Trying too hard is such a common phenomenon in golf that it’s worth spending a little more time on it.
We are taught from birth that we must try as hard as we can to achieve our goals, and on the whole this is very commendable. But try the arm-bending exercise here, the harder you tried, the worse your performance. When you seemingly tried less hard, it became much easier to keep your arm straight.
We have probably all experienced this phenomenon at work in our golf. We are out on the practice range with a driver, trying to hit the ball as far as we can – let’s say 250 yards. And, although we’ve been trying very had to bit the ball a long way, our best effort has only just crossed the 200- yard marker. There are only six balls left, so we give up. We decide to relax and just enjoy hitting them; we’re not trying to hit them a long way or think very much about what we are doing technically.
We are simply having fun. And what happens? Our muscle relax, we coordinate our swing much better and generate the club head speed that’s necessary to hit the ball a long way. Suddenly we realise that we are just hit one past the 250-yard marker, and we say to ourselves, ‘that’s it. I’ve got it. I’ll try to do that again.’ And as soon as we say that to ourselves, we are right back where we started. Our mental state is back in the ‘trying too hard’ mode, our muscles tighten and our ability to create clubhead speed is lost.
One of ofthe most common blocks to learning that i am familiar with is the confusion that surrounds the difference between ‘ Golf learning‘ and ‘Golf understanding’. Often, what happens in golf is that we confuse golf understanding what to do with ability to act on or implement that understanding. In other words, we tend to believe that the more we understand the ‘ what to do’, then the move we will have learned and the more we will be able to do.
The ‘what to do’ in golf is the mass of information that is available to us on how to play the game – the detailed theory explaining all the body movements that are necessary to return the clubface to the ball in the most effective way. But simply reading and understanding this information – whether it’s describing the grip, the posture or the backswing – is very different from actually being able to do it. Golf learingis not simply understanding, learing is experiencing a concept to the point of being able to execute that concept – that’s how it becomes a skill.
Think about it this way, A pilot could explain to us how to fly an aeroplane, but while we might understand what he is saying, we certainly won’t have learned how to fly. The only way we will ever do that is to get out and physically experience what is involved.
If we confuse golf learing with golf understanding, when we find we are unable to perform as we would ideally like to, we are incllined to go off in search of more ‘how to’ instruction. We want to know exactly what it is we are doing wrong and what we need to do to put it right. However, most of us already have all the technical information that we will ever need in order to play well ( some of us have too much, others have the wrong information, and some both). It is not that we do not understand what to do, it is simply that we are not sufficiently skilled in acting on the information that we have.
Psychologist tell us that we learn a half of what we learn in our whole lifetimin our fisrt five years. So why does our rate of learing slow down so much after these first few years ?
As children we had a tremendous capacity and appetite to learn, it was in- built at birth and is part of being human. We experienced te first yarsof our lives without preconceived ideas about what was right or wrong, or good or bad, or what we should or should not do. We had little or no fear or inhibition. During our formative years we developed our basic motor-skills through a very natural process, one that was free of formal instruction or training. We learned how to walk and to talk, to eat with a knife and fork, to run up and down stairs, and so on.
Wheattempting something as young children, our reaction would be along the lines of ‘Oh, that’s what happens. That’s interesting. I wonder what happens if I try to do it this way …’ We were inquisitive. We did not judge our performances other than to decide what to do differently the next time in order to get what we wanted. Everthing that we did was new and exciting. Ours minds were relaxed, and learning was fun.
Teh at in which children learn is epitomised in their reaction to failure. When a child falls while learing to walk he doesn’t react by saying to himself ‘ You dummy, you fell over. Why don’t you try to keep your head stil and keep your balance. Come on, try hardr.’ Children don’t recognise failure. They just pick themselves up and try again.
The, somewhere bewteen the age of about five and seven years, we began to understand the concepts of right and wrong, good and bad, should and shouldn’t. As a reult we focused a lot of our energy and attention on avoiding the ‘ba’. the ‘wrong’ and the ‘shouldn’t’, because we found that the consequences of these could be painful, or threaten us in some way. Our efforts were now directed into avoiding failure as distinct from learing.
As a golfer we might feel the smoothness of our swing or the elation in response to a good shot; if we anticipate a poor shot we might feel uncomfortable or awkward over the ball, or our memories of the past. If we anticipate success we might hear the crack of the ball as it is met squarely and forcefully by the clubface; if we anticipate failure that sound might be a muffled thud as the clube strike the ground behind the ball.
We judge and evaluate our performance against some some blue print that we think will fix the problem. The potential for learning remains with us all, but as we grow older we tend to adopt a very analytical ‘left brained’ approach to golf learing which actually slow down the process of improving.
The way we know there is a world out there is through our senses, and that as there was not very much smelling and tasting to do in golf, the major senses that tell us about our golfing world are seeing, Feeling and hearing. We experience, interpret and act on the stimuli that are relayed through our senses. These stimuli come to us in varying combinations of seeing (visual) data, kinaesthetic (feeling) data and auditory (hearing)data.
Performance in Playing Golf
When we think about our golf, we think in terms of visual, kinaesthetic and auditory concepts. The concept in our mind may be visual – we may associate with, or form pictures in our mind about whatever we are thinking about. It may be kinaesthetic – we may associate with or form feeling in our mind about what we are thinking about. It may also be auditory – we may associate with or form sounds about what we are thinking about. Most of us will conceptualise using various amounts of all there. It seems that we have the same mechanism at work whether we are sensing the outside world or our own internal world. We create our sense of meaning of the world by combining the input from this three senses.Performance in Playing Golf
However, we also have a specific sense that dominates our consciousness in telling us about the world, whether that world is our internal one or the external one. Just as we have a dominant right or left hemisphere in our brain, we have dominant sensory ways of thinking in each of these hemispheres. Using our dominant sensory mode can be as important as using the appropriate side of the brain for the right task in golf when we come to determining the keys to peak performance.
It is much easier for us to understand things that are described in our dominant mode. Some of us respond much more readily to visual language and/or communication. For example, we ‘ see the swing’, or ‘get the picture’. Some ‘grasp the idea’ or ‘ get a feel for it’. While others ‘hear what you mean’ or ‘ get the rhythm’ of the swing. Understanding which is our dominant mode ( we also have secondary modes) can help speed up our learning process, make it easier to concentrate and help us be more reliable under pressure. The key to high performance and accelerated learning is to manage the stimuli coming into the performance loop, and understanding our dominant modes can help us do that. Performance in Playing Golf
Left – Brain Dominant golfer or Right – Brain Dominant
It is our brain that drives or causes our action, and so it follows that the better we drive our brain, the better it will drive that action. And the brain is a superb mechanism. It learned how to walk and talk long before you were able to tell it what and how to walk and talk or swing a golf club. So given the performance loop, we potentially have two places that we can exert some influence over things. One is our perception of the external world, and the other is our perception of our internal world, both of which go to make up our experience of the world as a whole. As we get into the exercises I will suggest some that help with one or the other, and some that work with both.
First, let’s begin to think about which are our dominant modes. Read through these descriptions and decide which one is closest to you. We are not aiming to be statistically or psychologically accurate here, just to provide us with some food for thought.
RIGHT – BRAIN DOMINANT GOLFER
When I play, I: Like to imagine/ create new shots Am sometimes reckless in my choice of shot Guess the yardage Hit the ball in unconventional ways( when others think it’s unnecessary) Like to play the bold shot Enjoy new courses and playing partners Like to have fun when playing Can tell when something is bothering other people and try to change it Get the feel of things Get highs and lows in response to how well I am doing Am curious about other ways to achieve the end result
LEFT-BRAIN DOMINANT GOLFER
When I play, I: Like to analyses every swing I make, especially if it goes wrong Want logical explanations for everything I do Always arrive to play on time Do what I say I will Like routines Am critical of myself (and others) if things are not right Try to be realistic with my goals Prefer practice that can be measured, quantified and analysed Like to understand why I do things Always dress neatly Plan how I will play a hole Organise my playing, practice and social schedule
Of course, no one is totally left – Brain Dominant golfer or Right – Brain Dominant golfer, but most of us lean one way or another in our preferences. Some of us will lean only slightly one way. Others will be closer to one of the two extremes. If we are more right-brained in our preferences, then the pre-swing phase is where we can make a significant gain. If we are more left – Brain Dominant golfer in our preference, then we have probably analysed our swing to death already. We will need to learn to let go of our thinking about the right way to do things while we make our swing.
According to a variety of studies, anywhere from 70% to 90% of the world Golf Players are Right – Brain Dominant, while most of the remaining are left – Brain Dominant golfer. A small percentage of the golf players can use both hands equally well; a person with this ability is deemed to be ambidextrous.
Get your right brain golf in the game. The right side is much better at creative and expressive tasks, such as reactive movements and motor skills.
Now think about golf. As an activity, it has two distinct phases. The first phase is what is call the pre-swing, and it involves our activity before we hit the ball. It contains our arriving at the ball, analysing the situation we are faced with, working out the shot we need to make, assessing whether or not we have the skill to execute it, selecting a club for the job and beginning our routine, which would probably include carefully lining up.
The second phase comes once we have finished our pre-swing routine. This is the moment when we hit the ball. It is the time when we need to stop thinking and allow the pre-swing work we have been doing to have its effect. It is where we need to experience what we are actually doing. We have pointed our brains in the right direction and now we let our bodies get on with it.
If we refer back to the characteristics of the left and right-brained thinking, it’s easy to see that our left brain is best suited to the first phase(pre-swing), while the right brain is best suited to activities of the second phase(playing). The left brain is good at taking care of the analysis and decision making, the right brain golf is good at acting on that analysis and decision and we must become more reactive to play our best possible golf To further train your right side, you need to start to visualize shots, and try to “turn off” your brain like Jordan Speith says he does when he plays his best..
Right brain golf, the trouble here is that we have too much self-chatter due to the time we have to accomplish the task of hitting a golf ball. In my experience, the dilemma for the majority of us is that we tend to take the left-brained approach into the right-brained orientated activities. We are still analysing and instructing ourselves in the moments when we need to be just doing, and experiencing what we are doing. The problem for many people is that trusting the right brain to take care of the physical action without conscious guidance can feel taking a risk, that we have less control and that we are unsure what will happen next.
A significant number of us will also do the reverse – I’m one of them. Being right-brain dominant (right brain golf), I prefer to do something quite quickly before analysing it. So when I play golf I want to get on and hit the ball without analysing the situation properly and without going through a proper pre-shot routine. It is important to realise that none of this is good or bad, or right or wrong. It is just how we are as human beings, and the better we understand our predisposition the better we can them In our favour. By identifying which is the dominant half of our brain, we can work on developing the skills of our non-dominant half by practising activities that demand those skills. In my case, being a right-brained dominant thinker, I would improve my performance if I introduced a little more left-brain discipline into my game, and developed a specific pre-shot routine that helped me to eliminate elementary errors. A left-brainer, on the other hand, might learn to on with hitting the ball. The various focusing exercises that we will come to later are designed to eliminate this sort of internal interference
Two Brains Three Senses – how it plays Vital Role in Golf
Those of us who studied human biology in school will remember being taught that the brain has two hemispheres, the left hemisphere, and the right hemisphere. We may have been taught that these different hemispheres control different aspects of our functioning as humans beings. What we have learned since is that three of these senses play a vital role in our golfer in terms of how we conceptualize or think about our golf and how we perceive and act in the external worlds.
Right and Left Brains?
There are three important things to note when we talk about the different halves of the brain:
1 they control different function in us.
2 A lot of us tend to learn towards being more left – or more right brained golfer in our approach to playing golf and life generally.
3Golf as an activity has some elements that demand more use of our right hemisphere.
Let me explain some more by comparing the differences between right brain dominant people – described as ‘ right – brainers’ and left brain dominant people – or ‘left brainers’.
Left – brainers are logical, timely, reliable, neat, realistic and analytical. They can be critical, they like things to be well planned and organized. They thrive on routine, will practice for hours and generally want to understand thoroughly before doing.
Right – brainers are imaginative, impetuous, take a risk and break rules. They are holistic, good at conceptualizing, intuitive, creative and sensitive. They are curious, like surprises, relate well to feel and enjoy movement.
Of course, no one is totally right brained golfer or totally left-brained, but most of us tend to be more one way or the other. That makes it easier for us to learn or do things that demand the use of the dominant half of our brain, and harder for us to learn or do the things that demand the use of the non- dominant half of our brain.
Bearing in mind the above, here is how we run into difficulties.Imagine that I tend to be more left-brained in my approach to life. I will tend to apply my left-brained approach to the whole of my Golf, and I will perform well the elements of golf that demand the functions of my left brain. However, the elements that demand the use of my right brained golfer will suffer, because I still try to apply my preferred left-brain mode of thinking. It’s a bit like trying to screw in a normal slotted screw with a cross-headed screwdriver. It’s the wrong tools for the job, and it make life very difficult
Unlock the mental game of golf and the Dilemmas of the Golfer’s Mind
A whatever level we play golf, our performance on the course is determined by what our mind does, think about it. You can play to your handicap one day, and yet you’re 15 over the next; you can hit the ball consistently on the practice ground, but not out on the course when it most counts in competition; you can use all of the clubs in your bag except, say the 4 -iron; you usually play well around your home course, but for some reason always seem to make a mess of the 14th hole; you have no problem with putts of 10 or 15 feet, but become anxious over a relatively simple 3-footer, you can chip perfectly well around the green, but always duff the ball when you are faced with a shot over a bunker…(Dilemmas of the Golfer’s Mind)
“Golf is 90% Mental” Dilemmas of the Golfer’s Mind
Despite the wealth of technical knowledge available to us, and our eagerness to analyse and work on our swing, we still wrestle with the frustration of playing reasonably well one day, but terribly the next. While we might go out and shoot 95 on Saturday morning, on Sunday afternoon we can do no better than 105, even though we are playing on the same course, with the same clubs, under the same weather conditions and with same partners(s).
Whether we like it or not, our performance is determined by our mental state, or The inner Game of Golf, The game is played within the mind- the ‘ Dilemmas of the Golfer’s Mind’. As the great amateur Booby jones implied many years ago, there is a lot to be gained if we can learn to control the workings of our mind when we are out on the golf course, i.e. improve our golfer’s mind – Golf mental skills
We hear people talk more and more about the importance of the mind in golf. I tend to be one of the biggest culprits. I m fascinated by dilemmas the game throws up. Why is it that we fear shorts putts? Why do some people freeze when they have to play over water? What drives us to make a mess of a relatively simple shot at a crucial stage in a match? And why is that we are able to hit the ball well on the practice ground, but never play as well as know that we can in competition?
These phenomena – and there are many others – cannot be explained in purely physical terms. We spent much of out time learning about the theory of swinging a golf club, and yet we lack the self – control to be able to put that knowledge into practice. The point at which we recognise this is usually the point at which we consider learning about Golf is a Mental Game .
As spectators, it is often the mental side of golf that gives us such drama and excitement. The Ryder Cup matches have perhaps proved more than anything else that at the highest level golf and shows that golf is a mental game . Even the world’s greatest players feel the strain. Some crack under the pressure of intense competition, while others seem to thrive on a challenge and shift up a gear when the heat is on. However, few of us ever perform up to the level of our true potential for more than a brief period of time. We might play the odd good shot, or produce a good round once in a while, but we find it hard to sustain our performance over any given length of time. The game That we play against ourselves is much more difficult than the one which we play against the golf course. We hit great shots some of the time, and it’s these that keep us going when our game won’t come together.
I ‘ m not a professional golfer, and I will attempt to teach you the technical or physical skills that are necessary to play the game. They are covered in more than enough detail elsewhere. But I will talk about the importance of learning and perform these skills as well as golf is a mental game.
All of us have a golf mental state that affects our performance. The more we can develop our skill at controlling that mental state, the better we will perform al of our other skills.
What Are Golf mental skills?
Golf Mental skills are the internal skills that enable us to perform successfully the technical skills (physical skill) that we have already stored within our subconscious or to learn those new skills that we wish to store in our subconscious. Examples of these mental skills are concentration (our ability to focus or attention), energy control (being ‘pumped up’ or ‘psyched up’), self-confidence(self-belief) and our ability to use our imagination effectively (the ability to visualise).
The degree of skill which we have in each of these specific areas is reflected in our body language and in the words that we use, but most of all, it is reflected in our physical performance.
TIP! You need to find your golf club’s “sweet spot.” This is a point on the club’s blade that propels the ball to where you want it to go every time it makes contact.
We use our mental skills in every area and in every minute of our lives. In whatever we do it is our brain that drives our behaviour, and therefore our brain that is responsible for our performance. Our brain ‘houses’ the mental skills we have; it sorts and interprets the stimuli that we receive through our senses – i.e. what we see, hear and fell – and on the basis of this interpretation, the brain drives what we do physically.
What most people fail to realise is that it is possible to train these inner skills, along with the Golf Mental Skills. In the same way that we can design specific exercises to help us improve our swing technique, we can devise ways of improving our mental skills, and as a result, improve our performance. In fact, it’s sometimes easier to improve our mental skills than our physical skills, as the exercises that are shown later in this blog post can be practised off the golf course as well as on it.
The golf grip is the most important facet of the swing. A faulty and uncomfortable grip can start a chain reaction that will send the ball in any direction. It is like launching a missile. If the triggering machinery is imperfect, the missile gets off to a wobbly start. It is likely to miss its mark by miles.
First of all, the grip must feel comfortable.
The grip is the golfer’s focal point the key to accurate golf. It is the only contact the body has with the club head and the ball, if all is not well with the grip, a message is sent from the “trigger” room to the brain and before the swing is completed, harassments have spread to the arms, knees, and feet.
Naturally, if one is changing from the overlapping to the interlocking grip or is moving his hands to see more knuckles or fewer knuckles, the golf grip won’t have that cosy feeling at first. This is understandable. Give the new grip a chance.
I check my grip before almost every drive. I do this convince myself that all is well. If the knuckles and fingers are in their right.places, I have the image of a drive that will sail down the middle.
Control is another important item in the grip. It can’t be checked by looking at the fingers and knuckles. It has to be done by feel. The golf grip has to hit a happy medium: it can’t be too tight but it must be tight enough.
A grip that starts out right can go bad on the backswing when the fingers lose control. That’s firmness is necessary. It’s like teaching your girlfriend to ice skate. You wouldn’t squeeze her hand until it hurt but you would grip it firmly enough to keep her on the right path.
A feeling that the hands are working together is another factor that generates confidence. If the brain is convinced that everything is working in unison, it will carry out a smooth back swing, down swing and follow trough.
It would be recommended that the beginner spends a lot of time perfecting his/her grip. A faulty grip leads to hooks and slice that send the entire game into a tailspin, causing an emotional upset that could have been avoided with a little practice in the living room.
You hear the words “touch” and “feel” many times, they apply to the significant relationship between the hands and the clubs. Touch means as much to the golfer as it does to the pianist.
Few pros have fingernails. They don’t like to shake hands during the day of the tournament play. Often, they use wet towels to make their hands feel fresh. These precautions preserve and even accentuate the sensitivity in hands which make contact with the clubs that guide the ball to birdie territory or boggy land.
The friendly feeling generated between the hands and the clubs is the most important faculty in golf. If all is not well at this basic point, the rhythm of the swing can disrupt and balance upset.
Most professionals and amateurs use the overlapping grip popularised by Harry Vardon. The little finger of the right-hand overlaps the index finger of the left hand. Jack Nicklaus got great mileage out the interlocking grip.
Another method is the baseball grip which has ten fingers on the club with no overlapping or interlocking. Art Wall and Bob Rosburg have made god use of the baseball grip.
We must emphasise the point the type of grip depends on the size of the hands and the swing characteristics of the individual, let me mention that pros frequently change their grips. It is the first item checked when the thing goes wrong. In fact, a standard joke among pro golfers is, “ I like that grip better than the one you used last week.”
One thing is important in the grip, whether you use the overlapping or the interlocking. Don’t grip the clubs too tightly. This will increase tension.
Grip firmly but if you fell strain on your arms you are over doing it.
And on further word about alignment: the back of the left hand and the palm of the right hand must always face the target.