“You turn off your mind. You feel your golf swing without really thinking about it. It’s almost like you don’t think at all. Maybe you have one little thought, and everything else becomes automatic.” – US Open Champion, Graeme McDowell
What do you focus on during your swing on the golf course?
Is it keeping your head down or your left arm straight? Or is it the timing of your wrist cock or making a good turn to the top of the back-swing? Whatever it is, you might want to think about leaving it on the driving range.
Check out this recent survey when 25 PGA Tour players we’re asked about what their favorite swing thought is…
In a recent survey of 24 PGA Tour players, 18 said they didn’t think about anything at all during their swing. Those that did have a swing thought said it was to focus on a spot a few inches in front of the ball, to encourage swinging through, instead of hitting at the ball OR focusing on hitting the inside of the ball.NONE of them said they had ANY technical thoughts about their swing.
So if this is what the best players in the world are doing, should you not do it too? For most of us amateurs, we way too focused on what our bodies are doing which loses our connection with the shot.
Obviously a Tour pro has less reasons worry about mechanics – they work on their games day in and day out and have ingrained solid, repeatable swings. But whether you are a weekend or tournament player, a good golf swing needs to be an aggressive, athletic action, not pieced together by a series of “correct” movements.
Does a Football or Basketball player think about how far and at what angle they take their arm or foot back while taking a shot? No, they don’t.
The desire to control the swing gets stronger, the more errant our shots become. There is a tendency to try and prevent the action that caused the last bad shot during the swing. We’ve all been there and done it. But how did that work out? I’m sure it made things worse, which is proof that trying to fix a swing fault during your round, or even worse during your swing, is very counter-productive.
The only swing thoughts I would recommend are for tempo and ball striking.
When we’re under pressure out there, the first thing to go is tempo – the muscles get tighter and we swing faster. Try making the takeaway (the first 12 inches) as smooth as possible and say “1-2” in your head. “1” to the top of the back-swing, and “2” down through the ball. This will encourage you to slow down the swing and stay more relaxed instead of gripping tightly and swinging fast.
Another would be to focus only on the ball strike. After seeing exactly the shape of the shot you want to hit, focus directly on the back of the ball and swinging through it.
Leave the swing thoughts about the swing itself for the driving range and truly connect with the shot you are about to hit. Become immersed in IT not the action required to produce it. I go into a lot more detail in conscious vs subconscious control of your swing in my Golf State of Mind Mental Game Training System. You have plenty of time to do all your “thinking” during your pre-shot routine by going through good preparation: fundamentals, visualization, and shot selection etc.
Keep your process going quickly and keep seeing the shot until your “go trigger” to tells you it’s time to make a confident, thought-free, aggressive swing at the target.
Why not make having no mechanical swing thoughts your goal for your next round, and really increase your focus on the target and shot shape? Give it a go and let me know how you get on.
Photo by John Trainor