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First Tee Jitters – Overcoming the nervousness on the first tee.

First Tee Jitters – Overcoming the nervousness on the first tee.

By Coen Welsh – Golfers often experience the jitters before they tee off on the first hole. The jitters are the feeling of butterflies in your stomach but, for some people the jitters can become a high level of stress and anxiety before teeing off.

The most likely cause is that some golfers are afraid of what others may think when they hit a bad shot. In psychology we can classify these “jitters” into two categories.

It may be labelled as eustress or distress. The positive jitters (eustress) are there to get you excited and motivated. The negative jitters on the other hand cause you to feel anxious and fearful.

To determine which kind of jitters you suffer from you can use the following test. If it goes away after your first tee shot it’s probably positive jitters. If not, then it’s probably the negative kind. So how do you get rid of them?

Tip of the week – Reinterpret the jitters

The main strategy is to reinterpret how you perceive the jitters. The feeling of sweaty palms, elevated heart rate and shortness of breath is the way your body prepares for the challenge.

Sending blood to the right areas of the bodies your body is now ready for the challenge of a round of golf. In other words before you start your first tee shot, throw away what you think others are going to think. Rather focus your thinking on your first tee shot. At this stage it’s just you, the ball, the target and your pre-shot routine.

Use your pre-shot routine to overcome the jitters. Visualise the shot. Pick your target. Take a practice swing. Aim and align your shot. Immerse yourself into the process to take an excellent shot and just like that you are ready for an outstanding round.

Quote of the week

“The first time I played the Masters, I was so nervous I drank a bottle of rum before I teed off. I shot the happiest 83 of my life.” – Chi Chi Rodriguez

Coen Welsh, a qualified industrial psychologist is an expert on the Antecedents and underlying Psychological Conditions predicting Employee Engagement. He has worked in diverse teams in the UK, Egypt and Namibia. Coen regularly gets invited to speak at HR and other conferences. He is a regular contributor to NBC National Radio as well as Tupopyeni and Off-the-Hook on NBC Television. He is a founding member of the Professional Speakers Association of Namibia. You can visit him at or at

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