Overcoming Anxiety on The Golf Course
Sinking a putt on the 18th hole, just when you need it most, can be challenging.
As all golfers know, anxiety is your enemy on the golf course…
Anxiety causes your body to be tense or shaky. Anxiety forces your shot off line, throws off your approach shot and, in the worst case, could cause you to yip when you putt.
Anxiety is not those slight nerves or butterflies in your stomach, but that overwhelming feeling where you can’t focus. When you are anxious, your thoughts are primarily on all the ‘what ifs’.
It is impossible to hit critical shots well when anxiety is causing havock.
Can you relate to the experience of Nikki T…
Nikki was having a solid round but so was Nikki’s rival.
Nikki’s rival trailed her by one stroke from the middle of the round up until the 18th hole.
Nikki’s rival shot 1-over on the final hole.
Nikki was nervous as she stepped to the tee on a par-4 but still put the ball in good position for her approach shot.
Two shots later, Nikki was faced with a 10-foot putt.
Nikki started feeling her body tense up and her heart race.
Nikki started to contemplate missing the putt.
Nikki worried she wouldn’t be able to close out the tournament and was overwhelmed by the enormity of the moment.
Nikki took longer than usual as she stood over the ball.
As Nikki pulled back the putter, she could feel her body tighten.
Nikki pushed the putt wide to the right.
It took four more putts before she found the bottom of the cup.
Nikki let the victory slip through her hands all because she allowed her anxiety to interfere with her game.
To sink the final winning putt, hit a great tee shot or set yourself up with a well-placed approach shot, you need to be semi-relaxed.
Relaxation is the key to performance.
Golfer Anirban Lahiri knows it…
Lahiri has had success on both the Professional Golf Tour of India (11 wins) and the Asian Tour (7 wins). Lahiri wants his success to translate to playing well on the PGA Tour.
After narrowly missing out on qualifying for the 2017 US Open, Lahiri realized, if he is to be successful on the PGA Tour, he needs to learn to relax when the pressure is on.
Instead of sulking or being hard on himself, Lahiri chose to learn how to meditate to quiet his mind and relax so he can focus when needed in tournaments.
Mediation is a form of relaxation that utilizes breathing techniques to calm the body and mind.
Lahiri believes that his new-found ability to relax his body and calm his mind will help him deal with the pressure that comes along with playing on the PGA Tour.
LAHIRI: “There are so many times when I can feel the nerves on the 18th hole and my heart beating fast… [Meditation] allows me to just ground myself and center myself and then say ‘okay what’s my job at hand? What do I need to do?’ and then you do that.”
Meditation is only one form of relaxation. If you find a form of relaxation that works for you on the golf course, your game will improve dramatically.
Relax Your body and Mind
Tune into your breathing – Your body and mind work in unison.
Deep breathing helps your body relax and quiets your mind.
Focus your attention on the air slowly filling your lungs then exiting your body.
Take several deep breaths to increase the effectiveness of this strategy.
By focusing on your breathing, you take your mind off of the pressure of the situation.
Great Resources for Golfers:
- Download a free golf psychology report to improve your preshot routine.
- Visit Golf Psychology Coach for more mental game articles and videos.
- Check out ore golf psychology coaching programs at peaksports.com.
*Please subscribe to The Golf Psychology Podcast at iTunes.
Dr. Patrick Cohn is a golf psychology expert and author of the “Golfer’s Mental Edge” audio program and Breaking The Yips Cycle DVD program. He teaches amateur to tour professional golfers how to improve their mental game of golf using golf psychology strategies developed over the last 30+ years of his career.