Handling the "Pressure" Shot

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By Tom J

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  • 16 Replies
  1. Tom J

    Tom J
    Vernon Hills, IL

    The recent discussion of "most nervous" on the golf course prompted me to think about ways to handle the "pressure" shot. Some advice I've heard and tried to put into practice: developing a consistent pre-shot routine, emphasizing positive self-talk, and rehearsing the specific shot required on the first tee just before completing pre-round warm-up.

    Anyone have a tip or an approach to calm the "nerves" that works for them?

  2. Patrick B

    Patrick B
    Logan, UT

    For me (8 hcp), it is all about having a good routine and keeping it simple. In the end, it is only ever just you, the club, and the ball. Keep your muscles loose and don't grip the club too tight (in pressure situations I'll squeeze very tight and then relax to a normal grip just before my shot)...beyond that, your body knows what to do. One of my favorite aspects of this game has been finding the right state of mind to focus on just those few things.

    I got to put this to the test last year teeing off on the first hole of the Old Course at St. Andrews with about 300 people watching. No single swing has ever bolstered confidence in my swing more than smacking that one 280 right down the middle. :)
  3. Yeah the "stay positive" might work for you, can't go wrong staying positive. Also after hitting a bad shot you can try to psych yourself up about how this next shot will be a great recover shot, and re-jumpstart your round positively (again just trying to stay positive).

  4. Gary D

    Gary D
    Cranston, RI

    Is it just me or do a couple of cold ones help with nerves. I seem to play better with a little "swing oil". Helps to handle those pressure situations.
  5. Joshua B

    Joshua B
    Connecticut

    Breathing is key from what I hear...slow your walk, think about how great the course/scenery is...and breathe easy (not fast and rushed)
  6. Ralph C

    Ralph C
    Portland, ME

    If you treat every shot like it's a pressure shot, there ARE no pressure shots... Pretend you're driving at the Long Drive Championship, putting to win the Masters, every shot you take. That way, when the heat really IS on, you're cool as a cucumber.
  7. Chris Hatem

    Chris Hatem
    Boston

    This is probably the most important thing I learned from my time with swing coach Derek Hooper: "practice with consequences". If you want to play well under pressure, you need to practice under pressure. To do this he would have me go through the irons hitting shots - in order to go to the next club down (longer) I would have to hit 3 in a row on the green and right of the flagstick (as my miss was usually left). So when I have already hit 2 on the green and just need one more to advance to the next club - there came the pressure. This got pretty difficult when I got up to the 5 and 4 irons.
  8. Really glad I stumbled across this post. A lot of information to put in play. I have a tendency to speed up my swing under pressure and for me that's so destructive.

  9. Interesting topic and some good insights already. At times I am also struggling mentally and thats why I am consciously working on this part. Here is my view how to best handle pressure shots.

    1) Routine
    Establish a pre-shot routine you repeat every time you play, whether it be a practice round or a competitive round. This helps you to stay in the moment and focus on the performance. If you have the tendency to overthink or enter into negative self-talk between strokes while walking to the ball, you can establish a separate routine to disconnect yourself between shots.

    2) Deep breath
    In stressful situations our heart rates tends to go up, which leads to tensions in our body. You can add one or two rounds of deep breathing (5 s. inhale - 2s. keeping breath - 8s. exhale) into your pre-shot routine or whenever you feel nervous.

    3) Slow down
    As somebody already pointed out - slow things down. We tend to speed up our movement when we are nervous, or excited, which may negatively affect our swing.

    4) Practice, practice, practice
    Managing your mind in stressful situations come only through long-term constant practice. Visualisation is one very good way of preparing for stressful situations outside the course. You should first imagine a situation, where you have been in a state of flow. How did it feel like? What were your thoughts? What were you focusing on? How was your posture? Next imagine a stressful situation and try to transform the qualities from your state of flow here. It is recommended to accompany this exercise with a round of deep breathing to make your body more receptive.
  10. Greg D

    Greg D
    Oklahoma City, OK

    "Every shot must have a purpose", "The Inner game of golf", and various other golf psychology books have helped tremendously with these pressure shots. Its also taken about 5-6 strokes off my rounds too. Learning how to focus and what to focus on makes all the difference in the world. I suggest them to everyone I know. Check them out!
  11. Joshua B

    Joshua B
    Connecticut

    Breathing is the best way to keep calm...walk at the same pace and fill your lungs through the nose then exhale through the mouth. We get nervous and rush things when we dont eben realize it.
  12. Dro

    Dro
    Pittsburgh

    Joshua B said:

    Breathing is the best way to keep calm...walk at the same pace and fill your lungs through the nose then exhale through the mouth. We get nervous and rush things when we dont eben realize it.

    Joshua is spot on- breathing is key to many things in life, including life itself.
  13. There are some common mistake of the golfer who are under pressure make is looking at the target for a short time, and looking at the ball for a long time.The longer you spend looking at the target/ball, the longer you have to tighten your grip or tense up your shoulders. That’s not doing your swing any favors. That moment you first address the ball is when you’re most loose and in more of a natural athletic stance.
  14. Fill the lungs deeply through the nose and out through the mouth three times....a Top Sports Coach told me about the technique and it calms everything down so you can trust your technique and hit the shot
  15. Great thread! For me it comes down to committing and tempo. I take a few deep breaths before I hit the shot and focus on one swing thought to hit the shot I am committed to. Hope this helps!

    Play well!
    Jack
  16. Hotsauce

    Hotsauce
    Georgetown MA

    Like Chris said, practice under pressure. Drills where you have to succeed or start over are a great way to get used to hitting shots under the gun.
  17. Deno

    Deno
    Hawthorne, NJ

    1. Visualization
    2. Pre shot routine
    3. Positive self talk
    4. Breath control

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