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Someone recently asked me how I deal with nerves. They explained to me that they get anxious and struggle with self-doubt. I obviously don't know all the details of this person's situation but I wanted to address this topic because I feel like so many of us struggle to deal with nerves. Here are a few ways to ensure you thrive under pressure!
First, I think we all need to understand that nerves are a good thing. It means you are in a situation where you care about your performance. Being nervous means you want to succeed. So, instead of trying to surpress these emotions, let's embrace them and use it to our advantage! I think the biggest key to being able to do that is preparing to play great. You have to walk on the golf course (or anywhere) expecting to succeed and to play well. One of my favorite motivational speakers, Eric Thomas, says, “Desire and imagination have the potential to position a person for greatness.” We have to desire success and then see ourselves being successful. You can have all the desire in the world but if you don't imagine yourself "in the winner's circle" and get comfortable with success, you will always doubt yourself. Expect to perform well instead of fearing a bad performance.
We all know that tournament golf is way different from a round of golf on Sunday with our friends. Teeing it up in a tournament is not the same as when we are practicing or hitting balls on the range. If you are playing on the course for practice, make sure to set goals and be very mindful. Think through the shots just as you would in a tournament. Another thing I have found that really helps is to practice with a purpose. If you are hitting balls on the range, don't just hit the same shot over and over. Try to pick different targets, different clubs and hit different kinds of shots to simulate being out on the course. This will help you practice like you play. It prepares you mentally and physically for tournaments instead of repeating the same shot over and over.
When I was preparing for Q-School in 2015, I told myself I was going to work so hard, there wouldn't be a doubt in my mind that I had done all I could do. I prepared correctly and went to Florida with confidence and belief that I would play well. I think the more we believe in ourselves, the less we will have feelings of nerves or anxiety. I think belief comes from preparation. I am able to trust myself and enjoy the moment when I am prepared, instead of worrying about the outcome. Its like studying for a test. If you didn't study and prepare, you freak out when its time to take the test. Believing in yourself is not something that just comes naturally but if we combine desire and imagination, like Eric Thomas says, it positions us for greatness.
There are different things that work for different people but I hope you find this helpful. Being able to handle pressure is what turns good players into great players. Find what works for you and trust YOUR process.