No Swing Thoughts!

Imagine your playing partner standing beside you as you’re addressing the ball, giving you all sorts of little reminders. Swing smoothly. Let your weight shift. Swing through the ball. Nice finish. How long do you think you would put up with that? One time, tops. So why do you put up with that kind of chatter from yourself every time you swing? The reminders like this that you give yourself as you’re about to swing, and especially during your swing, are just as destructive.

The reason you remind yourself to do something is that deep down you’re not sure you can do it. Or maybe you’re trying to use a swing thought to block out pressure you might be under at the moment. That’s negative thinking, and there’s no place for that on the golf course. Swing thoughts also isolate one part of your swing from the rest of it, overemphasizing one aspect of a movement that is supposed to be a unified whole. That will eventually throw everything else off, which is why swing thoughts only work for a hole or two.

When we’re awake, our conscious mind is in the foreground and will do anything it wants to. It wanders easily. We have to keep it under control when we play golf. We do that by accessing the subconscious mind. That part of our mind directs the conscious mind, but it can only do whatever we have put into it. When we have a particular swing key that we’ve practiced over and over, so much that it’s fully embedded in our subconscious mind, we’ve taken the first step. The second step is to access what we’ve practiced from the subconscious mind in a way that the conscious mind can’t start getting ideas of its own. Here’s how.

Take your practice swing, with the reminders that you think are necessary, but to remind yourself of how you want the swing to feel. Then step up to the ball and hit it right away, riding on that feeling. By starting right away, your conscious mind is captured in the feeling and doesn’t have the time to change to anything else. In addition, concentrating on the feeling of the whole swing gives you something positive to think about, and something that unifies the entire movement you’re about to make.

Do not delay or run through the feeling several times to make sure. Any delay gives time for the feeling fade which gives your conscious mind free reign to start messing you up, and repetitions won’t make it more right.

When you go through this process this every time you swing a golf club, whether on the practice range or on the course, you’ll absorb it. It takes continual repetition over time to get it down, though. You have years of an old way in there. You have to put more of the new way in there, this way, for it to come out when you play.

We’re all looking for something we can rely on shot after shot, that one constant that will never let us down. You won’t find it in your physical technique. Pressure doesn’t affect your grip, for example. Pressure affects your mind. That one constant you’re looking for has to be something you trust to keep your mind steady. Being guided by the feeling of the shot you’re about to hit is that constant. Learn it well.

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