By Colin Cromack
How many times, after 'grinding' on the range, have you been told or said the words to your self Now, go out on course and trust it!?
Have you ever managed to trust your physical skills over a round of golf and just enjoy playing the game? When you hit those poor shots on course, what do you believe causes them? Golfers often react the same way and immediately evaluate their technique. Something did not feel right and attempts are made to correct it before playing the next shot. So what happened to the trust you spent hours 'developing' in practice? One errant shot is often enough for you to doubt your swing again, so how effective is your practice? For Pro's especially, it is immediately back to the range to 'fix' what was believed to be at fault. This I define as Golf's Destructive Doubt Cycle.
Does it sound familiar to you too? Unfortunately, Trust is not just like a magical cloak you can just throw over your shoulders when heading out to play. Trust has to be deliberately practiced at the practice range . Separate from any technical analysis. It also needs to become your DOMINANT behaviour in practice for it to become your dominant mentality in play. Many golfers can not understand why their great swing in practice disappears out on the course. The problem does not lie in how you play but in how you practice. So what is trust in golf? Why does it remain elusive regardless of the amount of effort you apply to developing your technical skills on the range?
In order to PERFORM any life skill successfully we must remove the conscious mind from attempting to CONTROL our physical actions. Conscious swing thoughts inhibit physical flow and destroy your natural ability to swing or putt a ball. So how do you practice golf today? Many believe physical repetition is the path to mastery. Your hours of range practice may demonstrate why this is not the case. What happens in every life skill we manage to perform successfully is our attentional focus switches from internal to external naturally. You can drive a car with total trust in your sub-conscious mind to control a vehicle where your life and that of others is at risk! So why can't you trust your sub-conscious mind to manage your actions when putting or swinging a golf club? Well, let us look at how you are uniquely being taught and practicing the game of golf.
If you are a dedicated golfer I am sure you own a number of technical training aids. They are an aid for training, NOT trusting. Have you ever owned a trusting aid? There's a reason for this. TRUST in golf (and life) only manifests itself when you STOP paying attention to your physical actions. What's wrong with ongoing use of training aids you may be asking? Every time you use a training aid, psychologically it's like putting your training wheels back on your bicycle. What does this tell you at the subconscious level? I don't trust my self. Consider this for 1 moment. HOW and when will you ever trust in competition that which is continually doubted in practice?
Golf has always been and continues to be taught with a polar opposite mentality to Trust and this lies at the heart of why so many struggle to play it and why so many walk away. From your very first lesson, when your attention is removed from the target (external focus) and onto your grip, stance, posture, takeaway etc. you are being coached to consciously control the physical action of your swing (internal focus).
Irrespective of your technical ability acquired you can spend your golfing life unwittingly switching your attention in practice from 1 body part to another trying to find the answer to your inconsistent play. This actually PREVENTS you from achieving the golf state of mind where performance lives (external focus) . If you need to read that last sentence again, please do so for many golfers have taken their game through this process and many continue to do so. So is there a more efficient way of learning how to practice and play the game of golf? There is now and it will reveal to you HOW to Train AND Trust for golf.
It should be clear to you by now that repetition alone does not produce mastery in sport/life/golf skills. In fact it can inhibit the acquisition of a skill if used inappropriately. Some sport research academics suggest 10,000 hours of practice are required to become an "expert". Whose methods do they use to draw such a conclusion do you think? What if the methods used are fundamentally flawed?
Your problems begin well before the 1st tee. It is not the NUMBER of hours which leads to expertise. It is what you choose to focus your ATTENTION on during those hours which matters . There is a vital brain function which must be understood in order to perform/play golf and it is called attentional/visual focus separation. This is prevented from occurring in golfers due to existing coaching practices, hence the 10,000 hour theory being presented by some academics. Research evidence is already revealing there is something odd in the way golf is being taught but little changes as evidenced by the average golf handicap over the past 50 years. Do you wonder why?
Target Oriented Golf is a comprehensive alternative remote GOLF COACHING program brought to you with the support and to complement Sportsmind. When you are ready to receive, we are ready to help with remote video coaching services wherever you may live. Please visit www.TargetOrientedGolf.com for details.
Until next time, enjoy your golf!
By Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc.(Hons) B.Ed.
The most talented player doesn't always win the match - it's the player who has the mental edge on their competition. How many times have you seen top seeds down two sets to love, being absolutely thrashed by an unseeded player ..... only to win the next three sets? How many times have you personally been defeated by someone you 'know' you should be able to beat, but they somehow always seem to have the wood on you?
The above scenarios are all about intimidation - being able to affect your opponent with your own intent, and of course, learning how to 'immunise' and shield yourself against such attacks.
Intimidation is not just about physical size, emotional outbursts, or verbal sledging - in fact the best intimidation tactics are the strong silent type that insidiously gnaw away at your opponents confidence, expose their weaknesses and undermine their abilities.
The best way to think of this concept is to begin with an example from the martial art of Aikido. When someone attacks you, there is a moment in which they gather their energy prior to expending it in the form of an attack. So there is a very small window of opportunity prior to an attack, in which you can take control of the situation.
This is identified physically in the person attacking by their taking an 'in-breath'. Before we can expend energy, we have to first gather energy in. Try it yourself - draw back your fist and arm as if you were going to punch someone, and notice how as you do, it's natural to take a breath in. Then you expel it as you punch.
This concept doesn't just apply to combat - in order to achieve anything, to do anything, there is a period of gathering energy first - then the expenditure of energy. For example, think of a tennis forehand or a golf swing - you first take back the club or racquet in order to develop the power to hit the ball. In Nature, and even in business, there are periods of withdrawal prior to bursts of growth or activity.
The idea for the Aikido exponent is to be aware of the movement of 'energy' in your partner, (through attention to their breathing and other non-verbal signals), and to blend with their attack at the point just prior to it happening, so as to re-direct their movement and energy to your purpose.
However it's not just the physical action that happens in someone attacking - a worthy opponent will also attack with their mind.
So we take action to 'catch' an opponent's arm or wrist in that window of opportunity before the completion of their in-breath and their attack, but it also means 'capturing' their mind; to blend with their attack at the point of intention.
What I do when I 'capture my opponent's mind' is to enter into their thought space and take control of their point of intention. So that just as they intend an action, I have already blended with that intention and turned it in another direction.
While this may sound very esoteric, I'm sure you've already experienced it, many times. Every time you've competed or interacted with someone and been able to somehow know - beyond logic - what they were going to do, is an example of this.
Also you may have been on the receiving end of the process! If you've ever felt totally controlled by someone else, or totally unconfident around them to the point where you're not acting or performing in your normal manner - they've captured your mind; or rather, you've allowedthem to capture your intention point.
Try the following exercise :
EXERCISE : Capturing Your Opponent's Mind
1. Begin with a short relaxation and imagine around yourself a bubble of positivity. [ An excellent six-step format for doing this is outlined in all the Sportsmind audio tapes ]
2. Now picture your opponent, see them in your mind's eye and associate into them: get a feel for how they move, what they see, and what they hear or say to themselves when they're playing.
3. Now simply intend to capture their intention - to know their plans, strategies and intentions.
4. Return to yourself and reflect on the exercise.
CASE STUDY : Cyclist
The above exercise is excellent for taking charge in a competitive interaction - and you will also want to know how to shield yourself against it, if someone applies it to you! A professional female cyclist asked me for some help in dealing with a situation in which her opponent was staring her down just prior to the start of a race - and this was putting her off.
Through using this process she was able to block her opponent's attempts to psych her out, and shield herself from her influence.
To some people, this concept of 'capturing your opponents mind' and the exercise I've just described may seem 'evil' or dishonourable. If this is the case, let me ask you two questions: Firstly, if it's OK to compete and struggle against someone physically during the game, then why is it any different to apply such mental pressure? What makes it all right to compete physically, but not mentally?
Secondly, when does the actual competition begin? Does it begin when the officials blow the whistle to begin, or while you're warming up, or when you first step onto the playing field? Many people think of a competition starting at the 'official' starting time of the first serve, or play, or whatever - but I would argue that it begins days, or even weeks before.
Give yourself an advantage in every competition by starting the game well before your opponent.
Deliberately smile at them and then ignore them. Prior to the game deliberately imagine them as puny, unfit and clumsy, then forget about them. They aren't important - YOU are.
Focus on the most important person - that's YOU. Remember all the training and hard work you've done to get here. Deliberately recollect and relive the best matches you've ever played: come from behind victories; easy closeout wins; times you served aces and returned powerfully; the cross court and line winners you've made; confident put-away volleys; etc. Highlight your best performances, and make them large and close in your mind's eye.
Now picture capturing your opponents mind. See yourself as an intimidating player.
[ The above article has been excerpted from my new book, Champion Thoughts, Champion Feelings, that shows you how to develop the thinking and feeling strategies and techniques of champions. For more information see www.sportsmind.com.au or contact Jeffrey Hodges at email@example.com Phone (07) 5445 7994 ]
About Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc.(AES) M.Sc.(Hons)
Jeffrey Hodges is a performance consultant to elite athletes, sporting teams and corporate clients. He is the author of the widely acclaimed "Sportsmind - An Athlete's Guide to Superperformance Through Mental & Emotional Training" and "Champion Thoughts, Champion Feelings"; creator of the Sportsmind performance enhancement workshops and audio tapes; and Director of the Sportsmind Institute for Human Performance Research.
He is a NLP Master Practitioner and Associate Trainer, and his Sportsmind programs have been endorsed by the NSW Dept Sport & Recreation, and recommended by top sportsclubs and successful athletes. Jeffrey has competed in many sports, notably Volleyball, Squash, Soccer and Golf, and currently trains in Aikido, holding a black belt.
Some of his clients to date include :
Australian Rugby Union
St. Joseph's College
Woodlands Golf Club
Financial Institutions Remuneration Group (FIRG)
Network for Fitness Professionals
North Sydney and Penrith Rugby League Clubs
Qld. Athletics Assn
NSW Netball Assn
Northern Inland Academy of Sport
Victorian Soaring Assn
Orange Agricultural College Equestrian School
Qld and NSW Departments of Sport and Recreation
Qld Academy of Sport
and the RAAF.
For more information, contact :
SPORTSMIND , 77 FLAXTON MILL ROAD
FLAXTON Qld. Australia. 4560.
PHONE 61 7 5445 7994
email : firstname.lastname@example.org
website : www.sportsmind.com.au