By Charlie Blanchard
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part 2 of a two-part column. Part 1 was published on September 16.
One of the dangers of overusing swing thoughts is that too many people try to cram too much information into a pre-film “what-have-you-do” review. It’s like they’re in the cockpit of a Boeing 767 and trying to go through a pre-flight checklist. In golf, confusion takes over, and no one’s body and muscles would be able to follow these tangled instructions.
You just have a golf ball on the ground and a golf club in your hand and grass as far as you can see; keep it simple, let’s not make it complicated. Keep it simple.
One, and only one, wavering thought. And make sure your balance keys aren’t conflicting or constricting. Starting a swing thought with “no” is not recommended. It is not a negative concept and notion, and you can subconsciously program it to produce an oscillation that has already been seen in your mind, below your threshold of consciousness. For example, a swing thought like “don’t hit the water” can cause brain synapses and body movements to ignore “no” and just push the ball into the water. It’s a funny thing about the brain and “no”.
Your best bet is to couple your swing or “key” thinking with a mental picture of what it really means. This requires that you not only visualize the actual shot you are planning, but also the actual swing move you are going to make. If you’re trying to do a hip curve without swinging, and your cue is “good curve,” engage your imagination with your cue, so you imagine yourself spinning on a barrel, with your weight on your left side (if you’re a right-hander). ). If you want to strengthen the key of the swing even more, do the rehearsal swing while placing your body weight on your left foot. And remember to practice any new procedures you want to make automatic or routine. In order to ingrain a swing thought, you must practice it repeatedly on the golf course so that nothing is new on the golf course. A swing thought should be just that – swing. No pre-launch thought should be about the outcome (eg, “don’t hit the water”), just the execution. Thinking about what will happen if you don’t do it right creates tension and will likely mean that you won’t be able to perform correctly.
Have you ever played with a golfer who hits his putt in a pond or off course and yells “this is what I didn’t want to do”? Something like this establishes the inseparable connection between the mind and the physical action that allows the golfer to accomplish what he wants. We are all creatures of habit, especially golfers. There is a theory in golf that if you have a flaw in your swing, it will never go away. When the pressure is high, or when you get a little nervous, the fault will reappear. For example, most of us tend to get a little fast when the heat is on. What to do? You need to find a small key that will help you swing with a good rhythm. Since a person’s memory is rarely infallible, it might be a good idea to keep a small notebook in your bag that contains reminders of certain balance keys that have worked in the past. In my case, I carry a 3×5 card with four different swing keys that have proved invaluable in many situations.
As a clinical psychologist, I was trained in cognitive-behavioral theory, so I fully appreciate the connection and interaction between body and mind; between emotion and thought; between cognition and visualization. It is precisely this dynamic of energy and complementary internal forces that prohibits any sensory or brain element from taking over. Just saying words to yourself won’t do. You can imagine the ball flying to the green, but if you haven’t felt the swinging motion needed to make the shot, you usually won’t get the result. Like almost all techniques and fundamentals of the game of golf, practice is necessary. Then, when you’re on the practice field, use your swing keys, hit the shots and watch the results. Practice matching what you think with what you do. Practice, practice, practice.