Golfers of all levels know the feeling of performance anxiety. It is the battle within between their desire to hit that perfect shot and the doubts, fears, and gremlins in their head that tells them they can’t. Performance anxiety in golf is not only real, but it can be debilitating and paralyzing if not addressed. In this blog post, we will discuss the signs and causes of golf-related performance anxiety, as well as tips to help you overcome it and perfect your game.

PGA Director of Instruction, Carter Murchison, details his tips on how to overcome the golf gremlins in his most recently published Golf Tips video. You can check it out here.

Introducing the gremlins

Imagine you are playing in a tournament, and you know you have to make the next shot to win. The pressure is mounting, the crowd is watching, and your game peers are waiting. All eyes are on you. You feel a twinge of fear and suddenly, the golf gremlin enters your mind. This tiny creature that feeds on your anxiety is the cause of your performance anxiety, the root of your golfing nightmares.

As an athlete, you may have experienced the gremlin in other situations such as pre-game jitters or public speaking anxiety. But when it comes to golf, the gremlin seems to be an expert at making you doubt yourself, causing you to lose focus and confidence. This gremlin in your head may seem like an unbeatable enemy, but with the right strategies, you can tame the beast and improve your game.

Why do they show up during a game of golf?

When we experience performance anxiety, it triggers the fight or flight response in our brain. Our brains are wired to respond to perceived threats with physical changes such as an increase in heart rate, respiration rate, and blood pressure. These changes cause a chemical release in the brain, including the release of cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol affects the brain’s ability to process information, and in turn, affects our performance in the game. In essence, the gremlin causes a physiological response that is difficult to control. This chemical mix stiffens up any player, putting their golf game at a disadvantage.

Tips to conquer your performance anxiety

So, what are some common signs that a player is struggling with performance anxiety? Well, an athlete may become overly critical of their own performance, feel like they are in a fog or feel as though they are stuck in their own head. This can lead to indecision and a breakdown in execution.

But don’t worry! There are ways to tackle performance anxiety in golf and up your game.

Tip 1: Practice Mindfulness

One way is to practice mindfulness. This technique can help athletes become more aware of their thoughts and feelings, enabling them to distance themselves from negative or anxious thoughts.

Tip 2: Build a Pre-Game Routine

Another way is to build a pre-game routine. This allows players to mentally prepare themselves before the game and enter a state of mind that helps them overcome performance anxiety.

Tip 3: Try Visualization

Visualization is also a powerful tool for athletes to overcome performance anxiety. By imagining themselves hitting the perfect shot and experiencing positive emotions, athletes can train their brain to be more confident and resilient.

The takeaway

Overcoming performance anxiety in golf may seem like an impossible feat, but it’s not. Remember that the gremlins in your head are not real, and you have the power to silence them. Take the time to practice techniques that calm your mind and boost your confidence, such as visualization and positive self-talk. Above all, don’t let your inner demons take control of your game. Focus on the present moment and enjoy the challenge of the sport. With a bit of persistence and a strong mindset, you can conquer performance anxiety and perfect your golf game.