mcdowall“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

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 swing thoughts said it was tempo related. NONE of them said they had ANY technical thoughts about their swing.

Now compare that to the average amateur…

Fixation on swing mechanics is the major reason that we’ve not seen any advancement in average scores since the 1970s. In the Golf State of Mind Coaching, we build strong fundamentals and work on basic swing instruction before developing a player’s visualization, feel and enabling them to trust what they have on any day. What this produces is a free flowing swing without conscious control or “swing thoughts” which is far more effective than a swing based on mechanics and technical instruction.

Just the other night while giving a playing lesson I asked a student what type of shot he was going to hit on a par 3. He told me he was planning to hit a high draw which would involve taking the club back with the club-face slightly closed and keeping his hands high at the top of the back-swing… I interjected immediately and told him that I didn’t care about the physics behind the shot he was going to hit, but instead I want him to visualize it in great detail, feel that shot and then trust his swing to execute it.

Think about it this way…

How can a player hit the ball perfectly during their warm up and then play like a beginner on the first hole?

How does a Tour player play great for several seasons in a row  and then suddenly hit a slump and fall way down the rankings? Swing mechanics? I don’t think so. Thoughts and doubts about swing mechanics? Yes.

When you were playing your best, were you thinking about your swing mechanics?

When a player is scoring well, the swing is free flowing and natural. When they are not, there is a block between the motion control (the mind) and the body, causing those bad shots.

So how to you learn to trust your swing and swing without thinking?

Swinging without thinking is based on 2 things:

1. How you practice

When you practice, you need to be able to spend at least 50% of the time, building trust in what you have, not tinkering with your swing mechanics. The rest of the time you can think about your mechanics, but don’t worry about where the ball goes.

I have my students spend plenty of time learning how to visualize and feel shots and play an imaginary course in their minds. During this, they are practicing swinging without thinking and building trust.

2. Your process

If you’re able to follow a really good sequence, before, during and after every shot, you’ll free yourself from thinking over the ball.

Thinking Phase

This is the only time you actually need to think about a shot or use your golf-brain. As you will have learned from the lessons 2 and 3 (is this right?), during the analysis phase of the routine, you’re identifying the best target and what type of shot you need to hit to get it there (how far it needs to travel and what the shape will look like).

Playing Phase
Once you’ve crossed over an imaginary line (closer to the ball) you’re now in the play box. In the play box, we’re going to hand over your thinking from your left brain, which is analytical and logical, to your right brain, which is creative and artistic.

During this phase of your process you’re marrying feel to that visualization you have for that particular shot. What will happen is this imagery and feel in your subconscious, which works best using imagery not technical instruction. And it’s your subconscious that’s going to play the shot.

By the time you get to hit the shot, you’re “looking and reacting” to the shape of the shot and the target.

In practice, you are allowed to have swing thoughts, it’s how we get better and make the right moves second nature and part of your muscle memory. But the moment you start to use your conscious mind to play a shot on the golf course, that’s when you’ll start trying too hard to control the shot.

Next time you’re on the course, make ZERO swing thoughts your goal and although it will be difficult, mark the number of times they came into your head on your scorecard so you have a goal for next time. I guarantee that the more swing thoughts you remove the better you’ll play.

If you’d like to find out more techniques for freeing yourself of swing thoughts, check out the Golf State of Mind Mental Game Blue-print by clicking below: