Category Archives: swing thoughts

Golf Swing Thoughts

In almost every mental game book, you are told that having a swing thought can focus your mind on swinging the club the right way, and help keep out intrusive thoughts that would otherwise disrupt your swing.

I disagree.

Using a swing thought while you’re swinging at the ball is the fundamental mistake of the mental game. This is none other than allowing the conscious mind to intrude into a process that it should stay out of.

Most of what we do in life is automatic. We do not need conscious thought to eat a bowl of cereal, for example. We have done that so many times that we no longer have to pay careful attention to getting cereal in the spoon, and not spilling it while we bring the spoon up to our mouth.

In the same way, if we have a well-schooled golf swing, we don’t have to keep reminding ourselves how to swing.

A concert pianist spends no time thinking about where the fingers should go. To think about this during a performance would likely bring it to a frustrating halt.

When you’re over the ball, swing thoughts make you concentrate on just one part of your swing, to the detriment of all the rest. It’s best to avoid them altogether.

I have to admit, though, that a swing thought can work in the very short term.

Have you ever been on the range and had a hot swing idea pop into your head, started doing it, and hit three or four great shots in a row, and then, back to normal?

The magic can fade that fast. And then what do you do?

When you are swing thought oriented, golf becomes a continual search for the magic thought that will help you do what you can do quite well if you would just leave things alone.

Again, swing thoughts insert the conscious mind into a process where it doesn’t belong. If you can play golf with a calm mind, and make swinging the club as simple as eating your cereal, you don’t need any more help. You don’t have to remind your body how to hit this shot. It already knows what to do.

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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.