Nervousness: it is inevitable. If you can understand what is happening to your body during these times, you can make nervousness your friend.
Identify and understand what happens to you when you are nervous, then work on ways to combat these nerves…things that work for you. Stress is healthy and nervousness is common and normal.
What Can You Do to Combat Nervousness?
- Slow down.
The more you hurry, the worse it could get.
- Keep it simple.
Don’t overload yourself with swing thoughts or a complicated strategy.
- Stay fit.
If you are in shape, your nerves will be too. Besides exercise, watch your eating habits and stay with what works for you.
- Keep it predictable.
On tournament days, stick you your usual habits and be yourself. Following a set routine isn’t just a good idea for your daily regimen, but probably an excellent ideal for every shot. Additionally, be yourself between shots; if you are social, be social, if not, be yourself.
- Rely on social support.
Interaction with playing partners and friends may help you react better to stress.
- Don’t think about the consequences or outcomes.
Think target rather than technique.
- Think happy.
Think only positive things, even if they are unrelated to the shot at hand. A positive thing you can think of when playing is a successful shot…use visual imagery to “see this” perfect shot before you swing.
- When things go bad, blame bad luck and get on with it.
There is an element of luck beyond your control and those who cope best with stress know how to turn this into an advantage: make a great putt, know it was a great stroke, miss a short putt, blame it on the spike mark.
- Train your stress response.
Know thyself and be your own best coach. Learn to limit stress response to those moments immediately surrounding the shot. Try to get “away” between shots and learn to turn the pressure on and off. Many players use biofeedback, relaxation techniques, or meditation to control nerves. Additionally, distract yourself between moments of stress by doing something irrelevant to the task at hand (looking at a note in your pocket, picking up a twig, arranging your bag contents) and this may have a steadying effect on your nerves.
Keep it all in perspective.
If the pressure gets to be too much, tell yourself that what is happening isn’t so important. This is, after all, a game. And, it is a choice to play this game.
Great players get nervous. Their hearts beat faster and their hands shake just like everybody else’s. It is the feeling of champions!