Suffering from Nerves
A lot of golfers don’t like admitting to the fact that nerves have got the better of them, but in reality they affect everyone at sometime. As you become more experienced, the level at which the nerves can affect you rises.
The first step is almost always that you perceive your situation as being more important than is normal. This means that you approach your next shot with the idea that it matters a lot more than normally.
This leads to the second step. When things matter more to us, they make us nervous and that triggers physiological changes to our brain and body. When we get nervous our brain interprets the situation as dangerous. It prepares us for what it believes are the two most appropriate courses of action at the threatening moment – running away or fighting.
The brain releases a hormone called cortisol, which speeds up the heart rate. That takes blood away from the brain and rushes it to your extremities; to your running and fighting parts. This means your running and fighting parts are fully functional but your thinking parts are not.
This is why people get stupid under pressure, they make daft decisions because the brain is not in gear. It leads to bad shot or club selection. Remember Jean Van de Velde in the 1999 British open where he stood on the 18th tee with a three shot lead and ended up losing in a play off having made several bad choices on the last hole.
The brain also releases adrenalin , another energy –boosting hormone. Again it is useful for running or fighting but not much use for things like touch and rhythm.
These responses are actually useful in some sports, for example, in boxing or football it may be beneficial but in golf for the most part, we need to stay calm and think clearly. Here are some things we can do to lessen the effects of a nervy situation:
- Control and slow your breathing pattern down.
- Always stay in the present moment.
- Focus on what it is you are trying to achieve and not the mechanics.
- Lessen the importance of the moment.
- Advanced PGA Professional
- GUI Provincial Coach
Many thanks Paul for this great advice! Appointments with Paul can be booked via Powerscourt Golf Club Reception: Tel (01) 204 6033 or the Golf Shop Tel (01) 204 6031. Read more about lessons from Paul Thompson by visiting the Powerscourt Golf Club Website.