What swing thoughts are best and how many is too many?
You’ve probably seen this illustration before. What’s the right thought? What should I think of when I’m playing versus when I’m practicing? Should I have I left-sided thought or a right-sided thought? Is it more important to focus on backswing or downswing? Why am I thinking the same thought but I getting very inconsistent shots? Should I adjust my thoughts based on my previous shot?
I’m sure, if you’re like most golfers, you’ve had many of these questions. Learning to play golf, or learning any motor skill for that matter, is not easy. You create images and thoughts, and these lead to the brain directing the muscles to move so that the objective can be achieved. However, if the movements required to produce certain skills are not ingrained, or are ingrained so that poor outcomes are reached, then the student must learn how to produce the desired movements before better results can be expected.
Did you that multitasking has been proven to be virtually impossible? It is possible to have several thoughts coming at rapid intervals, but a person cannot focus but on one thing at a time. A player may have one thought that is focused on the desired target to play the shot. This signal can send appropriate signals throughout the body to accomplish hitting the ball toward the target. If you have the needed sills, then this scenario may be all that is needed. If you don’t have the needed skills, then you have to practice to develop these skills.
It takes awareness, practice, belief, and time to become proficient. You have to go through the thinking stages to get to the stage where you just allow your body to preform then needed shot. When you are learning a new skill or new swing pattern, you must think about the movements. However, once these skills have been developed, you must learn to allow your training to work. For example, let’s say that you hit weak slices that don’t go far and don’t generally go toward the target. You have to learn what causes that, and then you have to practice learning the needed change to accomplish a different result. This takes thought and focus on getting something to change. You have to give direction to movements. You can work on things slowly at first, learning to accomplish a clubface position that is not open while also learning a new swing path motion. Perhaps you accomplish this by changing a combination of how your hands are moving and how your hips are moving. Whatever the solution is, you can develop new skills by training new movements.
There is certainly a limit of how many things you should think about changing at one time. Generally, a person can focus on two on three aspects IF they are training in a slower motion. Once you go full speed, the one thought is all you can have. You can’t give your body too many instructions at normal speed and expect anything other than a wreck to occur. Every player has their “issues”. This means that every player has swing tendencies, and these tendencies will appear from time to time. As you develop skills to improve, you also learn thoughts and feels that allow you to produce desired changes. Typically, a golfer has a rotation of about 4 or 5 core swing thoughts that help that particular golfer. The key is to become more aware of how you can use these thoughts to help you play better golf.
It is vital to understand that you can’t have more than one thought (or feel based image) at one time. You may be better just have thoughts about the ball going to the target, or you may be better to have target as an image and a thought helping you achieve the desired shot. Both ways seem to work. Having many directive thoughts; such as move your right elbow in, turn your left hip, move your right knee in, straighten your left leg, etc., will not work. You can learn to develop skills by training your body and your thoughts, but you must learn to trust your training.
Most golfers accomplish better results by having external cues rather than internal cues. This means most golfers improve more rapidly when they focus on how the club is moving rather than how they are moving. For example, a golfer may have a thought of the clubhead moving out to the right of the target on the follow through. This may be better than thinking about moving your left hip forward in the downswing. Again, the key is to find your core thoughts. When you find something that helps, write it down. Talk it over with your coach and make sure you’re on the right track. The more awareness you have about YOUR swing, the better you will be.
Great article! “It takes awareness, practice, belief, and time to become proficient”, exactly learning and applying those would be essential for being a top player someday.