3 Tips For Dealing With 1st Tee Nerves

Golfer on golf course helping first tee nerves with breathing exercises

Some of the best golfers in the world get nervous – they’re just better at dealing with it. It takes practice and experience to improve your performance under pressure, but there’s some tools that can help you deal with nerves better now

Try these 3 simple steps to help you combat your nerves and get off to a great start.

Step 1 – Control Your Breathing


Different emotional states generate their own breathing patterns

Think about how your breathing pattern would be when you’re nervous. Now, think about how it would be when you are calm.

Simply focusing and controlling your breathing will send signals to the brain that say you’re in a state of relaxation.

  • Place your hand on your stomach
  • Take a deep breath in through your nose and let your stomach inflate fully
  • As you exhale, slowly push all of the air out through your mouth letting your stomach concave
  • When doing this, focus on your breathing and notice how your stomach feels on your hand
  • Do this for 60 seconds before you tee off and just notice how different you feel. 

Follow these steps and you’ll be in a much more relaxed state – ready to focus on the task in hand.  


Step 2 – “Fake it until you make it”


Your mind and body are linked. Whatever your body does, the mind will respond, and vice versa.

Picture a confident golfer – how would they move? What would their stance look like? You may be thinking things such as: shoulders back, chest out, head high. 

Now, picture someone nervous and unconfident. Do they look different? Of course they do. 

Taking charge of your body and how you move can trick your mind into being confident. This is great news because it’s so easy to change they way that you move. When you walk onto the tee, take charge of your physiology. Imagine how a confident tour professional would look and copy their movement. It takes a bit of practice, but it’s so easy to do and will take your focus away from negative thoughts. 


Step 3 – Stick To Your Routine


Having a routine and sticking to it will give you a sense of security and help you stay cool under pressure. If you haven’t got a routine yet, practice one on the range and on the golf course so that you can develop strong habits. Learn more about pre-shot routines in Secrets To Lower Scores

  1. Good Decision Making – make clear decisions on club selection, wind, shot shape etc. to help you feel certain and comfortable over the ball.
  2. Quality Practice Swings – practice the feelings that you want to perform the shot. This can help with feel, ball flight, and distance control.
  3. Take Dead Aim – focus on what you want not what you don’t want. Too many golfers think about what they don’t want and this only moves them towards them. Choose your target and focus exactly on what you want to happen.


Work on these 3 simple steps and you will be amazed how much more confident you will be starting your round! For a bit more detail on this subject – check out our YouTube video about dealing with 1st tee nerves here

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  1. Sukhbir Grewal

    Very Helpful ! Thank you.

    1. Andy Proudman

      You’re welcome!

  2. Denis

    I am having a problem. When I drive the ball I have a tendacy to have a slice and I am trying to correct it but it does’t work and look to me that I am not hitting inside enough.

    1. Andy Proudman

      Take a look at our “Turn your slice in to a draw” video series. This should really help you find out what is causing the problem. Also take a look at the “over the top” swing fault category in the vid…

    2. Andy d

      Check your grip.i did stop slicing.now working on in to out strokes.

  3. tomblack1958

    In my routine as I address the ball, I focus on my breathing and fully exhale and slow down my heart rate by “focusing or being in the moment”!

    I make sure that I am not tense in my body including …

  4. Neil Wiggins

    Things I have drilled into me by my daughter who isn’t a fan of golf (because she can’t play she admits) but she has a Bsc Hons in Sport Science and a Msc in Sport Psychology. My issues were anxiety n…