Do you hit the ball well on the driving range and then get so nervous when you stand on the first tee that you hit a bad shot? If you do, you are not alone! Getting nervous when the stakes increase is normal – even when you are just playing for ‘fun.’ Choking, or underperforming when you are nervous is also normal. But the good news is there are several strategies you can use to overcome them.
1. The best way to perform better under pressure is to practice under pressure! This may be playing more often with other golfers watching. Or it may be simulating pressure in your practice (videotaping yourself for example).
2. Distract yourself by thinking of something else! We choke when we start thinking too much about an action that is usually automatic. When you are warming up on the range you probably aren’t monitoring every aspect of your swing. So don’t do it on the first tee either! Distracting yourself means you won’t overthink your golf swing and will be able to perform like you did on the range.
3. Be aware of how your body reacts to pressure. Recognize that sweaty palms aren’t a terrible thing, they just mean you care about your performance. The next time you play, instead of dreading the first tee nerves, embrace and outsmart them!