By Elena King and Dr. Denise McGuire, CWCC Members
Do you feel like you need to have swing thoughts in order to hit the ball well? Does it feel like you need to force your body to do something correctly? Do you ever wonder why you can sometimes hit really good shots without having to think so much?
We often observe students getting so hung up on mechanics that they lose complete sight of the object of the game…to get the ball into the hole!
For instance, in a recent coaching session Elena observed a student getting very frustrated as she continued to try and make her body rotate during the swing without success. She asked the student to shift her focus completely to the target and immediately her body turned to the target just as she wanted it to. The student’s comment to Elena after just a few balls was, “It’s just unbelievable how well I am hitting the ball without thinking any mechanical thoughts. I’ve never swung the club so freely. This is the best I’ve ever hit it!” What was so different? By shifting her focus from trying to make her body do something to focusing on the target she was able free her mind and allow herself to swing the club and move her body freely and naturally.
We tend to believe that we must tell the body what to do. However, research in the performance field has consistently shown that the type of thinking that most golfers do over the ball is actually detrimental to good performance. The left side or analytical part of the brain actually should be quiet during the few seconds right before we start the swing.
Quieting the analytical part of the brain is different from “blanking out” the mind or trying to not think about anything, which is difficult if not impossible, to do. The key is to engage a different part of the brain in the critical few moments right before you start your swing. Regardless of your skill level or handicap, you can improve your performance by learning to engage a part of your mind that will allow you to be fully in the present, trust your instincts and stay focused on what is most important in that moment…the target!
Here are a few suggestions for becoming more target oriented:
• During your pre-shot routine, take a long look at the target and do so with a soft gaze. Do not squint or strain while looking at it.
• Visualize the flight of the ball going to the target or the ball rolling into the hole.
• Maintain your awareness of the target as you are about to start your swing or stroke. Stay connected with the target even while you are not looking at it.
• Be committed to where you want the ball to go.
At the end of the session Elena asked the student, “What would you need to do to hit the ball like this on a regular basis?” Her response was, “If I clear my mind I can trust that I know how to swing the club and not always feel like I need to fix something.” A powerful learning experience indeed!
Good golf is about playing with a free and clear mind and allowing the mind and body to execute without interference. The freer the mind the freer the swing!
Test out these great golf tips at the CWCC 6th Annual Golf Tournament on July 14, 2011. If you’re still learning the game, receive instruction from Elena King during the Golf Clinic that same afternoon.
Elena King, LPGA Class A, CommonGround Golf Course, Director of Instruction, ExperienceGolf, President, Owner
ExperienceGolf coaches golfers of all abilities by sharing simple, holistic and scientifically-based processes that enable their students to tap into their own resources to achieve their best on each shot, resulting in a more enjoyable golf experience.
Dr. Denise McGuire, Performance Coach, Get in the Zone, LLC
Dr. Denise McGuire is a licensed psychologist, performance coach and founder of Get in the Zone, a company which utilizes leading-edge technology and scientifically grounded methods to help golfers optimize their performance both on and off the course.
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