Above Par

Four Ways to Conquer 1st Tee Jitters

September 29, 2021 Kathy Hart Wood Episode 37
Above Par
Four Ways to Conquer 1st Tee Jitters
Show Notes Transcript

If you are playing in a tournament or event, care or people are watching  you tee off, you likely will experience 1st tee jitters. They are pretty much inevitable. 

It really is just means that you care about what you're doing. You care about your results. You care about the tournament, 

 People might notice that their  hands might shake a little bit. Their heart might pound, Their stomach might flip.  They might sweat a bit more.

This is a great example of how emotions show up in your body.
You can think that there's a problem that we have these first tee jitters and that you're not going to be able to make a very good swing. This is not the case.

In this episode, I'm going to share four things that you can do on the first tee to help you with your jitters and nerves so that you can make your best swing.

Find the links for the videos for these tips and more at KathyHartWood.com/jitters

Jump on a call and chat with me about what you are struggling with at KathyHartWood.com/chat

 [00:00:00] Well, hey there, my golf friends, and welcome back to above par. I hope you had an amazing weekend enjoyed the Ryder cup. I am filming this and I do not know who won, but we are way ahead going into the, into Sunday. So I'm hoping they can pull it out. And there aren't any big upsets. I might have to change the beginning of this podcast by the time it drops on Wednesday, if there was.

But anyway, I did want to talk to you. There's a lot of USGA events that have gone on there's a lot of fall tournaments going on and I wanted to talk to you about first tee jitters and a couple tactics. [00:01:00] I'm going to give you four things that you can do on the first tee to help you with your first tee jitters and this is the thing, they are pretty much inevitable. Most people are going to have first tee jitters. It really is just saying that you care about what you're doing. You care about your results. You care about the tournament, and our brain just goes into a little bit of a high alert. That is it. It's the feelings are not too dissimilar than being excited.

Right? Really, a little nervous, a little excited. They can show up the same way in your body for most people first tee jitters your hands might shake a little bit. Their heart might pound, their stomach might flip. You might, you know, sweat a lot, whatever it is for you. This is what happens when we have these emotions.

This is a great example of how emotions show up in your body. That's the best example that I always give, because most people can resonate with that. This is the thing. We sometimes think that there's a problem that we have these first tee jitters and that you're not going to be able to [00:02:00] make a very good swing.

And what I want to tell you, the more that you think about the first tee jitters or feeling anxious or feeling it in your body and making it a big deal, then they're going to become bigger. You can still make a good swing, even when you are a little nervous and anxious, the deal is we don't want to play the whole round that way.

 We just want to fine I'll get off the first tee and maybe I'll have a first whole jitter where I'm a little nervous until I get past that first hole. Totally fine. You can still make good swings.

It is in your best interest to try and get up to the front part of your brain, where you can think clearly and focus. When we have first tee jitters when we're nervous or we're anxious, we're in the back of our brain. And our brain goes into this little bit of fight or flight mode when we're in fight or flight mode, we don't think very clearly we don't make very good decisions.

You might rush your swing. You might swing short or your tempo might be off my swing longer. I don't know. Everybody does different things.

But the big thing is, is that we don't have access to being able to think clearly become focused and make good decisions. [00:03:00] Those are not really accessible. The more that we are anxious and in the back of our brain. So I'm going to give you a couple of things to help just temper that anxiety or nervousness.

Whenever it shows up, you can use most of these in any part of your game or anything that you're doing . They apply everywhere except for the first one. And the first one is before a big event that important to you

and when you're warming up. Take the opportunity for that last shot before you leave the range to be your first tee shot. 


, go through and simulate that experience that you're anticipating on that first tee grab the club that you're going to hit off the first tee. If people are announcing your name, if it's a tournament like that, picture them, hear them, announcing your name, take a ball and a tee.

Go through the steps that you would take before you hit a shot. Swing, hold your finish, watch the shot, do all the things and then go to the first tee or wherever you're going to go. 

Let that be your memory of hitting your first tee shot. So technically when you go to the [00:04:00] first tee, you're hitting your second tee shot it just, your brain likes to see you going through that routine and being nice and calm without all the anxiousness and the nerves. Because when we're on the range, we're pretty calm, right?

, we shouldn't be anxious on a driving range while we're practicing. That is why most people. Hit better golf shots on the range then they do on the golf course, because you're calm on the range and on the golf course, you know, you seeing all the trouble out there and get stressed and nervous and frustrated, 

 So that's the first tip that I have for you to take the opportunity to hit your first tee shot, visualize your first tee shot as you're leaving the practice range so that when you go to the tee it's technically your second shot.

Okay. So now you're on the first tee and you feel yourself being a little bit nervous and anxious. And what I want you to do is breathe.

And I know breathing sounds very simple, but this is the way that I want you to do it. You're going to breathe in slowly to a count of five. You're going to count in your head. 1 2, 3, 4, 5, and then you're going to exhale 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. The act of counting [00:05:00] backwards really helps you get up to the front part of your brain.

The breathing slows everything down. Now you're going to calm down a little bit. You might have to do it again. Breathe in to a count of five exhale, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.


So that breathing is really going to help you slow everything down, counting backwards and making you focus on the numbers. As you say them backwards helps you quiet down the back of your brain. I call them little hamster thoughts it helps you quiet down those little hamster thoughts so you can get up and you can focus.

You might have to do it a couple of times. That's okay. Anything that just lessens those nerves on that first tee or whatever shot you're hitting that makes you nervous or anxious? Is helpful. That means that you're going to be able to make a better swing, more like the talent that you have.

The second thing that you can try is just a little bit of a trigger or a touch point. Get in the habit of you can either touch your hat, touch your shoulder. You might want to touch your knee. It's a way of just letting your brain go and learn to focus and get present in the most. You can watch golf on TV and sometimes you'll see [00:06:00] that there's certain triggers that some good players do that might be closing their glove.

 Think of Freddy Couples when he tugged on his shirt, on his, , shoulder or anything like that can help you just get your mind into the framework that now it's go time. Now we're going to start to focus.

The fourth one that I suggest to you is called crowding out.

I had learned this by, I worked with Bob Rotella years ago on my putting and he had given me some things to do over the putter so that I was not spending as much time thinking about my mechanics and get a little stuck and frozen over the ball. So he was trying to free me up. It was very useful, but I remember going through it.

I had to say it out loud because I wanted to make sure that I was getting the timing of it. And in the process of learning that little routine and saying the steps of that out loud. I noticed that , I was not thinking as much about all the negative thoughts about the putts. So what I do now, if I have a shot or a hole, that's a little bit just uncomfortable for me.

I don't like the way the tee sets up. I don't like the way the hole looks. I might be focusing too much on some [00:07:00] trouble. I might be focusing too much on people around me. And I just can't seem to quiet down the negative thinking or the chatter that's in the back of my head. What I will do is I will walk through my routine in my head and crowd out all those other thoughts.

So I suggest you practice this and try it out. Now. Hopefully you have pre-shot routine. If you do not have a pre-shot routine, if it is not fine tuned, if it's not consistent every single time, that is your homework, you want to waggle the same amount of times. You want to look at the target, the same amount of times you want to go in with , the same foot, put your grip on in the right order.

Do it every single time. Your brain loves that, right. It's a calming thing for your brain. 

It helps calm your brain down, but it also helps you free up mental space. In your pre-shot routine, you're going through an establishing five things, really your, your grip, your posture, your aim, your ball position, and your width of stance, right? You're getting all those done in a pre-shot routine so that you don't have to actually [00:08:00] think about them so much, unless you are tweaking something or you've gotten a little out of sorts your pre-shot routine, because you have practiced that takes care of that for you.

It's getting all five of your fundamentals done. Because you have rehearsed it so many times, it goes on to autopilot . Your brain likes that your brain likes to put things on autopilot says thank you very much, but you're also freeing up a lot of mental space. It also gives you a lot of certainty that you're, you've been here before.

You've done this before. So you're going to have those steps of your pre-shot routine. And what you're going to do is you're going to walk through some of them. When you have a shot that makes you a little bit uncomfortable. It might look like this after I put my hands on the club and I was standing over the ball, I will look at the target, look at the ball waggle and go.

So I say those things out loud in my head. So I don't give myself an opportunity to think about all the trouble that's out there. Anything that's making me a little bit uncomfortable. You get to pick what your routine is and you get to pick the pieces of it that you want to try this crowding out with.

It doesn't matter. You could do more of the steps if you wanted [00:09:00] to. But you can't hold both of those thoughts at the same time. In other words, you can't think about your routine and think about the out of bounds at the same time.

 Give that one a try. That really works well on the first tee. You can't quiet down your brain. It works well on putts. It works well on any shot that your brain is just chatty, right? There's a little bit of negativity or you're worried about.

Different trouble. That's up ahead of you. And the other thing I want to tell you is you want to make sure that you have an arsenal of thoughts that help you calm down, not just one or two. You need to have like four or five thoughts that help you calm yourself down, help you relax a little bit. That you can say in place of all those negative words are gonna pop up into your head.

Like don't hit it out of bounds. Don't top it in front of all these people. You better get it over the water. You need to make this putt, all those things put pressure on us or anxiety or whatever emotion it might trigger for you. You want to have some thoughts? Like if I go through my routine, everything's going to be fine.

All right, you got this. Make put a good swing on it. Simple ones. They don't have to be elaborate. [00:10:00] And I don't suggest that it be a mechanical thought mechanical thoughts are fine. If you have something that you're working on, if you have something in your takeaway, you get one, right.

Or your brain can't process all that in the amount of time that you swing. But I think it's a good idea for you to have something that is encouraging. I tell people, imagine what would a caddie, a professional caddie tell you before you hit a shot? A good caddie, not like your buddy. Who's going to sit there and go hurry up.

We gotta get in and have lunch, right? That's him as a person who is caddying for you, a really good caddie, like he'd hand you the club and he'd say something along the line. Put a good swing on it you got this. This is the perfect club. You own this shot. Nice tempo, something like that. That's going to help you calm down.

 , you want to find four or five of those that are going to work for you out on the golf course. Okay. So first tee jitters are going to happen. There is no problem, nothing has gone wrong., it really shows that you care about the day and you care about your performance.

Don't make it anything bigger than that. Some of these tools that you can help quiet your brain down so that you can focus a little bit better so that you can make your [00:11:00] best swing include rehearsing that first tee shot. Before you go to the first tee, breathe, counting up to five and counting from five to one slowly.

And you might do that a couple of times a touch point, touch something on you, just the act of doing that helps your brain focus. You know, don't slap yourself like that, but like touch your shoulder. You can touch the back of your glove. You can have a little trigger with your shirt or your pants or something like that.

Whatever works for you 

you can start helping your brain just know that this is time that we're going to start to focus right now and then practice crowding out with your pre-shot routine.

If you do not have a pre-shot routine, I have some videos on that. I have a video on crowding out as well. And the breathing one I'll put them all on one page. If you would like access to them, just go to Kathy hartwood.com forward slash jitters, . 

And I'll have all the videos that I have in reference to this on there so that you can look at them, especially the pre-shot routine. If you're not really sure on what you're supposed to do, I have a couple videos for [00:12:00] you that you can find there.

All right. My friends that is that you can still make a good swing, even when you are nervous and anxious, don't make it mean anything.

Use some of these tactics to help calm you down so that you can get off to a good start. 

And if you need any help with that, that is what I do. If you need help coming up with thoughts, if you need help sorting out your brain, working through some of these emotions so that you can take more of that swing that's out on the range, out onto the golf course.

Feel free to connect with me and let's chat. You can do that at kathyhartwood.com forward slash chat. All right, gang, I'll talk to you next week.