August 30, 2012

Performance Anxiety in Golf

A typical day on the golf course….

A few beads of sweat rolled off his brow as he lined up his 6 footer for par on the first hole. With a half committed putt, the result equaled the quality of his stroke: weak and short.

“Geez, I’m shakin’ inside. I’m frickin’ nervous” he says to me in a soft breath so as not to arouse the attention of the rest of our playing partners….And this was only men’s day…..


Hey, everyone gets nervous sometimes! It might be as simple as a men’s day event or when teeing it up in the club championship. Perhaps it’s on the first tee of Q-School, or the last hole needing birdie to get your tour card.

Maybe it’s when you’re grinding it out with your friends over $20 and you haven’t won in several matches.

Whatever it is, we all have moments where nerves take their toll. Whether it be a slight jittery feeling or full blown competitive stress, nerves affect virtually every player in golf in some way or at some point in our golfing lives.

Some people try to manage their nerves through various means. Others do their best to bury them. Attempts at denying our nerves only serves to disempower us from playing to our potential. You’re going to learn that nerves can be an asset, not a debilitating force that derails your swing and your scores.

Remember, butterflies are great, as long as they’re flying in formation…

Performance Anxiety and Self Worth

Performance anxiety links into deep seeded perceptions of self worth. How this anxiety shows itself on the golf course may not be as severe as panic disorder, but it most definitely cripples our ability to perform at our peak. The more we measure our abilities and successes on how others will perceive us, the more nerves influence our behaviour.

I’ll say that again The more we measure our actions and abilities on how others will perceive us, the more our nerves negatively influence our performance.

Have you ever noticed the times when you could care less about what people thought about you? And you likely performed quite well, didn’t you? When you have no regard for what others think of you you are free to focus on each shot for what it is.

Of course this is not the only cause of performance anxiety.

We can often get ourselves too psyched up from our intense desire to win and what it will mean to us that we can choke off our natural abilities. We become excessively conscious minded. This is my definition of choking.

When we become trapped in our conscious mind when playing we choke off our connection with our natural swing. The ability to trust your swing biomes virtually impossible when you’re inside your head thinking, talking and analyzing things.  It is our unconscious that allows us to play in the flow and experience our best without any sense of performance anxiety.

So, what do you do to alter these seemingly robotic, habitual responses to nerves and performance? There are several things, which my full online course expands on in depth. For now here’s what you can do in your next round.

Keys to the Kingdom of Calmness

Nerves or any habitual response is only there because it has been rehearsed, even though mostly at an unconscious level. Now I want you to build new perceptions and states based on new mental imagery. You’re going to preview potentially stressful scenarios AFTER you have installed some very rich and positive mental images of calmness and focus.

The Human Trainer Rotational Pulley Training Kit

1) Recall a time when you felt extremely good on the golf course. Remember how things looked, sounded and felt. (Space prevents the details necessary to do this part justice but you can simply follow these steps for an experience of the improvements). See hear and feel the memory in as much detail and depth as possible for you.

2) Say something within your mind that sum arises this feeling/state. For example, I might say to myself “Man I love being on the golf course. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be right now.” Or something like that. Find a word or phrase that reflects the feeling you’re wanting to create in this exercise.

3) When on the course and you find yourself in any moment that seems to generate nervousness I want you to say those words to yourself in exactly the way you’re saying them in this exercise. Please appreciate you need to get a strong memory/feeling then have a phrase that really works for you in recalling this feeling/state.

This process will provide you a way to access great feelings and ways you want to feel and it will work to replace the nerves you’ve habituated. Will this take practice? Of course! You’ve spent how many years rehearsing being nervous? The beauty of this powerful process is this doesn’t take years. A few strong sessions and practice can do the job.

I’ll be happy to take those of you who are committed to their own excellence much further in the full online course. Enjoy the exercise.


This article is written by Wade Pearse

Is the creator of the Whole Mind Golf Mental Game Coaching system that integrates both the left and the right brain hemispheres. His processess and numerous mental exercises dramatically improve the performance and enhances a player’s connection with their natural game and deepest potential. By applying his methods you stop playing half-brained golf and finally unlock your mind and lower your scores. To learn more about Wade’s training program visit him at Golf Mental Game Coach



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