Food For Thought...
Does your golf ever feel like it does when you drive your car with the handbrake pulled on? Lacking flow? Are you always striving to "control"? Consider the following.
We learn to walk BEFORE we learn to talk.
This is a very good thing. Imagine what it would be like learning how to walk by following verbal instructions and then consciously attempting to carry out the physical movements. Would it help or hinder if you required conscious thought to develop the neurological motor patterns for walking and running? Clearly the latter.
Without spoken language as infants you rely purely on awareness. You have no choice. You can't analyze, strategize or debate at this time. You use your senses to process the world around you. You learn to crawl, walk and run free from interference. You develop many motor patterns trusted for life , all non-consciously. Then you learn to talk and think and this is where for many they start to pull the handbrake on. You attempt to develop new motor skills consciously.
What's the problem with learning motor skills consciously?
As soon as you involve your "thinking" brain in the development of any new motor skills, you throw a cloak over your powerful non-conscious mind. You forlornly attempt to achieve similar levels of performance using your slow conscious mind, which your non-conscious mind has frequently demonstrated. The pre-frontal cortex offers benefits but helping you acquire TRUSTED motor skills is NOT one of them.
This is important to understand.
The sooner you STOP using the pre-frontal cortex and striving to control your physical actions, the sooner you can leverage the vast resources of the non-conscious mind.
When we repeat any physical movement we enhance the connection between brain neurons responsible for that movement. The more we repeat, the stronger the memory is created REGARDLESS of whether it is the correct motor movement. We often take lessons to help identify the correct physical positions so what prevents a motor pattern from being PERFORMED successfully whilst it is being developed? Conscious attempts to control physical movements i.e destructive swing thoughts.
These typically occur when we consciously learn any new motor skill but through repetition we usually STOP the conscious interference. When? When our attentional focus shifts AWAY from the physical actions we are carrying out, be it riding a bike, driving a car, typing, playing an instrument etc. Unfortunately, this critical attention shift does NOT happen in golf due to how you are being coached, practice and play. PERSISTENT CONSCIOUS CONTROL KILLS FLOW. Herein lies inconsistent performance.
How you can play without swing thoughts if you only practice with them?
The golf motion is just 1 of many physical life tasks so when do you learn to trust it? Well, how can you do this in golf where we typically spend our lives being taught how to swing and practice consciously? You need to understand how to keep your conscious mind out of the physical movement process when learning. Target Oriented Golf is essential for all standards of golfers.
Golfers spend their lives attempting to improve their skills using CONSCIOUS efforts to control their physical actions in practice. Under the "perceived" pressure of competition this dominant mentality in practice comes to the fore, this typically destroying physical flow in their actions and the ability to focus their attention appropriately. Clearly the swing can't "go off" over a round of golf - the brain simply can't alter it's neurological structures so quickly. That's not how your brain functions.
So WHAT changes between your range practice to the heat of competition?
There are many sports where some arousal and adrenaline heighten the athletes ability to perform and triggers the 'flight or fight' response in a positive way. However, there are many sports which require a single pointed concentration like golf, tennis serve, archery, shooting, goal kicking where losing control of your attentional focus leaves you in the wrong physical and emotional state to enable physical and mental flow to occur. Your thoughts destroy flow, then your actions.
So if you don't learn how to prepare for a 'worse case' scenario in your practice before it occurs in competition, it's no surprise that golfers 'choke' . Their physical skills don't suddenly desert them but their lack of control over what they are choosing to attend to does. Their perception of the task changes, not the task itself. When you manage your perception of a situation, pressure no longer exists. How can it? It is nothing other than a figment of your out of control attentional focus. Pressure is perception.
What are the most significant benefits of learning Target Oriented Golf?
Understanding how to keep your conscious mind focused and occupied with where you wish to send your ball (the task) as you look down at your ball, enables your non-conscious mind to perform the physical movement. You experience what if feels like to play golf FREE of swing thoughts, just like you perform every other life task successfully today. You experience what it feels like to really take the handbrake off.
Why wouldn't you want to play golf this way too?
Today, the technical and mental aspects of golf are typically trained independent of each other. This demarcation of roles between golf coach and psychologist creates a void. In reality, they must be developed concurrently or you end up attempting to build a wall with no mortar between the bricks. Your golf game never feels stable.
Introductory online course can be viewed on your PC or tablet and available here:
HOW to Focus For Golf - Discover the Psychology of Aiming