Do you frequently experience sweaty palms, a racing heartbeat, and other symptoms of anxiety on the golf course? Do you experience these symptoms more when playing a competitive game, and not so much at the driving range?
If so, then you might have golf anxiety, a type of performance anxiety that affects golfers.
Believe it or not, the fact that you experience golf anxiety can actually be a good sign.
Research has shown that successful professional golfers, ones who thrive on performance and competition, tend to experience more anxiety before a game .
But they also have relaxation strategies that allow them to harness the anxiety, turn it into excitement, and improve their performance.
On the other hand, left unchecked, your golf anxiety can throw you off your game, whether on the putting green or when you’re teeing up.
Let’s take a look at why you experience golf anxiety and a few remedies to help you overcome nervousness on the golf course, so you can also elevate your performance like the pros.
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Why do I experience golf anxiety?
Performance anxiety, like other forms of anxiety, is a complex condition. There are physical, mental, and emotional components that can all play a role.
You’ll often hear stories of high-level athletes completely losing form after they make one critical mistake that cost them, or their team, an important game.
And it’s the same thing that might be throwing you off your golf game.
How much anxiety you experience on the golf course primarily comes down to one thing. It depends on how much negative stress you feel during a game, and how your mind and body respond to that stress.
This is why you may find that you’re on top of your game at the driving range, or when you’re casually playing on the course.
But when you’re competing, or when the stakes are high in your mind, the pressure to perform gets to be a bit much, and your shots end up in the lake or the sand dune.
Stress response and golf anxiety
When you perceive the stakes to be high, you’re more afraid to make a mistake.
You might fear that a bad score will negatively impact your career as a pro golfer. Or it could simply be the fact that you don’t want to lose to your buddies.
Whatever the reason may be, when you feel like you can’t make a mistake, there’s added stress, and your body responds by releasing stress hormones that can affect you physiologically .
The spike in stress hormones can put added pressure on your heart, and they are often the cause for the physical symptoms of anxiety, like excessive sweating, rapid heart rate, or trembling hands.
What most likely happens then is that you try to force yourself to calm down, which backfires, and you get even more nervous. You then go ahead and take the shot anyway, and the ball ends up nowhere you want it to.
The key to overcoming golf anxiety
The key to overcoming nervousness on the course isn’t to “try” and reduce the jitters. Instead, it is to promote relaxation.
Just like the pros, you need to train yourself to be more relaxed, both on and off the golf course.
You can train your body to respond better to stress with the golf anxiety remedies we will discuss below.
With proper relaxation practices, you’ll still get the adrenaline spike when the stakes are high. But instead of letting it control you, you’ll be able to harness the extra energy to intensify your focus and performance.
5 tips to remain calm and focused on the golf course
Let’s delve into five specific things you can do both on and off the course to promote a calm, relaxed, but focused state the next time you get ready to tee up.
1. Increase your confidence
If you develop more confidence around your golf game, it is only natural that you’ll feel less stressed about your performance.
The best way to become more confident is through practice. But the practice and progress must be structured, planned, and measured.
Make plans to visit the driving range or the course a certain number of times each week or month. Set goals to improve each week or month, and measure your progress.
If you’re not improving at all, consider hiring a trainer to help improve your game.
The best players around know how to control their anxiety because they don’t have to overthink their swing. It is like second nature to them.
And you can only get to that level through relentless practice and persistence.
Even after you increase your confidence by strategically improving your game, you’ll most likely still feel some jitters when it’s game time.
That’s when you can take a page out of the navy seal playbook, and try tactical breathing to calm the nerves.
“Tactical breathing” is a trick used by the Navy Seals to stay calm under pressure . And there probably isn’t a more high-pressure job than that of a navy seal. So, if it works for them, chances are that tactical breathing will also help you on the golf course.
Done right, “tactical breathing” can switch your nervous system back to a relaxed mode. You will feel your heart rate slow down back to normal, and the jitteriness disappears.
You can try it at the driving range, as well as when you’re about to break eighty.
- Step 1 – Take a deep breath into your stomach to a count of four.
- Step 2 – Hold your breath and count to four.
- Step 3 – Exhale slowly to a count of four.
- Step 4 – Repeat the process till you feel calmer and in control.
3. Yoga for golf
There’s a reason why Tiger Woods does yoga . As a golfer, you can benefit tremendously from spending some time on the mat.
Yoga will improve your mobility, posture, core strength, as well as functional movement and strength. All things can translate to a better and more powerful swing.
But beyond the physical benefits, yoga can also help you when it comes to better stress response for golf anxiety.
According to Harvard Health, yoga improves your heart rate variability (HRV), which is the variation in the time interval between consecutive heartbeats .
An improved HRV also means that your body responds better to stress .
A regular yoga practice can help you maintain your composure and focus by being better equipped to handle the jitteriness and controlling your physical response to stress.
4. Visualize the perfect shot
Imagining the perfect shot before you actually take it can have a couple of effects.
For one, it might result in a better shot. Elite athletes like Michael Phelps, Lindsay Vonn, and others, have routinely used visualization to improve their performances .
The other benefit of visualizing is that it will switch your focus from the negative and destructive thought patterns that might be contributing to your golf anxiety.
Instead of worrying about how everyone will laugh at you if you sink the ball in the lake one more time, you’re switching your focus to what you really want to accomplish.
And the more you practice visualizing, you will find that your brain and body will find the right swing with just the right amount of power to accomplish what you want.
Needless to say, this will only have a positive effect as long as you also put in the hard work and practice. But hard work, along with mental imagery, can be a powerful combination for both your golf swing and anxiety.
5. Take a natural supplement to improve performance
Finally, for an added cognitive boost, you can try PerformZen to promote relaxation under pressure.
PerformZen is an all-natural supplement that works primarily by boosting GABA levels in your brain.
GABA is a neurotransmitter that prevents too much excitability in the nervous system. It promotes calmness, and low levels of GABA have been linked with a higher risk of anxiety .
On the golf course, PerformZen will help you stay relaxed and prevent golf anxiety so that you can stay focused on your shot.
There’s also magnesium and vitamin B6, the combination of which has been shown to improve mental focus in kids with ADHD , and it can also improve your concentration in golf.
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Final thoughts on Golf Anxiety
Golf anxiety is a real phenomenon that is quite common among golfers, even experienced ones.
While you want your adrenaline levels to rise so you can elevate your intensity and awareness during a game, you want to make sure that it doesn’t kick into overdrive and make you jittery.
Try some of the tips mentioned in this article, like tactical breathing, visualization, and yoga for improved core strength and heart rate variability.
And for an added cognitive boost, be sure to check out PerformZen calm performance formula.
- ^ https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00390118/document
- ^ https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response
- ^ https://www.fastcompany.com/90354456/these-navy-seal-tricks-will-help-you-perform-better-under-pressure
- ^ https://edition.cnn.com/2015/04/23/health/yoga-for-golf/index.html
- ^ https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression
- ^ https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/heart-rate-variability-new-way-track-well-2017112212789
- ^ https://www.inc.com/jessica-rovello/five-steps-to-visualize-success-like-an-olympian.html
- ^ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4594160/
- ^ https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16846100/