Practice vs Play

wmblake2000wmblake2000 Members Posts: 5,702 ✭✭
I'm someone you'd think would be a big fan of, say, Tim Galloway, and the notion of unconscious and feel. But nope, I have always been a guy who really believed in core mechanics and played with key swing thoughts - aka deliberate conscious intention of certain feels I wanted to create.



That went fine for years, as I slowly improved from my 15 index to a 7, overcoming deeply imbedded bad habits well past middle age. Then I really got to the heart of a more fundamentally sound swing, and the big, all-related changes around a shallowed swing plane. I practice a lot and not totally unintelligently, but wow my game went way south and has stayed way south for 6-8 weeks.



Then playing yesterday, on a little pitch shot (which is now a very simple shot for me, no thoughts, just a feel of rhythm) I noticed right near impact myself feel, without any deliberate intent, exactly what impact should feel like. It just ... occurred. And the pitch was perfect.



What I concluded was... wow. What if I really do know how to make a swing and don't have to have these deliberate, conscious intentions. What if I just trust myself - my deep mind - because this isn't like Galloway's 'bounce-hit' where he distracts the conscious mind - because at the moment of truth in the pitch I had a 'micro-thought/feel' that was dead on accurate. It was more like, just trust my deep knowledge base to know how to direct the swing. This for the first time made sense to me about how to integrate my practice and improving with playing.



So, what I am thinking is.. practice does indeed include a lot of intention because you have to create this deep knowledge base to draw from - 'do this move this way, deepen the internal feel through repetition' but playing is different. What I did yesterday was rehearse whatever feel I believed I wanted, get a clear idea of the shot, what it felt like to hit it, but when I swung, not to try to replicate or create this, but to just pay attention and let my deeper mind direct whatever I needed to do.



Any thoughts? I have posted enough stuff that I thought I had figured out only to find a week later that it was total rubbish, and this may be that way, too, but somehow this feels like maybe it is a big deal in my learning how to play this game to my potential.
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Comments

  • Jim WaldronJim Waldron Balance Point Golf Schools Sponsors Posts: 3,214 ✭✭
    #1 with a bullet!



    This concept is one of primary ones in how I teach the mental game.



    You train so that you deepend the imprint of the new movement pattern, so that when you are on the course, you just "play" golf.



    You do not "work" golf - but unfortunately "work" golf is how most golfers experience the game.



    Letting your body move the way it wants to move with ZERO interference from the conscious mind is an extremely important thing to understand about athletic performance, in any sport.
  • golfarb1golfarb1 Members Posts: 180 ✭✭
    edited Sep 15, 2018 #3
    Steve Yellin wrote a book,"The fluid motion factor" and coaches with a similar idea that Mr Waldron describes in his last sentence



    Mr Yellin points out that "quieting the mind" allows the body to move with optimum results by minimizing the effect of the conscious mind."Quieting the mind" is not visualization or being the ball or confidence

    This concept is taken a step further with the "focus band".The "focus band" is a portable device which uses a a very limited form of neurofeedback to generate sounds indicating the "quiet mind"

    A derivative concept is the "quiet eye" which is helpful in the short game .It is the basis of research contained in book by Joan Vickers
  • PepperturboPepperturbo Midwest and SouthwestMembers Posts: 15,431 ✭✭
    The purpose of practice is to consciously ingrain all aspects of making the shot including swing mechanics.



    Playing is completely different. Before I near the ball I take in all that's needed that may affect the shot, including obstacles and bailout area; then a moment directly behind the ball to visualize and concentrate on the line of my shot for a moment then address the ball. At that point, I don't think about much else other than a good takeaway and keeping my head down. image/beach.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':beach:' />
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  • wmblake2000wmblake2000 Members Posts: 5,702 ✭✭
    The way I experienced it yesterday was it wasn’t so unconscious that I didn’t have what I’ll call ‘mini thoughts’ - not really verbal (not enough time in the middle of a downswing) but a definite instant of intention - it seems to me the more I just trusted that I’d know what to do, the better.
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  • wmblake2000wmblake2000 Members Posts: 5,702 ✭✭
    golfarb1 wrote:
    Steve Yellin wrote a book,"The fluid motion factor" and coaches with a similar idea that Mr Waldron describes in his last sentence



    Mr Yellin points out that "quieting the mind" allows the body to move with optimum results by minimizing the effect of the conscious mind."Quieting the mind" is not visualization or being the ball or confidence

    This concept is taken a step further with the "focus band".The "focus band" is a portable device which uses a a very limited form of neurofeedback to generate sounds indicating the "quiet mind"

    A derivative concept is the "quiet eye" which is helpful in the short game .It is the basis of research contained in book by Joan Vickers




    It’s the ‘quiet mind’ that always threw me. For me because I have done meditation practice for a long time that idea seems different from what playing golf, even as I understand it after yesterday, needs. Quiet for me really equals no intention at all - too quiet to make a meaningful swing.



    So it is seeming to me there’s this optimal zone of intention - not so much that I’m thinking or even imagining the feeling of ‘do this or that’ but more like let my autopilot do the driving but don’t erase the autopilot, if that makes any sense. Let it have a voice which is more mental activity than a quiet mind.



    But this is all conditional. I’m clearly still figuring this all out.
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  • PepperturboPepperturbo Midwest and SouthwestMembers Posts: 15,431 ✭✭
    Practice builds the mechanics but also the trust we need in our ability to execute the shot.

    It's a fair bet people that seldom practice have rampant questions running through their minds, and the last one is can I make this shot. Not good for a positive outcome image/beach.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':beach:' />
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    • ProV1


  • wmblake2000wmblake2000 Members Posts: 5,702 ✭✭
    The purpose of practice is to consciously ingrain all aspects of making the shot including swing mechanics.



    Playing is completely different. Before I near the ball I take in all that's needed that may affect the shot, including obstacles and bailout area; then a moment directly behind the ball to visualize and concentrate on the line of my shot for a moment then address the ball. At that point, I don't think about much else other than a good takeaway and keeping my head down. image/beach.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':beach:' />




    This is kind of my question. I was even wondering if I wanted to deliberately think about even the simple thing like good takeaway. It seemed to me like the goal - maybe the entire goal- was to trust and that was the core conscious intention.



    But this is just an early theory for me. Eager to test it out!!
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  • wmblake2000wmblake2000 Members Posts: 5,702 ✭✭
    #1 with a bullet!



    This concept is one of primary ones in how I teach the mental game.



    You train so that you deepend the imprint of the new movement pattern, so that when you are on the course, you just "play" golf.



    You do not "work" golf - but unfortunately "work" golf is how most golfers experience the game.



    Letting your body move the way it wants to move with ZERO interference from the conscious mind is an extremely important thing to understand about athletic performance, in any sport.




    Here’s the other thing. In the midst of a massive change where at some point I need to integrate several new feels that I have worked on a lot and am still ingraining - that’s just too much to think about. It seemed to me yesterday the real downside of all that deliberate intention was tension and lack of fluid rhythm. So my trust swings were not as good as my best range swings. But they are trending in that direction. That’s good enough!



    Thanks for your feedback! I think I’ve figured something out that matters to me.
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  • wmblake2000wmblake2000 Members Posts: 5,702 ✭✭
    PS, Jim. I now see even more clearly why you (and others) suggest very slow motion practice. You’re really trying to increase your connection to a feel.
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  • golfarb1golfarb1 Members Posts: 180 ✭✭
    edited Sep 15, 2018 #11

    golfarb1 wrote:
    Steve Yellin wrote a book,"The fluid motion factor" and coaches with a similar idea that Mr Waldron describes in his last sentence



    Mr Yellin points out that "quieting the mind" allows the body to move with optimum results by minimizing the effect of the conscious mind."Quieting the mind" is not visualization or being the ball or confidence

    This concept is taken a step further with the "focus band".The "focus band" is a portable device which uses a a very limited form of neurofeedback to generate sounds indicating the "quiet mind"

    A derivative concept is the "quiet eye" which is helpful in the short game .It is the basis of research contained in book by Joan Vickers




    It’s the ‘quiet mind’ that always threw me. For me because I have done meditation practice for a long time that idea seems different from what playing golf, even as I understand it after yesterday, needs. Quiet for me really equals no intention at all - too quiet to make a meaningful swing.



    So it is seeming to me there’s this optimal zone of intention - not so much that I’m thinking or even imagining the feeling of ‘do this or that’ but more like let my autopilot do the driving but don’t erase the autopilot, if that makes any sense. Let it have a voice which is more mental activity than a quiet mind.



    But this is all conditional. I’m clearly still figuring this all out.


    Before you hit the ball ,you are lining up ,aiming,thinking about any curvature of the shot and setting up,all conscious thoughts.But after doing this is the time when you need to eliminate any further conscious thoughts,mediate if you please,hum a mantra just before starting your swing and let your body swing.

    What good does it do you to think about the water hazard on the right or the woods on the left at this point?Your body is only going to react to these thoughts by tensing up,resulting in a self fulfilling prophecy of probably negative results



    Heart rate,blood pressure,and breathing rates all are considered involuntary bodily functions,but Yogis are able to significantly lower these bodily functions through meditation.You should think of the golf swing in the same way as an involuntary body function .whereby meditation will help to maximimze your perfomance.

    Now quieting the mind or meditation is not going to change anyone from a 25 handicap into a touring pro ,but it will help to maximize your SPECIFIC potential.
    Post edited by Unknown User on
  • Nard_SNard_S Members Posts: 3,214 ✭✭
    I find it beneficial to practice the meta-awareness needed for play ....in practice. Warm up via feels and intuition, end via feels and intuition. Do work on mechanics if desired but be sure to trigger a sense of play mode often too. Listen, observe, take in, then wonk on improvements. Repeat and rinse. Practice modes of awareness so in actual play it can be used effectively For me, it's made rounds a lot more rewarding and enjoyable this year. Been staying clear headed and "in it" till last putt on 18th and ability to auto-correct has improved much. I understand my demons a lot better now and do not jump in a rabbit hole over them.
  • MountainGoatMountainGoat Mid-MarylandMembers Posts: 1,670 ✭✭
    A single conscious thought diverts the arrow from its intended path.
  • wmblake2000wmblake2000 Members Posts: 5,702 ✭✭
    golfarb1 wrote:

    golfarb1 wrote:
    Steve Yellin wrote a book,"The fluid motion factor" and coaches with a similar idea that Mr Waldron describes in his last sentence



    Mr Yellin points out that "quieting the mind" allows the body to move with optimum results by minimizing the effect of the conscious mind."Quieting the mind" is not visualization or being the ball or confidence

    This concept is taken a step further with the "focus band".The "focus band" is a portable device which uses a a very limited form of neurofeedback to generate sounds indicating the "quiet mind"

    A derivative concept is the "quiet eye" which is helpful in the short game .It is the basis of research contained in book by Joan Vickers




    It’s the ‘quiet mind’ that always threw me. For me because I have done meditation practice for a long time that idea seems different from what playing golf, even as I understand it after yesterday, needs. Quiet for me really equals no intention at all - too quiet to make a meaningful swing.



    So it is seeming to me there’s this optimal zone of intention - not so much that I’m thinking or even imagining the feeling of ‘do this or that’ but more like let my autopilot do the driving but don’t erase the autopilot, if that makes any sense. Let it have a voice which is more mental activity than a quiet mind.



    But this is all conditional. I’m clearly still figuring this all out.


    Before you hit the ball ,you are lining up ,aiming,thinking about any curvature of the shot and setting up,all conscious thoughts.But after doing this is the time when you need to eliminate any further conscious thoughts,mediate if you please,hum a mantra just before starting your swing and let your body swing.

    What good does it do you to think about the water hazard on the right or the woods on the left at this point?Your body is only going to react to these thoughts by tensing up,resulting in a self fulfilling prophecy of probably negative results



    Heart rate,blood pressure,and breathing rates all are considered involuntary bodily functions,but Yogis are able to significantly lower these bodily functions through meditation.You should think of the golf swing in the same way as an involuntary body function .whereby meditation will help to maximimze your perfomance.

    Now quieting the mind or meditation is not going to change anyone from a 25 handicap into a touring pro ,but it will help to maximize your SPECIFIC potential.




    So what do you do with your attention during a swing?
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  • MountainGoatMountainGoat Mid-MarylandMembers Posts: 1,670 ✭✭




    So what do you do with your attention during a swing?




    You focus on the target.
  • wmblake2000wmblake2000 Members Posts: 5,702 ✭✭




    So what do you do with your attention during a swing?




    You focus on the target.




    I don’t mean this to sound skeptical and it might, so apologies in advance.



    When I focus on the target, or whatever that means to me, that’s ... confusing. It seems to create as much tension for me as intending to make some kind of motion.



    What has made sense is I see the target and imagine the shot, and feel what creates it - and rehearse it. But my sense right now is I also don’t want to think or imagine the target as I swing - this is still in the neighborhood of intending to make a movement with an emphasis on ‘intending.’



    I am thinking I want to cultivate trust most of all. I can do this sometimes (pretty often actually) when I putt, chip or pitch.



    So my theory today is what works best during the shot is to focus my attention on trust and sort of what I’d call openness to ... it’s like the swing is dynamic (developing in time, eg 1.5 secs or whatever it is) and I want to stay open during this time to be creative or reactive to what is happening. Let my mind be free to direct me real time.



    Look, this sounds pretty flaky to me and I wrote it, but that’s the best I can describe what I am thinking.



    Maybe another point is.. I know very well most of the theories about all of this. But none of them ever really jelled with me, and it wasn’t for lack of trying. Maybe it’s the kind of thing I can’t be taught but have to learn for it to actually be useful. And this description is my best shot at it, at least right now.

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  • baudibaudi Members Posts: 643 ✭✭
    edited Sep 16, 2018 #17
    To me the key is mindfulness. Most modern 'mentalists' who talk of flow and zone or conscience vs subconscience I ignore.

    In essence when the target is locked in and when I am ready to swing I focus on swing. Why should I focus on my target when it is already locked in?

    Most of the time target is pushed to the background and replaced by landing spot or curve point. Or even strike point.

    Fundamentally the marksman aims at him self. (=quote)





    Sorry for being so outspoken. It is not meant as an attack. It is a personal view.
    Post edited by Unknown User on
  • MountainGoatMountainGoat Mid-MarylandMembers Posts: 1,670 ✭✭



    So what do you do with your attention during a swing?




    You focus on the target.




    I don’t mean this to sound skeptical and it might, so apologies in advance.



    When I focus on the target, or whatever that means to me, that’s ... confusing. It seems to create as much tension for me as intending to make some kind of motion.



    What has made sense is I see the target and imagine the shot, and feel what creates it - and rehearse it. But my sense right now is I also don’t want to think or imagine the target as I swing - this is still in the neighborhood of intending to make a movement with an emphasis on ‘intending.’



    I am thinking I want to cultivate trust most of all. I can do this sometimes (pretty often actually) when I putt, chip or pitch.



    So my theory today is what works best during the shot is to focus my attention on trust and sort of what I’d call openness to ... it’s like the swing is dynamic (developing in time, eg 1.5 secs or whatever it is) and I want to stay open during this time to be creative or reactive to what is happening. Let my mind be free to direct me real time.



    Look, this sounds pretty flaky to me and I wrote it, but that’s the best I can describe what I am thinking.



    Maybe another point is.. I know very well most of the theories about all of this. But none of them ever really jelled with me, and it wasn’t for lack of trying. Maybe it’s the kind of thing I can’t be taught but have to learn for it to actually be useful. And this description is my best shot at it, at least right now.




    All I can do is tell you what I do. You have to have something in your head; it's simply impossible to play without focusing on something. I focus on the target (landing spot) and let my swing adjust itself to that end. By that I mean that the image of the target stays in my mind all the way thru the swing. That's a VERY hard thing to do. What I discovered is that the modern, PGA-approved golf swing doesn't lend itself very well to the target approach. So, when I decided to travel this path, I had to remake my swing to allow the focus I wanted. That was a solitary exercise, because I never found a PGA teacher who knew how to guide it. Every single one of them is a mechanic, and they put your focus on swing keys inside your body. I don't have swing keys; I have the target, and I had to develop training methods to help me sharpen that focus.
  • gentlesgentles Members Posts: 1,867 ✭✭
    This is a really interesting topic, fascinating stuff.



    Adam Young has a great section in "The Practice Manual" (or his online NLG course) where he talks about the locus of attention. In a very small nutshell there are 5 different things you can focus on during the swing:
    1. Internal - a focus on the movement of a specific body part (e.g. moving left shoulder, rotating hips)
    2. External process - focus on what you want to happen as a result of the movement (e.g. focus on striking the center of the face, making ball first contact etc)
    3. External result - focus on the ball flight or the result (e.g. focus on trying to hit a draw, or holing the putt)
    4. Neutral - focus on something unrelated to the performance of the shot (e.g. humming, "back-hit", counting in your head)
    5. Transcendental - this is essentially what people refer to as being in "the zone" where you have no conscious thoughts but performance is high


    You can test these for yourself and figure out what works best. The first two are best for changing a movement, but the lower 3 are likely better for performance. Making a swing change moves from 1, to 2, through to 5.



    Everyone is different and what works for you might not work for others. It seems like OP found a thought that is external, but still enables the body to move in the desired way. I think that is what happens when practicing a movement becomes "ingrained", i.e. you can trigger a more right path just by thinking about how you want to strike the ball, rather than how you want to move the body.
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  • wmblake2000wmblake2000 Members Posts: 5,702 ✭✭
    baudi wrote:
    To me the key is mindfulness. Most modern 'mentalists' who talk of flow and zone or conscience vs subconscience I ignore.

    In essence when the target is locked in and when I am ready to swing I focus on swing. Why should I focus on my target when it is already locked in?

    Most of the time target is pushed to the background and replaced by landing spot or curve point. Or even strike point.

    Fundamentally the marksman aims at him self. (=quote)





    Sorry for being so outspoken. It is not meant as an attack. It is a personal view.




    No need to apologize. This is such a vague topic and I really wanted to hear more about what you do, how you do it. I doubt there is one ‘right’ approach - my guess is each of us has a certain capacity of what works and doesn’t work (which can evolve and shift).



    I know my own beliefs re this are pretty conditional...
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  • wmblake2000wmblake2000 Members Posts: 5,702 ✭✭
    gentles wrote:
    This is a really interesting topic, fascinating stuff.



    Adam Young has a great section in "The Practice Manual" (or his online NLG course) where he talks about the locus of attention. In a very small nutshell there are 5 different things you can focus on during the swing:
    1. Internal - a focus on the movement of a specific body part (e.g. moving left shoulder, rotating hips)
    2. External process - focus on what you want to happen as a result of the movement (e.g. focus on striking the center of the face, making ball first contact etc)
    3. External result - focus on the ball flight or the result (e.g. focus on trying to hit a draw, or holing the putt)
    4. Neutral - focus on something unrelated to the performance of the shot (e.g. humming, "back-hit", counting in your head)
    5. Transcendental - this is essentially what people refer to as being in "the zone" where you have no conscious thoughts but performance is high


    You can test these for yourself and figure out what works best. The first two are best for changing a movement, but the lower 3 are likely better for performance. Making a swing change moves from 1, to 2, through to 5.



    Everyone is different and what works for you might not work for others. It seems like OP found a thought that is external, but still enables the body to move in the desired way. I think that is what happens when practicing a movement becomes "ingrained", i.e. you can trigger a more right path just by thinking about how you want to strike the ball, rather than how you want to move the body.




    Great summary. That is really helpful and makes a lot of sense to me. I will get this book.




    So what do you do with your attention during a swing?




    You focus on the target.




    I don’t mean this to sound skeptical and it might, so apologies in advance.



    When I focus on the target, or whatever that means to me, that’s ... confusing. It seems to create as much tension for me as intending to make some kind of motion.



    What has made sense is I see the target and imagine the shot, and feel what creates it - and rehearse it. But my sense right now is I also don’t want to think or imagine the target as I swing - this is still in the neighborhood of intending to make a movement with an emphasis on ‘intending.’



    I am thinking I want to cultivate trust most of all. I can do this sometimes (pretty often actually) when I putt, chip or pitch.



    So my theory today is what works best during the shot is to focus my attention on trust and sort of what I’d call openness to ... it’s like the swing is dynamic (developing in time, eg 1.5 secs or whatever it is) and I want to stay open during this time to be creative or reactive to what is happening. Let my mind be free to direct me real time.



    Look, this sounds pretty flaky to me and I wrote it, but that’s the best I can describe what I am thinking.



    Maybe another point is.. I know very well most of the theories about all of this. But none of them ever really jelled with me, and it wasn’t for lack of trying. Maybe it’s the kind of thing I can’t be taught but have to learn for it to actually be useful. And this description is my best shot at it, at least right now.




    All I can do is tell you what I do. You have to have something in your head; it's simply impossible to play without focusing on something. I focus on the target (landing spot) and let my swing adjust itself to that end. By that I mean that the image of the target stays in my mind all the way thru the swing. That's a VERY hard thing to do. What I discovered is that the modern, PGA-approved golf swing doesn't lend itself very well to the target approach. So, when I decided to travel this path, I had to remake my swing to allow the focus I wanted. That was a solitary exercise, because I never found a PGA teacher who knew how to guide it. Every single one of them is a mechanic, and they put your focus on swing keys inside your body. I don't have swing keys; I have the target, and I had to develop training methods to help me sharpen that focus.




    What are the methods you use to sharpen your focus?
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  • deadsolid...shankdeadsolid...shank ClubWRX Posts: 14,671 ClubWRX
    gentles wrote:


    This is a really interesting topic, fascinating stuff.



    Adam Young has a great section in "The Practice Manual" (or his online NLG course) where he talks about the locus of attention. In a very small nutshell there are 5 different things you can focus on during the swing:
    1. Internal - a focus on the movement of a specific body part (e.g. moving left shoulder, rotating hips)
    2. External process - focus on what you want to happen as a result of the movement (e.g. focus on striking the center of the face, making ball first contact etc)
    3. External result - focus on the ball flight or the result (e.g. focus on trying to hit a draw, or holing the putt)
    4. Neutral - focus on something unrelated to the performance of the shot (e.g. humming, "back-hit", counting in your head)
    5. Transcendental - this is essentially what people refer to as being in "the zone" where you have no conscious thoughts but performance is high


    You can test these for yourself and figure out what works best. The first two are best for changing a movement, but the lower 3 are likely better for performance. Making a swing change moves from 1, to 2, through to 5.



    Everyone is different and what works for you might not work for others. It seems like OP found a thought that is external, but still enables the body to move in the desired way. I think that is what happens when practicing a movement becomes "ingrained", i.e. you can trigger a more right path just by thinking about how you want to strike the ball, rather than how you want to move the body.




    Interesting. First time I’ve heard that. I’ve always considered myself very mechanical becasue I am very much a swing thought person.



    I have a natural swing “flaw” that happens if I don’t guard against it. So I always have that internal focus thing going where I’m concentrating on a particular movement.
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  • wmblake2000wmblake2000 Members Posts: 5,702 ✭✭
    gentles wrote:


    This is a really interesting topic, fascinating stuff.



    Adam Young has a great section in "The Practice Manual" (or his online NLG course) where he talks about the locus of attention. In a very small nutshell there are 5 different things you can focus on during the swing:
    1. Internal - a focus on the movement of a specific body part (e.g. moving left shoulder, rotating hips)
    2. External process - focus on what you want to happen as a result of the movement (e.g. focus on striking the center of the face, making ball first contact etc)
    3. External result - focus on the ball flight or the result (e.g. focus on trying to hit a draw, or holing the putt)
    4. Neutral - focus on something unrelated to the performance of the shot (e.g. humming, "back-hit", counting in your head)
    5. Transcendental - this is essentially what people refer to as being in "the zone" where you have no conscious thoughts but performance is high


    You can test these for yourself and figure out what works best. The first two are best for changing a movement, but the lower 3 are likely better for performance. Making a swing change moves from 1, to 2, through to 5.



    Everyone is different and what works for you might not work for others. It seems like OP found a thought that is external, but still enables the body to move in the desired way. I think that is what happens when practicing a movement becomes "ingrained", i.e. you can trigger a more right path just by thinking about how you want to strike the ball, rather than how you want to move the body.




    Interesting. First time I’ve heard that. I’ve always considered myself very mechanical becasue I am very much a swing thought person.



    I have a natural swing “flaw” that happens if I don’t guard against it. So I always have that internal focus thing going where I’m concentrating on a particular movement.




    This! But what I just happened upon the other day is how to break out of that on the course... mainly because I came to believe it does more harm than good. This is now what I think of as practice mode (although I also want to practice ‘playing mode’)



    For example for a long time I have been aware that how I focused in practice - the depth of mechanical awareness - was impossible while playing. Now I think that the whole focus on ‘make this motion’ is not helpful when I am trying to play golf and score.
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  • Jim WaldronJim Waldron Balance Point Golf Schools Sponsors Posts: 3,214 ✭✭
    In my Focal Point System, which is about what you direct your attention/awareness on, there are four categories that have been proven to work well, in my interviews with top players over the past 50 years.



    1. Target Picture - by far the most commonly reported focal point for the mind. Meaning you "picture" the ball in the sky in line with your target, or even a concrete object in the distance beyond the target.



    2. Body - there is some risk in using this category, since the default mode that most golfers will use is to internally picture a moving body part, or they will "talk to" that moving body part. Both are forms of self-delusion that are quite common in golf, since the thinking mind does not have the ability to directly control high speed moving body parts with any kind of precision or reliability. It is why "swing thoughts" - at least the way most golfers define that term - do not work. Swing "feels" are a whole different animal. They can indeed work well as a focal point for the mind IF you already have a new movement pattern established past the 51% tipping point in your subconscious mind, ie already on the way to being a habit. There are two ways you can use your mind to focus on a body part using feel: you can simply hold the memory of the feel sensation that you get when you perform that new pattern correctly, and then hope that your subconscious mind "gets the message" (some degree of randomness here since often it will NOT get that message until you are closer to the 90% range of forming a habit), OR you can simply passively notice the feel sensations from any one body part, without any expectation that this kind of focus will create a new movement pattern. Focusing on your grip pressure, for example.



    95% of the focal points in this category should be done through the feel channel. The other 5% are using auditory channel or your own inner voice saying the words "One-One" as a tempo cue (Anika won many times using that voice in her head as a focal point) Voice channel can also be used for Rhythm.



    I never want my students to use ANY sort of visual imagery about their body. It tends to create a flinch and has a very poor track record for triggering a new movement pattern, unless you are well past the 90% mark of forming a habit.



    3. Neutral or any non-golf focal point. Its a good one for folks with anxiety about the shot outcome. "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall..." or counting backwards from 100 are two examples.



    4. Peak Performance states are positive emotional states like Confidence, Detachment, Courage, Calmness, Trust, Commitment, Freedom, etc. You access the emotional state and focus your attention on that emotional feeling in your body during the swing.



    With few exceptions (and then only for advanced students) I never want my students to focus on the instrument/golf club (which can only be done through internal visual channel, ie fantasizing about the clubhead will never help and only tends to encourage more self-delusion, and tends to make you flinch or trigger Steering or Scooping or Hit Impulse). Feeling the weight of the clubhead in your fingers is another matter entirely, and works very well. And I never want them to focus on the ball or on impact between the ball and clubhead - that kind of focus is almost always present in golfers with the yips.
  • starsail85starsail85 Members Posts: 4,805 ✭✭
    Nice post Jim



    One thing that has helped me with everything is to focus on breathing out at a constant rate for the duration of the whole swing . I don’t tend to flinch or grab with this method and it feels good - what state of mind is that ?
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  • Jim WaldronJim Waldron Balance Point Golf Schools Sponsors Posts: 3,214 ✭✭
    starsail85 wrote:


    Nice post Jim



    One thing that has helped me with everything is to focus on breathing out at a constant rate for the duration of the whole swing . I don't tend to flinch or grab with this method and it feels good - what state of mind is that ?




    Its a good one and I use it all the time for my yip students, who almost universally will hold their breath right before they start their swing or stroke.



    I teach inhale through slightly open mouth (keeps jaw and neck muscles soft) and nose on backswing, exhale to the Finish on forward swing. When you flinch or yip, you tend to close your mouth and hold your breath on forward swing especially.



    You can directly correlate the point in time in the forward swing when the breath is held to the point in the swing when the flinch or yip starts to happen, ie mainly on the ball and impact.
  • deadsolid...shankdeadsolid...shank ClubWRX Posts: 14,671 ClubWRX


    In my Focal Point System, which is about what you direct your attention/awareness on, there are four categories that have been proven to work well, in my interviews with top players over the past 50 years.



    1. Target Picture - by far the most commonly reported focal point for the mind. Meaning you "picture" the ball in the sky in line with your target, or even a concrete object in the distance beyond the target.



    2. Body - there is some risk in using this category, since the default mode that most golfers will use is to internally picture a moving body part, or they will "talk to" that moving body part. Both are forms of self-delusion that are quite common in golf, since the thinking mind does not have the ability to directly control high speed moving body parts with any kind of precision or reliability. It is why "swing thoughts" - at least the way most golfers define that term - do not work. Swing "feels" are a whole different animal. They can indeed work well as a focal point for the mind IF you already have a new movement pattern established past the 51% tipping point in your subconscious mind, ie already on the way to being a habit. There are two ways you can use your mind to focus on a body part using feel: you can simply hold the memory of the feel sensation that you get when you perform that new pattern correctly, and then hope that your subconscious mind "gets the message" (some degree of randomness here since often it will NOT get that message until you are closer to the 90% range of forming a habit), OR you can simply passively notice the feel sensations from any one body part, without any expectation that this kind of focus will create a new movement pattern. Focusing on your grip pressure, for example.



    95% of the focal points in this category should be done through the feel channel. The other 5% are using auditory channel or your own inner voice saying the words "One-One" as a tempo cue (Anika won many times using that voice in her head as a focal point) Voice channel can also be used for Rhythm.



    I never want my students to use ANY sort of visual imagery about their body. It tends to create a flinch and has a very poor track record for triggering a new movement pattern, unless you are well past the 90% mark of forming a habit.



    3. Neutral or any non-golf focal point. Its a good one for folks with anxiety about the shot outcome. "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall..." or counting backwards from 100 are two examples.



    4. Peak Performance states are positive emotional states like Confidence, Detachment, Courage, Calmness, Trust, Commitment, Freedom, etc. You access the emotional state and focus your attention on that emotional feeling in your body during the swing.



    With few exceptions (and then only for advanced students) I never want my students to focus on the instrument/golf club (which can only be done through internal visual channel, ie fantasizing about the clubhead will never help and only tends to encourage more self-delusion, and tends to make you flinch or trigger Steering or Scooping or Hit Impulse). Feeling the weight of the clubhead in your fingers is another matter entirely, and works very well. And I never want them to focus on the ball or on impact between the ball and clubhead - that kind of focus is almost always present in golfers with the yips.




    Way too much for my simple mind to comprehend!�� I don’t know if its a thought or feel, but I just try to make sure I don’t roll the club inside when I take it away.
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  • JasonicJasonic Gamer Banned Posts: 3,571 ✭✭
    edited Sep 16, 2018 #28




    So what do you do with your attention during a swing?




    You focus on the target.




    I don’t mean this to sound skeptical and it might, so apologies in advance.



    When I focus on the target, or whatever that means to me, that’s ... confusing. It seems to create as much tension for me as intending to make some kind of motion.



    What has made sense is I see the target and imagine the shot, and feel what creates it - and rehearse it. But my sense right now is I also don’t want to think or imagine the target as I swing - this is still in the neighborhood of intending to make a movement with an emphasis on ‘intending.’



    I am thinking I want to cultivate trust most of all. I can do this sometimes (pretty often actually) when I putt, chip or pitch.



    So my theory today is what works best during the shot is to focus my attention on trust and sort of what I’d call openness to ... it’s like the swing is dynamic (developing in time, eg 1.5 secs or whatever it is) and I want to stay open during this time to be creative or reactive to what is happening. Let my mind be free to direct me real time.



    Look, this sounds pretty flaky to me and I wrote it, but that’s the best I can describe what I am thinking.



    Maybe another point is.. I know very well most of the theories about all of this. But none of them ever really jelled with me, and it wasn’t for lack of trying. Maybe it’s the kind of thing I can’t be taught but have to learn for it to actually be useful. And this description is my best shot at it, at least right now.




    All I can do is tell you what I do. You have to have something in your head; it's simply impossible to play without focusing on something. I focus on the target (landing spot) and let my swing adjust itself to that end. By that I mean that the image of the target stays in my mind all the way thru the swing. That's a VERY hard thing to do. What I discovered is that the modern, PGA-approved golf swing doesn't lend itself very well to the target approach. So, when I decided to travel this path, I had to remake my swing to allow the focus I wanted. That was a solitary exercise, because I never found a PGA teacher who knew how to guide it. Every single one of them is a mechanic, and they put your focus on swing keys inside your body. I don't have swing keys; I have the target, and I had to develop training methods to help me sharpen that focus.




    Curious, what is your handicap? Or are you a professional?
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  • Jim WaldronJim Waldron Balance Point Golf Schools Sponsors Posts: 3,214 ✭✭



    In my Focal Point System, which is about what you direct your attention/awareness on, there are four categories that have been proven to work well, in my interviews with top players over the past 50 years.



    1. Target Picture - by far the most commonly reported focal point for the mind. Meaning you "picture" the ball in the sky in line with your target, or even a concrete object in the distance beyond the target.



    2. Body - there is some risk in using this category, since the default mode that most golfers will use is to internally picture a moving body part, or they will "talk to" that moving body part. Both are forms of self-delusion that are quite common in golf, since the thinking mind does not have the ability to directly control high speed moving body parts with any kind of precision or reliability. It is why "swing thoughts" - at least the way most golfers define that term - do not work. Swing "feels" are a whole different animal. They can indeed work well as a focal point for the mind IF you already have a new movement pattern established past the 51% tipping point in your subconscious mind, ie already on the way to being a habit. There are two ways you can use your mind to focus on a body part using feel: you can simply hold the memory of the feel sensation that you get when you perform that new pattern correctly, and then hope that your subconscious mind "gets the message" (some degree of randomness here since often it will NOT get that message until you are closer to the 90% range of forming a habit), OR you can simply passively notice the feel sensations from any one body part, without any expectation that this kind of focus will create a new movement pattern. Focusing on your grip pressure, for example.



    95% of the focal points in this category should be done through the feel channel. The other 5% are using auditory channel or your own inner voice saying the words "One-One" as a tempo cue (Anika won many times using that voice in her head as a focal point) Voice channel can also be used for Rhythm.



    I never want my students to use ANY sort of visual imagery about their body. It tends to create a flinch and has a very poor track record for triggering a new movement pattern, unless you are well past the 90% mark of forming a habit.



    3. Neutral or any non-golf focal point. Its a good one for folks with anxiety about the shot outcome. "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall..." or counting backwards from 100 are two examples.



    4. Peak Performance states are positive emotional states like Confidence, Detachment, Courage, Calmness, Trust, Commitment, Freedom, etc. You access the emotional state and focus your attention on that emotional feeling in your body during the swing.



    With few exceptions (and then only for advanced students) I never want my students to focus on the instrument/golf club (which can only be done through internal visual channel, ie fantasizing about the clubhead will never help and only tends to encourage more self-delusion, and tends to make you flinch or trigger Steering or Scooping or Hit Impulse). Feeling the weight of the clubhead in your fingers is another matter entirely, and works very well. And I never want them to focus on the ball or on impact between the ball and clubhead - that kind of focus is almost always present in golfers with the yips.




    Way too much for my simple mind to comprehend!�� I don’t know if its a thought or feel, but I just try to make sure I don’t roll the club inside when I take it away.




    Learning to distinguish between thinking and feeling is a skill that I teach every new student, not complicated at all - takes about 15 minutes to get it.
  • wmblake2000wmblake2000 Members Posts: 5,702 ✭✭



    In my Focal Point System, which is about what you direct your attention/awareness on, there are four categories that have been proven to work well, in my interviews with top players over the past 50 years.



    1. Target Picture - by far the most commonly reported focal point for the mind. Meaning you "picture" the ball in the sky in line with your target, or even a concrete object in the distance beyond the target.



    2. Body - there is some risk in using this category, since the default mode that most golfers will use is to internally picture a moving body part, or they will "talk to" that moving body part. Both are forms of self-delusion that are quite common in golf, since the thinking mind does not have the ability to directly control high speed moving body parts with any kind of precision or reliability. It is why "swing thoughts" - at least the way most golfers define that term - do not work. Swing "feels" are a whole different animal. They can indeed work well as a focal point for the mind IF you already have a new movement pattern established past the 51% tipping point in your subconscious mind, ie already on the way to being a habit. There are two ways you can use your mind to focus on a body part using feel: you can simply hold the memory of the feel sensation that you get when you perform that new pattern correctly, and then hope that your subconscious mind "gets the message" (some degree of randomness here since often it will NOT get that message until you are closer to the 90% range of forming a habit), OR you can simply passively notice the feel sensations from any one body part, without any expectation that this kind of focus will create a new movement pattern. Focusing on your grip pressure, for example.



    95% of the focal points in this category should be done through the feel channel. The other 5% are using auditory channel or your own inner voice saying the words "One-One" as a tempo cue (Anika won many times using that voice in her head as a focal point) Voice channel can also be used for Rhythm.



    I never want my students to use ANY sort of visual imagery about their body. It tends to create a flinch and has a very poor track record for triggering a new movement pattern, unless you are well past the 90% mark of forming a habit.



    3. Neutral or any non-golf focal point. Its a good one for folks with anxiety about the shot outcome. "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall..." or counting backwards from 100 are two examples.



    4. Peak Performance states are positive emotional states like Confidence, Detachment, Courage, Calmness, Trust, Commitment, Freedom, etc. You access the emotional state and focus your attention on that emotional feeling in your body during the swing.



    With few exceptions (and then only for advanced students) I never want my students to focus on the instrument/golf club (which can only be done through internal visual channel, ie fantasizing about the clubhead will never help and only tends to encourage more self-delusion, and tends to make you flinch or trigger Steering or Scooping or Hit Impulse). Feeling the weight of the clubhead in your fingers is another matter entirely, and works very well. And I never want them to focus on the ball or on impact between the ball and clubhead - that kind of focus is almost always present in golfers with the yips.




    Way too much for my simple mind to comprehend!�� I don’t know if its a thought or feel, but I just try to make sure I don’t roll the club inside when I take it away.




    Ha! I was practicing this today. It is my #1 hurdle. I don't know that I'll 100% ever just be able to trust I have permanently solved this!



    Here's the thing about thought vs feel, imo. Thinking - or commanding - (thinking, 'rotate left arm") is not nearly as intimate as recalling the feeling of the left arm rotating. It takes more time to do, and increases tension in the process.
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  • Nard_SNard_S Members Posts: 3,214 ✭✭
    I went to range and w/ some credit to this thread,hunkered down on meta awareness for all 70 balls. Not easily done plus it took me longer to hit them and was more fatigued when finished. Basically approached every shot like it was course play.It's one thing to have a target and visual or a focus it's another to discipline mind to process, turn on auto-pilot and then go quiet and just absorb, then rinse & repeat.



    What I got out of it was functional reps that can be utilized in course play. A training of mind to body and body to mind communication, I swung okay but not at peak and yet aside from a few poor Driver swings hit solid enough that on the course, I would be ecstatic with the consistency. Process was away from ball feel free to be internal and dictate objectives, as I approach ball, practice drill (akin to Justin Rose's) to tune to feel mode, follow through and catch a visual. With little dithering address, go auto-pilot (conscious mind is now in observational, spectator mode) & pull the trigger,. Absorb, assess, ponder, step away rinse & repeat.



    What has always been vexing is how free I swing on the range and how imprisoned I am on the course. Approaching practice in this way melds the two worlds and trains the mental side as well as the physical. A framework of pre & post shot routine established to keep mental game on track.Been passively aware of the mental thing in play but to practice it as thoroughly is new to me. Good day.

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