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What Happens When We’re Nervous
What is it about pressure that causes our body to react so strangely. You may not even be all that nervous about the outcome, and for some reason, you can’t swing the same way, your putting goes bad, and you can’t even think straight?
It happens to all of us.
First of all, golf is hard. We tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves. Pressure to product perfection, when we know that perfection isn’t ever possible.
So how can we deal? How can be pull off good shots when we need them the most?
Start With A Positive Vision
I attended a golf clinic with 6-time Major Champion Winner Nick Faldo a few weeks back. It was unique because the clinic was intended for elite junior golfers who are trying to compete at the highest level. Nick let us into his mental game in an amazing way.
One big takeaway from the session was that he liked to watch an imaginary player (i.e., Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer for him) hit the shot before he did. This produced a beautiful vision of the shot before he stepped in and attempted it himself.
Have a Plan B
Nick also noted that through all his practicing, he was able to have a plan B, C, and D swings that he could fall back to when needed. This eased the pressure on his “A” swing for sure. He was extremely self aware, knowing which swings would produce certain shot shapes – and more importantly, which shots they wouldn’t produce.
Very helpful when you’re in a big tournament under lots of pressure.
Use Your Imagination
Fred Couples used to imagine that last perfect shot he hit with the club he was pulling out of the bag. When he was hitting a 5-iron, he thought back to the pure shot he hit with that club weeks before and tried to reproduce that feeling.
For me, when I’ve been really nervous at certain points in golf tournaments, I like to imagine I’m on a totally different golf course, on a comfortable hole at home. This really helps if you can really try to role play all the way through the shot.
There are lots of tricks…try them all and see which ones work best for you!