The ability to separate what you are looking at from what you are thinking about is an essential skill for playing golf. What to focus on before hitting a golf shot is a huge factor in how well it’s executed.
The good news is that your visual and attentional focus are different brain functions. Golfers who struggle with or say they can’t visualize often let their eyes cloud their visualization for golf, especially when fixating on the golf ball in front of them. If you think about the water, bunker or OOB as you stare at the ball you ARE visualizing and you know where the ball often goes as a result! So it’s not an inability to visualize which is the problem but what you visualize!
It’s important to know your ability to learn how and when to focus your attention when hitting golf balls IS NOT predicated by your technical skills but your ability to play your best golf IS predicated by your ability to focus.
What to focus on before a golf shot
Your eyes and attention are not physically bound together within the brain. If you’ve ever read a book and found yourself day dreaming whilst staring at the page, you’ll recognize this separation. Your eyes go quiet and your mind wanders. What you may perceive at the time as your inability to focus on the text in front of you actually leverages EXACTLY the same mental skill you can be using when trying to hit golf balls at a target. If you can day dream you can play golf. The critical difference being that you must direct your day dream to play a golf shot, not leave it to chance, then you will be focusing your attention. This mental skill is NOT a function of the eyes but your BRAIN. Do you like the sound of this technique?
Golf is a challenging game. We have to look away from our target in order to execute a physical action. An Archer, Rifle Shooter, Basketball free-thrower do not. They can focus their eyes and attention on the target. Like Tigers.
Serving a tennis ball, rugby goal kickers and golfers have to look at the ball but maintain their attention on where to send it. Without systematic training in this skill, for this moment of action, golfers unwittingly switch their focus of attention to the ball, club, body, swing, outcome or potential hazards. The target is nowhere to be seen. There is little point visualizing your shot before you step in and play it if you think about something else whilst executing it.
It is not co-incidental that ALL golfers complain of inconsistency but how many take the time to get trained in this essential psychological skill? From our very first golf lessons on grip, alignment, stance and posture our attention is on everything other than the target. It is actually possible to spend a golfing life believing your technique is never good enough. I can’t wish that on any golfer and there is much more to learning how to focus than meets your eye.
So what do you focus on before a golf shot? HOW do you achieve this focus consistently? Maybe, you think the ball is the target or it’s important to be thinking about your swing? Is this working for you? If you don’t have a clear answer to these questions, use this off season productively and take the time to learn how to focus your attention in the right place, at the right time consistently when learning, practicing and playing by taking this introductory, online course:
We can’t offer tips or quick fixes but you will discover why your golf swing isn’t as bad as you believe it to be! When you learn how to lock your conscious mind on Target, you’ll find it can’t interfere with your swing or putting stroke.
To borrow from the powerful words of Martin Luther King — you’ll finally be FREE at last!
Photo by John Halsam