How to not be nervous in golf? (Tips)

In this guide, we will discuss “How to not be nervous in golf” and a few tips to overcome your nerves whether you are playing professionally or just with friends on a Sunday afternoon.

How to not be nervous in golf?

If you wonder ‘How to not be nervous in golf?’ is because you have experienced the unpleasant rush of adrenalin, the sweaty palms, increased heart rate and maybe difficulties breathing. Well, being nervous is completely normal, especially if you are facing a stressful situation that involves playing the sport. For instance, if you are about to play a golf tournament or you don’t play it at a professional level but you’d like to impress some friends or even your boss by playing some golf then here are some helpful tips.

Be prepared

We could start by mentioning that being prepared for a competition can be extremely helpful. If you play professionally and even if you don’t, being prepared can remove the additional stress and tension the situation may already provoke. For instance, prepare clean clubs, snacks, shirts, pitch-mark repairers, sunscreen, etc.  make sure you have everything ready before a big competition or event.

Chewing gum

Some studies have evidenced the effect of chewing gum on the brain, meaning it could be useful to keep a pack of gum as part of your golfing equipment. 

In a study performed in 2011 studied the effect of gum chewing for 14 days on psychological status and physical and mental fatigue in 50 volunteers distributed in 2 groups. The participants in the intervention group were asked to chew gum twice a day for 14 days and then they were asked to complete a questionnaire related to lifestyle for baseline assessment.

Researchers found at 2 weeks that the scores from the questionnaires of the intervention group showed significantly lower scores for anxiety, fatigue and confusion compared to the control group. They concluded that 14 days of chewing gum may improve the levels of anxiety, mood and fatigue due to the chewing motion which is believed to release chemicals in the brain that help calming people.

Deep breathing exercises

Deep breathing exercises may help you manage your nerves. When we are anxious or nervous, our fight or flight response gets triggered and our body prepares to face or run away from a potential threat. However, playing golf doesn’t necessarily represent a threat but the response is pretty much the same.

Breathing exercises don’t take a lot of time out of your day and you can just do them anywhere. You could start by dedicating a few mins and go as high as you want or feel like you need. However, you can also divide them into sets throughout your day.

Let’s see an example through diaphragmatic breathing. When we are anxious, our breathing pattern changes and our breathing can become very superficial and shallow. Since there is not enough oxygen flowing in, our muscles are preparing to respond and they may tense. When we consciously engage in deep breathing, we engage our belly instead of the upper part of our lungs. 

Practice diaphragmatic breathing for 5-10 minutes a day and if you would like to learn how to do it, here is how:

  • Lie on your back, as comfortable as possible with your knees slightly bent and your head in a cushion or pillow.
  • You could place the cushion or pillow under your knees for support.
  • Start by placing a hand on top of your upper chest close to the collarbone and another one on top of your belly.
  • Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling how your stomach presses into your hand, expanding like a balloon.
  • Keep your other hand as still as possible and exhale using pursed lips as you tighten your stomach muscles.
  • Repeat a few more times.

Subsequently, engaging in deep breathing exercises will become more natural over time and will help you feel more relaxed in times of stress since it triggers your body’s relaxation response.

Visualize success

Even if you don’t win, visualize yourself having a nice time. This will help you stay focused on the positive aspects instead of negative outcomes.

Take a moment to close your eyes and don’t worry if you are detailed, the more the better. Imagine yourself swinging and hitting the ball exactly where you are supposed to, see how it goes through the air into the hole.

Moreover, if you combine visualizing and a deep breathing technique then it may become more powerful when getting yourself to relax.

Even if feeling nervous from time to time is normal but if you start struggling to cope with nervousness or anxiety to the point it starts affecting your life, it is recommended to seek professional advice.

Be in the present moment

When we are nervous or anxious we start thinking about the future, about what could happen and mostly, we worry about the outcome. However, try to be in the present moment instead of getting too far ahead of yourself so take it one swing at a time.

Instead, focus on feeling the gold stick, the pressure of your grip, the weather, the colours, smells, etc. Just try to be present and focus on what is happening and not at what is yet to happen (or might happen for that matter).

Transform your nervousness into excitement

It might sound crazy but let’s think about it for a moment. When you get nervous your heart increases, your blood pressure rises, you start sweating and your breathing pattern changes. This is the exact physiological response you get when you are excited so knowing this can actually work to your advantage.

It is a matter of shifting your mindset from nervous to excited, however, we know golfers require more precision and focus compared to other sports. Subsequently, use the energy to focus on your movements and give you a little extra.

As David MacKenzie from golfstateofmind.com recommends, “Change your perspective of nerves from a negative to a positive and you will get better playing with them. Think about nerves, not as something that will hold you back in the future, but as something that will give you positive energy in the present. You are only feeling nervous because you are not in your comfort zone which is exactly what we need to break out of in order to get better.”

Create (or stick to) a routine

Before a competition try not to change the things you normally do, so try to keep your routine if you do have one if you don’t then create one and stick with it. 

As recommended by MacKenzie, “A lot of golfers go through a more extensive warm-up and get to the course a couple of hours before to make sure everything is fine-tuned. Eat your same pre-round meal or breakfast and do the same warm-up for putting, short game and long game.”

Why is this blog about How to not be nervous in golf important?

As we discussed in How to not be nervous in golf, feeling nervous doesn’t necessarily mean it is a bad or negative thing even if we feel like it can mess up with our performance, in fact, it is quite normal. The best thing to do is to adopt techniques on how to manage our nerves or anxiety.

Simple things such as keeping some chewing gum in your pocket or practising breathing exercises can help you to calm down and relax before golf. Besides, visualizing your success, being in the present moment and transforming your nervousness into excitement are some of the most useful tips before and during a golf game. Doesn’t matter if you play professionally or just with friends. 

Please feel free to leave any comments or thoughts about the content of this article!

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about How to not be nervous in golf

How do I calm my nerves before golf?

If you want to calm your nerves before golf, here are some useful tips you could follow:

– Some studies recommend chewing gum.

– Take some deep breaths.

– Visualize your success at golf.

– Live in the present moment.

– Flip the switch from nervousness to excitement.

How do you stay calm in golf?

Here are some tips on how to stay calm in golf:

– Take deep breaths and relax.

– Try not to focus on what your competitors are doing, enjoy the scenery a little bit.

– Focus on the moment at hand, in your swing.

– Visualize the golf shot and the direction that you want the golf ball to go.

How do you calm yourself down if you are nervous?

Here are some useful tips to calm yourself if you are nervous:

– Deep breathing exercises.

– Admit that you are anxious rather than fighting how you feel.

– Challenge your thoughts.

– Listen to some relaxing and calming music.

– Do some physical activity.

– Change your focus.

How do you relax when putting?

If you need to relax when putting, whether it is to qualify, win a championship or simply to win a bet against your best buddies on a Sunday afternoon we know the closest we are to score the nervous we can get. Take your time to walk around a bit around the put, come back and make sure that you trust your line. Next, try to aim your ball by putting a line on the side of your ball and aim where you want the putt to start. This way you eliminate any second-guessing since it is a big cause of tension. Simply aim the line on your putter down the line on the ball and all you have to do is square yourself up and then it’s all trussed from there.

How do you become mentally tough in golf?

To become mentally tough in golf, it is recommended to:
– Make clear decisions about how you’d like to hit each shot before you even hit.

– Develop and execute a pre-shot routine. 

– Commit 100% to every shot.

– Manage your emotions maintaining control instead of them controlling you. 

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References 

Stonegategolf.com: “5 Tips for Calming Your Nerves on the Golf Course”

MacKenzie, D. (2009, Aug.) HOW TO GET RID OF NERVES ON THE GOLF COURSE? Retrieved from golfstateofmind.com.

MacKenzie, D. (2014, Jul.) 7 TIPS TO CRUSH NERVES AND PLAY YOUR BEST GOLF UNDER PRESSURE. Retrieved from golfstateofmind.com.

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