We tend to think about the things we fear most at the times when we least want to think about them and it is important to realise this process is a natural one. Golfers often think that feelings of doubt in pressure moments represent frailty in them but this is not the case; these thoughts and feelings are natural and accepting this is the first step to dealing with being out of a comfort zone. Start to feel comfortable at being uncomfortable and then learn how to best deal with it on the course.
EMBRACE THE CHALLENGE & FOCUS ON PROCESS
Golf can be mentally challenging and it is one that you should embrace and enjoy. Players who deal well with pressure experience the same doubts as those who don’t but they manage to focus on being positive and the demands of the shot. Even tour professionals have doubts but they will then go through the process of what they need to do for the shot to be a success. Refocusing on the process can lead you away from feelings of fear and discomfort so stay positive by focussing on a successful shot and not the consequences if it goes wrong.
SELECT REALISTIC SHOTS
Pressure builds when players develop unrealistic expectations about what they might be able to achieve. I recommend that players stay in their “comfort” zone by choosing a realistic shot they are capable of playing especially in pressure situations. If you can’t successfully play a shot over 60% of the time in practice, then you should not even consider it on the course especially when under pressure.
KEEP YOUR EYES STILL
When pitching, chipping and putting On tough shots where the target is near, anxiety in playing a shot well or poorly can cause golfers to 'peek' too early to see the outcome of the shot. As golfers rarely ‘just’ move their eyes this early shifting of vision causes head and upper body movement which, in turn, causes poor strike. In situations when you feel anxious about the outcome of a shot, keep your eyes still buy focusing on a dimple on the ball where you want to strike.
CALM 1ST TEE NERVES
Many golfers think they must play a great first tee shot to have a good round. This puts an unnecessary pressure on the shot and is counter-productive to playing well. If you recognise this in your own play, you need to be more flexible in your thinking and shift from 'this must happen' to 'I'd prefer it to happen'. The first tee shot counts the same as any other stroke in your round but if you attach more importance to it then it will naturally increase the pressure you feel.
People that don’t handle pressure well have an image of failure before playing their shot and to get their discomfort over with as soon as possible, they then rush their swing which compounds the problem so if you take a moment to compose yourself, it will help you to produce better results. If you imagine pressure shots and visualise a successful outcome, you can develop a sense of the situation and be calmer under pressure.