The Issue of Nerves When Chipping and Pitching

    As you make your choice between a chip and a pitch, the situation you are dealing with from a mental perspective should come into play as well. For most people, a chip shot is going to be far easier to execute when under pressure as compared to a pitch. Why? Simple – there is less margin for error with a chip shot. Even if you don’t strike the ball perfectly at the moment of impact, you can still get away with a quality shot when chipping. That is not true of a pitch. Most likely, a pitch shot which is slightly miss-hit will end up nowhere near the target.

    Many amateur golfers like to pretend that they don’t feel nerves when on the course. This is a mistake. All golfers get nervous from time to time, even if you aren’t playing with anything significant on the line. Golfers tend to be naturally competitive, and they want to do their best on every single shot. This is particularly true when competing in some kind of tournament. If you play in competitions from time to time, you already know the feeling of being nervous when trying to play a short game shot. It’s difficult to pull off an excellent shot when the pressure of the moment is weighing on you, which is why you want to give yourself the easiest possible shot to play.

    Of course, you aren’t always going to be able to default to the chip shot option when you are nervous. Sometimes, you’ll be forced into hitting a pitch shot by the circumstances that you face, even if you would rather chip. So what can you do in this situation? Here are some tips for calming your nerves and producing a quality pitch shot in spite of the pressure.

  • Slow things down. You don’t want to rush into this kind of shot just to get it over with. Quality pitching requires a steady rhythm and tempo to your technique, and you won’t be able to accomplish those things if you are rushing. Once you decide that you are going to hit a pitch, take a moment to pick out a specific landing shot – one which gives you at least a little margin for error. Then, stand back and take a deep breath, focusing your mind on the task at hand rather than on the nerves. Taking an extra few seconds before you walk up and take your stance will be worth it when you produce a quality pitch.
  • Use the lowest-possible pitch. Not all pitch shots are created equal. Some pitch shots are played relatively flat, while others are thrown high up in the air like flop shots. If you are nervous, plan to play your pitch shot as low to the ground as possible while still giving yourself a chance to stop the ball near the target. Lower shots include less risk and are generally more forgiving than high shots. The thinking here is the same as it has been all along – do what you can to pick out the easiest possible shots when you are feeling pressure.
  • Focus on head position. It is easy to let your mind get carried away with thinking about a few different things all at the same time while making your swing. It should be no surprise that such distraction is only going to lead to trouble. To give yourself the best possible chance to make clean contact, focus on keeping your head steady while you swing the club. With all of your other preparations made and your stance set, dedicate your mind to the single task of thinking about holding your head steady. Without any unnecessary head movement during the swing, it should be much easier to achieve a clean strike.
  • It is a pointless endeavor to attempt to run away from your nerves on the golf course. You are going to be nervous from time to time while playing golf – that’s just how it goes. Instead of pretending that you aren’t nervous, accept those feelings and do your best to play well anyway.