How to Manage Pre-Tournament Nerves and Pressure

By Drake Edmond, BGGA Senior Coach

Do you find yourself thinking about the outcome before you play an event? Perhaps you wonder  what you need to shoot to play well or how you can best manage your game around the course if you’re not hitting the ball well? Perhaps you find yourself having a difficult time hitting off the first tee and scoring well on the first few holes? Most if not all of us have experienced nerves and pressure at one time or another. Here are seven guidelines to follow to help you stick to your game plan and to relieve you from tournament pressure and nerves.

  • Be Prepared – Play the golf course during a practice round. Take notes on the course layout, greens and yardage distances. Know the weather and course conditions for each day of the tournament. Bring healthy snacks and staying hydrated. Being prepared will help you in pressure situations.
  • Control Your Breathing – Take long, deep breaths to help slow down your heart rate when you start to feel tension. This will help the first tee jitters and take your mind off of being judged. Even if you feel calm, focusing on controlling your breathing will benefit your game.
  • Control Your Pace – It’s easy to rush into a golf shot due to nerves. As a coach, I’ve seen it happen so many times in junior golf. It affects the tempo and rhythm on each hole. Work on the pace at which you walk around the course and be patient throughout your routines.
  • Process Focus – Have a mindset of only things you can control during your round like your pace of play, sticking to your game plan, controlling your breathing, pre-shot routine swings behind the ball, being engaged with your target, club selections, course management and your thoughts and feelings.
  • Control your Emotions – It can be easy to find yourself feeling frustrated and angry after a bad hole or a poor shot. Focusing on the mindset of finding something positive about the hole and remembering you’re in control of your emotions can help calm your nerves and frustrations.
  • Pressure Situations in Training – Put yourself in difficult situations when training. Create challenging tasks both on the golf course and the range so you’re better prepared when the situation arises during tournament play.
  • Stay Positive and in the Present – Keep your golf game in the moment without jumping to outcome thoughts and feelings. Continue to keep a positive outlook throughout your round to ease your frustrations on the course when your golf game isn’t going as planned. You will have a better opportunity to save shots on your round by staying positive and in the present.

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