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  • Writer's pictureCarol Alford

Get A Grip with First Tee Nerves

As we are entering major competitions and club championships season, I'm regularly contacted for help with first tee jitters. Many players suffer with their nerves on the first tee, scared of making a fool of themselves in front of people and desperately wanting to hit a good shot at the start of major tournament. Sadly many players believe the first shot will make or break their round. Well here's the good news it doesn't, its only one shot, whether you cream a 300 yard drive down the middle of the fairway or top your first shot, its not an omen for how well your round will be. Still not convinced? Then you may also be interested to know that several players on tour who started with a bad first hole went on to win the tournament. Having nerves on the first tee, isn't a bad thing, its your body telling you to get excited and pumped up to play. Tiger woods was once asked by a reporter do you still get nervous on the first tee after all the tournaments you've won? His answer was "If I didn't get a little nervous on the first tee, then I wouldn't be out here playing, it would mean I stopped caring." Getting nervous is natural, learn to embrace it and understand it part of getting ready to play. Here are my 3 Top Tips to help get you started Top Tip No1 As part of your warm-up routine save 3 balls to finish. Take whatever club you would use on the first tee and run through your pre-shot routine as if you're about to play the first hole. Think about the yardage for that hole, select your club you would play, visualise the shot, walk into as if you're about to play the shot for real. Take the next club as if you're now on the fairway of the first hole and repeat your pre-shot routine before playing the shot. Do the same with the final 3rd ball. Running this rehearsal will help you to recall the shots when you stand on the first tee for real in the competition as you have trained your mind and body for success. Top Tip No 2 Master your breathing, I talked about this last week in my blog. When we become anxious our breathing is high in our chest and very quick. Become aware of where your breathing is and take slow deep breathes, way down into your belly. Reducing your oxygen intake puts your body into shock and releases the stress hormone which creates tension and impacts your performance. Instead focus on your breathing, taking slow deep breathes as you walk to the first tee and take a slow deep breathe before you play your shot Top Tip No 3 Get rid of swing thoughts. How many times have you stood over your ball and found your mind racing with loads of technical or negative thoughts? Such as cock wrists, swing in to out, or don't aim for the water or out of bounds on the left stay right. If this happens step back take a slow deep breathe and focus on just one thing, ideally make it a feel thought, rather than a technical one. Such as focus on your swing tempo. When you're warming up check in with your tempo for the day, it can change from game to game depending on how your body is feeling. You can conquer the first tee nerves, its just takes some practice. You have to train your mind just like any other aspect of your game, the more your practice the better you will become. Give it a go this weekend and let me know how you get on. If your would like more information on these techniques please contact me to arrange a session

Hope you found this blog interesting, if you would like to learn more about mental toughness please visit our website and get in touch. Drop me an email and let me know what you think, I would love to hear from you. Visit our website and check out our other blogs, there's something in there for everyone.


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