What do you do when you get the first-tee jitters?

The players in the Ryder Cup say that teeing off at the first hole the first time is the most frightening experience they have ever had.

The Ryder Cup is no ordinary tournament. This year’s Ryder Cup was EXTRAordinary. The first tee grandstands at Le Golf National in Paris had seats for 7,000 and an additional 10,000 spectators were lining the right and left-hand sides of the first fairway. Only 7 percent of the fans were supporting Team USA, but all those 15,000+ people were making noise.

Why wouldn’t you be nervous with all those people watching and cheering?

As a rookie in the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in Wales, Rory McIlroy said that he didn’t know what all the fuss was about. He described going to the first tee as, “I still thought it was this team event that really doesn’t matter in the big scheme of things. I was more concerned about individual titles and all that. Then I got to the first tee and I realized the magnitude of it all. It just hits you. You try and put your ball on that tee and it takes you a couple times to get it to settle on there.” 

Why wouldn’t you be nervous in an important tournament?

Everyone who has played golf for any length of time has experienced this fear on the first tee. Anytime a golfer has thoughts of failure, or an expectation of missing, or loses concentration of being in the process of preparation, the nerves can take over.

The first tee jitters are caused by fear and anxiety about what might go wrong. These emotions  can cause shaky hands, weak knees, tight, tense muscles, stomach churning, and adrenaline surges that produce those off-line shots. Fear of failure is what causes an unconscious sabotage of a golf shot.

Here are some thoughts on how to use your mind to control the situation, rather than having the situation control your mind and emotions.

  • Take several DEEP breaths, inhaling and exhaling slowly through your abdomen to slow down your heartbeat, mind and body. Take the last deep breath just before you swing.
  • CONCENTRATE on executing a SMOOTH swing to put the ball on the fairway. Thinking about HOW to swing is the #1 way to sabotage your success.
  • LET GO of the impulse to swing hard and fast. To get off to a good start, accuracy is more important than distance.
  • REALIZE that the people around the tee aren’t judging you and probably won’t remember your first shot whether it is on the fairway or in the woods.
  • RELEASE the temptation of making the first tee shot more important than any other shot.
  • Visualize and FOCUS on the area where you plan to land the ball.
  • Think about the PROCESS of executing the shot, not on why your heart is pounding or your mouth is dry.
  • Take several practice swings with your eyes closed to FEEL your TEMPO and acceleration.
  • Commit to your consistent PRESHOT ROUTINE to keep your emotions and thoughts calm and in the PROCESS of hitting the golf shot.
  • TRUST your ability to let go of the self-induced pressure by ALLOWING your mind to focus on creating the present shot.
  • Remember that golf is a GAME that you PLAY for the FUN of it.

For further information about any of these mental keys, link on to the Positive Mental Imagery website Archived Newsletters.

Play “in the zone” with Joan

Entrain Your Heart & Mind for Peak Performances 

To train your brain to play your best golf, listen to Positive Mental Imagery self-hypnosis guided imagery CDs in the privacy of your own home, available at www.pmi4.com/cart

If you aren’t able to maintain trust and belief in yourself on the golf course, email Joan at pmi4@bellsouth.net or call 828.696.2547 for a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation about developing a new strategy. Learn what is missing in your golf game so you can achieve the success you desire.

A new mental golf book is available now on www.amazon.com 

All royalties will be donated to Junior Golf!

“THE HEART OF GOLF, Access Your Supreme Intelligence for Peak Performances” explores and explains negative emotions such as fear and performance anxiety, the four Cs of mind blockage, the four progressive stages of learning the supreme intelligence of the heart, and the way to access the zone in competition. It is a player’s guide for developing your true inner self by returning to the joy and love of self instead of seeking praise and rewards from the outside world.










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