped up, happy place to calm your nerves.
#2: Practice Breathing Techniques to Relax Your Body
Another golf mental tip to help control your nerves and calm your body down is practicing breathing techniques.
When your heart starts racing, your chest gets tight and breathing feels more intense. Your inhale vs exhale rhythm changes from nervousness too.
The breathing technique you can try out involves taking long, slow inhales of air. Then hold it in for a few seconds once you’ve felt your stomach expand, and slowly exhale the air back out.
This slow, controlled breathing exercise will help calm down your heart rate and reduce the intense pounding you feel in your chest from your heart and nervous system cranking up under pressure.
When you focus your mind on breathing, slow inhales and exhales, it takes your mind off the fear that it was focusing on.
#3: Focus on Gratitude
Remember, golf is just a sport. It’s supposed to be fun and you should feel blessed to have the opportunity to get to play. Not everyone in the world knows about golf or cares about golf. You do, so feel thankful you found the sport and took time to try it out.
Also feel gratitude by thinking about all the people who want to play golf but can’t for financial reasons. It’s an expensive sport (golf clubs, golf course fees, golf shoes, golf clothes, golf balls) and not everyone in the world can afford to play even.
Focusing on gratitude and being appreciative of having the time freedom to step out and enjoy a nice day on the golf course brings you back into the moment with a new reality and sense of the world.
It’s a similar technique to when people think about how life could be worse. Family and friends could die tomorrow and that would truly be a tragic. Life isn’t so bad today after all when you think about those extreme realities that truly matter way beyond your golf score on a golf course.
For more on the golf mental game and tips to help you stay calm under pressure, check out this Golf Mental Game Book we wrote.