Stress and anxiety responses are caused by the nervous system sending signals that tell the body it is going to have to fight or flee for its life.

This was good for the caveman, but it’s not very good for your golf game.

When you stand over a three-foot putt or another important shot, your body often reacts as if you are going to have to fight or run for your life. What can you do about fear and anxiety on the course? Here are a few simple tips to manage the anxiety both physically and mentally.

Control the Stress Response Physically

Breathe. Breathe deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth.  Breathing causes the nervous system to send relaxation signals. When relaxation signals are being sent, stress signals cannot be sent simultaneously.

Control the Stress Response Mentally

While breathing helps control the stress physically, focusing your mind on something other than the thing that is making you nervous can help manage the anxiety mentally.

1) Pay attention to your breathing by focusing on the sound, feel (in your chest, shoulders, or nose and mouth), or count (in your mind, count to three on the inhale, then count to three on the exhale) of your breathing.

2) Manage your self-talk wisely: Say encouraging messages to yourself.

3) Choose to focus on the process (e.g., get confident and stroke the putt confidently) rather than the outcome (e.g., making or missing the putt). 

These simple tips will have you feeling calmer and more confident in no time. The best part is that the strategies are as effective in life as they are on course.

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