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Are you playing golf or swinging golf clubs?

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!

Colin.

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The Evolution of Golf Instruction

By Colin Cromack

Allow me to introduce you to 3 distinct PSYCHOLOGICAL phases golfers should be SYSTEMATICALLY coached through in order to play and perform consistently.

Phase 1. Internal Focus – this is your traditional technical instruction where your Attentional Focus is typically on the conscious control of your body movement. Unfortunately, this is where the vast majority of golfers worldwide begin and end their golfing lives due to the lack of attentional focus training of coach and player (Examples: The Golf Machine, Stack and Tilt, The Plane Truth etc. and a variety of other technical teaching models explaining how to SWING golf clubs efficiently).

Phase 2. Proximal External Focus – self awareness development where your focus is shifted away from body on to club head movement, ball flight or similar. The minority of golfers who discover this phase recognise how it can develop a trust in their technique faster than Phase 1 only learning (Examples: Instinctive Golf, Inner Game of Golf, Extraordinary Golf etc.)

Phase 3. External Focus – Attentional Focus golf instruction where your focus is moved entirely AWAY from your technique in practice and play and on to the Target. This is where performance lives with ALL other life skills. External focus. From riding bicycles to driving cars, playing music and typing on keyboards. This golf skill has NEVER been coached systematically in practice. Welcome to Target Orientation.

We actually transition to the 3rd stage AUTOMATICALLY with all other life skills we master. It does not happen in golf due to the way we are uniquely taught and practice the game. The most significant element of understanding the above coaching model is this. You develop the ability to practice on the range in 2 very distinctive modes: Training (internal/proximal) for developing technical skills and Trusting (external) when practicing how to play golf. Ultimately, Trusting needs to become your dominant behaviour on the range in order for you to trust your technical skills under perceived tournament "pressure". This perception is for another discussion.

If you think it sounds difficult, go and throw a ball at a Target and simply notice where your focus is and anxiety level. You are physically free, in the present, visually operating with a quiet mind. This is the ultimate Golf State of Mind! Notice how the Target gives you your COMMITMENT. Take it away physically or mentally and notice what happens. The internal self talk and the self doubt begins. No Target in mind as you execute a golf shot results in little commitment in your physical actions when driving, chipping or putting. Does this feel familiar to anyone?

IF you have ever wondered why you can trust your subconscious self to drive a car where your life is at risk but struggle to trust it to putt a golf ball, my work will be of interest. If you wish to understand this learning curve concept better, a sample chapter of my DVD can also be found here: http://www.targetorientedgolf.com/sampler.htm

Attentional Focus Coaching of most value to Professional and low handicap golfers but if you are a relative beginner, the sooner you become aware of these skills the faster you will develop technical proficiency. It is always important to understand where you are heading before you set off on any journey or you may, like many have done, wander down many country roads looking for the 'perfect' swing for what you thought was the answer to your poor golf performance and you will never arrive at your intended destination. Hopefully, the joy of playing anxiety free consistent golf.

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!

Colin.

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What were you thinking?

By Colin Cromack

As a golf coach, do you often wonder what your client is thinking about when struggling with a golf lesson? As a player, how often have you asked yourself the same question after playing another poor shot! Your conscious thought processes in the SECONDS before, during and after execution frequently undermines your ability to perform both in practice and on course. So who's driving the bus here? You or someone else? Is there nothing you can do to take control? What IS the focus of your attention whilst you are executing a golf shot and HOW do you control it consistently? Where would you like it to be? Swing, body, club head, ball, out of bounds, water, trees, bunker, birdie, outcome or heaven forbid......the Target!

Attentional Focus examines the relationship between your thinking, vision, auditory and other senses. Whilst awake we are always attending to something in our conscious mind and our attentional focus is analogous to the lens of a film projector. The film running through it, usually at an extremely high speed, comprises of information from your external senses and internal thoughts, both conscious and unconscious. Many can spend their lives feeling like 'observers' of this film being projected rather than understanding how to take active control over what is being projected and become, instead, the director of their movie and their reality, both on and off the golf course.

Whether playing a musical instrument, driving a car, riding a bike or making a sandwich physical flow exists when we allow our sub-conscious mind to manage our physical actions. Flow exists in ALL life tasks when we remove the conscious mind from any attempt to control our physical actions. So what is the conscious mind doing whilst we perform those tasks? It can be anywhere in time and place. We don't need to control our attention to carry out those tasks as we rely on procedural memories which were practiced, mastered and put safely into storage for recall when needed.

Just imagine if you could build similar procedural memories you could call upon for your golf swing and putting stroke without doubting your ability to carry out the task? This is just one benefit of learning Target Oriented Golf. The primary psychological difference when playing golf, or any other target oriented activity where we need to acquire a Single Pointed Concentration, is we also need to control that which we consciously attend to for it critically influences our ability to perform the task consistently and accurately. If you are not thinking about Target as you execute a shot for example, what are you CHOOSING to think about and why? If you could look at the Target where would you focus your mind?

What makes golf such a challenge psychologically is we have to look away from our intended target just prior to execution. This is where the problems begin for the vast majority of golfers for they remove their eyes AND attention from Target. Clearly, at the MOMENT of execution we wish to experience physical Flow with no conscious control of our actions but how can this be achieved if the golfer is now looking at the ball and thinking about HOW to control the club? It clearly can not. Yet many Professional golfers still strive for elusive performance whilst insisting on having a swing thought! So what chance the amateur? The elite do attempt to overcome this lack of attentional focus awareness and will do the best with the skills they have. They have a LOT of time. 'Grinding' salves the conscience but it can also kill performance.

In golf, just as in any sport where an athlete has time to 'think' before they execute, what happens at execution is significantly influenced by what an athlete CHOOSES to think about PRIOR to this moment. This is often where a golfer is told to stop 'strategizing' (think box/play box) but it does not also mean that significant tasks such as state management, physical alignment and attentional focus do not require deliberate conscious attention during this period of preparation time. Some coaches and psychologists advocate 'thinking less'. This is impossible and simply creates a void in which erroneous thought floods. You will then be 'out of control' at that moment in time rather than 'in control' of your process. It's not enough to advocate just a think box/play box strategy. You need a think box/focus box.

Unfortunately, for many golfers, performance does not manifest itself regularly due to erroneous 'thinking' about how to control their physical actions at execution with a conscious 'swing thought' due to the endemic nature of the way the game is taught and practiced. When will you ever trust in competition that which you constantly strive to control in practice? If the swing is not the focus of the golfers' conscious mind when playing on course, it will often be replaced with some outcome oriented event like score, water, don't hit it left etc hence the "advice" being offered to "not think" as you prepare to execute may sound like a better alternative for some than thinking. Too much thinking is not the problem however. It is simply erroneous thinking which lies at the heart of poor golf performances.

If you struggle with the game of golf, irrespective of how much you 'grind', it may be time for you to switch focus from your technique and begin to understand HOW to trust it. When you begin to understand the relationship between vision, thought and action you begin to give up control of your body and gain real control of your mind.

Target Oriented Golf is a comprehensive alternative remote GOLF COACHING program brought to you with the support of Sportsmind. When you are ready to receive, we are ready to help with remote video coaching services wherever you may be in the world. Please visit www.TargetOrientedGolf.com for details.

Until next time, enjoy your golf!

Colin.

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What Clients Like About Sportsmind & Jeffrey Hodges

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