Anyone who ever plays the game eventually finds themselves in a situation when their nerves inhibit their ability to pay their best. Team events, league play, business golf, even playing golf with someone you don’t know can create enough stress to alter your normal game. As you might imagine this becomes a frequent topic of discussion at the United States Golf Academy. Calls for help are often triggered by the situations I just mentioned. Here are three of the ways I suggest as a start to win the battle of the nerves.
Maintain your Balance. One of the best tips I ever heard was from a tour player who told me when the pressure was on he tried to swing the club while maintaining the feel of the ground with his feet. By focusing on his feet and how they felt on the ground, he stayed stable and under control. This stability helped him maintain a proper speed and tempo. How many times has someone told you to slow down? It is really bad advice as the last thing we want is to sacrifice speed because of a lack of balance. By definition a balanced swing leads to proper tempo and that will often solve the problem. If not….
Swing Both Hands Together. Many players find when the pressure is on that their dominant hand over-powers the other. Instead of swinging the club, they try to hit the ball. Without a swing to guide and control the club this hitting action creates a number of problems. The idea of hitting at the ball is difficult because golf clubs are built and work best when they are used with a swinging action. That is why they have flexible shafts. If they were to be used with a hitting action the shafts would be much more rigid. The solution is to make a conscious effort to swing both hands together. You will find this smoothes out the swing giving you improved control over the club.
Swing Past the Ball. When a golfer gets nervous they often become so focused on striking the golf ball they literally stop or slow their swing as the club reaches the ball. Again, the golf clubs are not built to perform this way. Because of the flexibility of the shaft, when the club slows or stops abruptly it becomes unstable and the shaft bends in such a way that solid contact with the ball is difficult. The thought of swinging past the ball keeps the club moving through impact allowing the shaft to do what it was built to do.
The next time you play a round of golf try to implement these three suggestions into your game. Stay grounded, swing both hands together and swing the club past the ball, not at the ball. This has been a successful formula for a number for great players and I am sure you will find it works well for you.