What an amazing display of handling pressure Billy Horschel showed us yesterday to win both the Tour Championship and Fed Ex Cup. He always looked in control of his swing and he made the game look easy despite the obvious distractions of leading the biggest tournament of his career.
How he dealt with the pressure to turn it into a great performance is something the average player typically struggles with. Most amateurs view the feeling of nerves or anxiety as a weakness and subsequently allow them to negatively affect their game (by choking). But with this simple change in thinking it can easily be changed from what is perceived to be negative energy, into the stuff that fuels your best performances.
Next time you feel your heart racing and butterflies in your stomach, think of it as positive energy that even the very best players experience. Feeling nerves is normal and should be welcomed. No matter how good you become you will always feel them when you’re in a position to take your game to the next level. Ask any Tour player whether they would rather play with nerves or without, they would choose with! Billy Horschel said before his final round “I just love the nerves, it makes me feel alive!”
The fact is (if you allow it), nerves heighten your senses, increase your focus, energy and enthusiasm. Only with nerves will you break through into new levels of scoring.
Try this simple change in perspective and re-framing of your usual response to nerves. And remember that pressure gets easier to handle the more you experience it. We all have physical tendencies that come out under pressure that we can begin to look out for and work to eliminate.
Think of nerves as a positive and you’ll start to embrace the pressure of competition and just like Billy Horschel, you’ll become hard to beat!
Photo by Steve Burns