Swing Thoughts

What do you think of as you swing the golf club? 

 

Now when I ask golfers this question the answers I get vary enormously. Some players say they think of nothing. Thinking of nothing is great and very achievable when you are relaxed. However when the pressure is on, the same players often find it really difficult to stop thinking about their swing.

Some say they focus on their take away or a certain movement in their swing or a movement of the body or the golf club. Perhaps you use one of the many swing tips available in every magazine you read and every golfer has a tip he will happily pass on to you. If you are using your own swing tip then often it will be a reminder of a part of your swing that your mind tells you is the most likely to let you down. So you focus on something in your swing that you are worried or concerned about.

 

If you do not trust yourself to let go and swing freely, if there is any doubt, too much thinking,  anxiety or any lack of trust in your swing, then there is a loss of focus. Poor focus ruins a golf swing.

 

 For most players, as soon as they hit a few bad shots, they begin to search for a new tip to focus on and so they go around and around in circles looking for the elusive answer to the unsolvable problem. They spend hours on the range “looking for something”. Then they “find something” that works and hang their hopes on it for a while, until inevitably, it breaks down again.

 

 It is like losing your keys in the basement and looking for them upstairs because the light is better.

 

In reality tips don’t work. You do. Your trust in the tip made it work by allowing you to swing with a relaxed and concentrated mind. Your ability to develop this relaxed concentrated state of mind is the most important skill you can develop as a golfer. This master skill underpins peak performance.

 

The reason some golfers play well in practice but can’t do it in tournament play is that they lose their ability to stay relaxed and concentrated in tournament play. Consequently their swing breaks down and so they blame their technique. It is not always technique.

Understanding the relationship between your ability to relax and concentrate and your performance, is what my coaching is all about.

 

Focus on one simple thing. Don’t try hard to perform the move. Observe how much you do it. This subtle difference is vital to good focus and good performance. Contact me for further details on how to apply this knowledge practically.

 

jon@golfisamindgame.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Service in Golf

When we help those that are less fortunate we become a little more selfless and a little less selfish.

 

How can this help your golf I hear you say?

 

By giving you a sense of perspective. Stop dwelling on your problems and realise that there is a much bigger picture out there. Less “poor me” and more “poor you”.

 It also feels good to help others and feeling good is useful for golf and for life.

 

Scientific studies have shown that helping others is one of the easiest ways to bring joy into your own life.

 

A simple way you could align your golf with service to others is by donating an amount of cash to a charity for every par or birdie that you shoot. Or perhaps you could give a percentage of your winnings to a charity. This way your game takes on a greater cause and your success is shared by those less fortunate.

 

Bubba Watson, recent winner of the 2012 Masters, has always aligned his golfing success with charitable contributions as do many of the top sportsmen of our time.He says the winning paychecks help tremendously with funding the causes close to his heart.

“Winning is awesome,” he says. “A pastor friend of mine wanted to start a nondenominational church and I was able to help him out with that when I came into a lot of prize money really quick! It’s an honor to help the organizations I want to be a part of, so coming first in tournaments in January and then May helped me have more money so I can keep helping. Don’t get me wrong, I’m competitive and want to beat everyone but the most important thing is being able to help those in need.”

 

I know these golfers have wealth that is beyond most of us, but the principal remains a good one.

 

Quite often  people who have recently lost a loved one, start playing with a different perspective,  with less concern for the outcome they dedicate their game to the lost person, and often go on to win.

 

You don’t need to suffer a bereavement to change.

 

 

 Aligning your goals with service to others is a great way to change your perspective and give your golf a higher meaning.“Even though you may want to move forward in your life, you may have one foot on the brakes. In order to be free, we must learn how to let go.

 

 

 

 

 Mary Manin Morrisey

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Practice Well

 
If you have a tendency towards perfectionism, then control your mind and stop it obsessing over the “perfect swing”. If you are the sort of golfer who endlessly fiddles with your swing yet fail to produce your best golf when it matters then you may want to re-think your how you practice. You are practicing doubting and thinking about your swing. When you play I would suggest you want to Trust and think less about your swing, so wouldn’t it make sense to practice these skills?

 

How? I hear you say. Well it is possible. My coaching is all about developing Relaxed Concentration as you swing the golf club. This leads to a quiet mind, less thinking. In turn this develops self Trust. You can begin by making a decision to go to the range and hit far fewer balls but hit each one with full focus and concentration. Resist the urge to correct your swing. Trust your body, it knows what to do. You may be surprised at how good your body reacts if you stop doubting it.

It is your mind that needs the work not your body.

 

Here are two questions for you.

  

 

 How do you know when you are really concentrating your mind well?

 

 

 How would you go about improving your concentration?

 

 

 To really develop the levels of relaxed concentration needed to play your best golf when it matters, come for some coaching with me. You deserve it.

 

 

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Westwood’s Woes

 Despite playing beautifully from tee to green, Lee Westwood’s putting seemed to let him down once again when it really mattered. From his interviews it seems that it is not a shortage of effort and practice. He said he will keep going until he finds the “key” to unlock his putting. I must say that to get to the top of the world rankings and have a career like Westwood has done you must be able to putt well. He is a great player. Yet when it really matters to him, particularly the last rounds of the Majors, he is unable to let go and putt to his potential. So what is happening to Lee?

 As I have discussed before, you need two things to putt well.

 Awareness & Equanimity

 Awareness – the ability to focus the mind on one simple thing without judgement, to allow your body to be free to make the putting stroke without instruction from your mind.

  Equanimity – The ability to let go of the outcome, free from fear or craving.

 You need both of these skills in order to putt well. One without the other and you will go around in circles.

 As Westwood played his final round he missed a lot of birdie chances which indicated he was unable to really let go. It is not easy to write about how to let go over a putt, however it is possible to develop the skill through your practice and learn from your own experience. Westwood is not alone. Harrington missed in much the same way. Neither were aware enough to realise that it was their craving for the win that stopped them from winning. Their craving unbalanced their mind and resulted in loss of concentration and poor performance.

 Maybe I can’t help Westy or Padraig, but what about you? Are you playing to your potential when it matters?

“Even though you may want to move forward in your life, you may have one foot on the brakes. In order to be free, we must learn how to let go.”

 Mary Manin Morrissey

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Handling Competion Nerves

     How do you play in competitions? Does your game stay as free as in rounds with your friends? I’m guessing not. Do you ever play poorly in competitions and head straight for the driving range only to find that you are hitting it fine. Or do you hit it fine on the range before a competition and then lose your swing when it matters? Do you then scratch your head and not know where to look for the answers? Well perhaps you should look inside yourself for the answers.

       Whenever the golf your playing matters more than a casual round, you will have some nervous tension, first in your thoughts, then in your body. Thoughts such as “I need to get off to a good start” or “don’t blow it”. You know what I mean. In response to these thoughts, your body gets tense. Maybe not a lot. Maybe it’s so little that you are unaware of it and this leaves you scratching your head wondering why you cannot swing the golf club the same way as you did on the range earlier. So what creates this tension that can ruin your game? Thoughts. Thoughts from your Ego about wanting to look good, not wanting to mess up, keeping out of trouble, not blowing up, not three putting and on and on. There are two types of destructive thoughts. Craving and Aversion.

  When you really want to play well it is easy to forget that you play your best when you are relaxed and prepared to go for your shots and enjoy yourself. When you obsess over the score some of the enjoyment goes.

So how do you break this stranglehold the Ego’s thoughts can have over you? You can try to be as positive as you like, if you are unaware of the tension then it will control your game. So the best way to play to your potential when you notice tension is to pay more attention to it. I would guess that this is the last thing you are inclined to do but ask yourself if trying to ignore it works? It doesn’t.

Pay attention. Pay attention to the tension in your swing or stroke. Be more aware of what you are experiencing. Listen out for the Ego’s worrisome thoughts. Be aware of how you are playing the game.

        Are you being more defensive or tensing up? Maybe just a little bit? If so smile and let go. In order to win you have to be prepared to raise the bar but also you must be prepared to lower the floor. By that I mean that you must be willing to shoot a high score in order for you to shoot a low score. Accept the possibility of playing poorly to enable yourself to be free enough to play well.

   An indication of tension in the body is the breath. Your breath provides you with a gauge of how tense you are. So pay attention to your breathing. I do not advocate trying to breath correctly or deep breathing. This is just one more thing to try to remember. Simply noticing your breath will allow your body to adjust it. Pay attention to your breath and if it is shallow ask yourself what am I worried about? or what am I craving?

           Being more aware of your nerves allows you to notice how they affect you. If you are angry or disappointed at yourself because you feel nervous then you will be much more affected than if you remain aware and non-judgmental. So you experience the nerves and notice how strong they are, what thoughts go with them how your breathing is and so on. The nerves may not disappear, especially if you are in the mix at the end of a tournament, but you can learn to manage them with your awareness.

 “I think the most important thing to realize about playing under pressure is it doesn’t mean you’re going to play badly; the day I realized that, especially with putting, you know, even though you’re shaking over a putt, doesn’t mean you’re going to hit a bad putt. So it’s nice to feel that heat. It’s what we practice for, you want to be in these situations and it’s important to remember that.”

Justin Rose before his  winning last round at the WGC at Doral last weekend.

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