Have you ever been nervous before teeing off on the first tee? Did you feel the butterflies in your stomach before even leaving your house…or was it more like a flock of vampire bats that were battling your intestines?
Well, then you are just like the rest of us, but the difference between the touring professionals and you are probably how they react to being nervous and how they use this feeling to play better.
Apart from golf I have always loved the game of Ice Hockey.
I still play on a regular basis, but I play together with women of my own age and to be honest, I can’t remember the last time we actually won or even tied a game. It’s all about having fun and getting some exercise. We can easily agree that there is absolutely nothing at stake, when we play.
Nevertheless, I get nervous. I had a game yesterday, and even though my brain knows there is nothing to be nervous about, my body behaves differently.
About an hour before leaving for the rink, I get butterflies in my stomach, I have to go to the restroom a couple of times…or more, I can’t eat, etc. And that made me think. Why am I reacting like this, when there is no pressure to perform?
Well, I think having played competitive golf my entire life, my body just reacts to the fact that I subconsciously know that I’m about to compete. But what is it that makes me nervous?
It’s the expectations that I have for my own performance. I know that we have a limited chance of winning, but I want to do my best, and I want to play well, and just knowing that I put pressure on myself.
But there are two types of nervousness. There is the fear of failing and there is the preparedness. Which one is the most dominant, when you get nervous?
Of course none of us wants to make mistakes, but you can get so scared of making mistakes that it impairs your ability to play freely. If this is how you feel, before playing a round of golf, you have to work on accepting the bad shots that you will hit and learn how to deal with them. Also, you have to work on teaching yourself that you are “just” playing a game of golf. It’s not a war to be fought, and even though you end up with a bad score, your family will still love you. Who you are as a person does not depend on how you play golf.
If you on the other hand get nervous, because you are looking forward to the competition and are excited about the game you are going to play, you can use this to your advantage. Players may often mistake the butterflies in their stomach for something bad, but if they are not there because you are scared of making mistakes, my best guess is that they are there, because what you are about to do is important to you.
Take advantage of this knowledge. You really want to do well, and the butterflies are just telling you that you are prepared and ready to go. Your body is trying to help you by pumping some adrenaline into your system in order for you to be sharper and perform better than when you practice.
This is what the touring professionals are doing. They welcome the butterflies, because they know that this is it, and they are ready for a top performance.
Remember that the next time your hands are shaking before teeing off. If you know that it’s just because you are ready to go, embrace it.
If you’d like to learn more about improving your mindset when playing golf, your brand new online course is open for enrollment. There’s a bonus mini-course in there about mindset! Learn more about the course right here!