Hi everybody, somebody once said that it is ok to have butterflies in your stomach just so long as you get them to fly in an orderly fashion. There’s more truth in this statement than I think the originator even knew himself; especially when it comes to first tee nerves.
It’s important to note two things. The first is that 1st tee nerves are not unique to you and you alone, do not take them personally. The second is that when you see a Tiger Woods or a Sergio Garcia about to tee off on hole number one in a tournament they too are experiencing the same ‘feelings’ that you might but in a slightly less sensitized way.
First tee nerves can be described as ‘heightened energy and awareness that needs to be directed’. Like any event in which seriously ‘gets your interest’, the first tee ‘tunes up’ the ‘fight’ response that all animals have to a highly potent level.
Here are some of the physical happenings of the body whilst standing on the first hole of the day:
– Your pupils will narrow and only really see things well from close range.
– Your adrenal gland will start to pump a sweet cocktail through your veins which tell every muscle in your to get ready for aggressive action.
– Your breathing starts to shallow and increase in rate.
And the mental happenings:
– Your eyes will have no interest in targets beyond 15 yards away.
– You will be ‘narrow internal’ with your awareness.
– You will be completely result orientated.
So, essentially the body takes on the ‘fight’ mode of the famous ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response.
What can you do about this?
The first thing is that you have to re direct this nervous energy -you have to give it a ‘focus’. Players who are nervous on the first tee stand there like trainee corpses until it’s their time to play and then suddenly they rush to tee the ball up and attempt to get the task over with as soon as possible. when you find yourself getting a little keyed up start to project your eyes down the fairway – start to make some aggressive practice swings in which your objective is to ‘make the swing you want for the shot ahead’.
The best way to regulate and calm down the system is to control your breathing pattern and simply slow it down – once this is done you have completed the first stage to steadying your ship before your first shot. The second stage is to release the pent up energy. Start to make some practice swings that have a focus on balance and rhythm. Make sure you can sense the clubhead (golf’s most important element!) and hear it swishing back and forth.
I mentioned earlier that a typical sign of this type of first tee claustrophobia is that your eyes are tightly focused on your immediate surroundings and have little time to pick out a clear target for you in the distance. so let this be a helpful distraction for you; use the focus of your eyes to pan into targets that are at least 150 yards down the fairway and make up your mind to ‘lock into’ one of them and start to ‘tailor’ your swing to hit that target.
So first tee nerves or jitters is nothing more that you being overly keyed up about results and the event waiting to happen; you are not alone in what you feel standing out there. However if you can learn to regulate your bodies default systems in this situation and give your mind a clear objective you will experience a shift in the way you start to view the first shot of the day.
Visit my site: www.nickbradleygolf.com and download first tee nerves or any other of the audio tools to help you along the way.
About Nick Bradley –
Nick Bradley has worked with European and PGA Tour players for the past twenty years. Author of the best selling golf instruction book in the past ten years ‘The 7 Laws of the Golf Swing’ Nick has coached winners on every major Tour in the World. After taking Justin Rose to World number six and European number 1 in a record twelve events Nick has recently taken Kevin Chappell from the Nationwide Tour to finishing 3rd at the 2011 US Open. Nick writes exclusively for YourGolfTravel and NickBradleyGolf.com