Let your mind go through the Four Stages of Learning as they apply to the golf swing
Many golfers spend time practicing but never seem to have enough confidence to let the body or system instead of the brain swing the club. Thus, they are left with two swings; the range swing and the course swing which are quite different. One is relaxed and free, the other tense, jerky and off balance not to mention inconsistent. The goal of practice is to develop a golf swing you have confidence in. One that is repeatable and automatic. I submit the golf swing, itself, is a ‘systematic’ not a ‘mental’ process.
What to do
Next time you are practicing, let your mind go through the Four Stages of Learning as they apply to the golf swing. Consciously remind yourself of those stages while you practice instead of ‘thinking’ while you swing. You will find that you ‘feel’ the different swing positions after the swing is completed. You do not have to ‘think’ about it while it is ‘happening’.
Also, you might use Stage 4 during your pre-swing routine, on course, as a way of reminding yourself to keep you mind out of your golf swing. You might find by giving your mind something other than the swing to focus on, your swing becomes much freer and more fluid.
Here are the Four Stages of Learning applied to the golf swing
Unconscious Incompetence is when you don’t know what you don’t know. The swing looks simpler than it is. You are not capable of effectively swinging the club, you just don’t know it.
Conscious Incompetence is when you consciously realize that you don’t know how to swing the club, as you find it harder than it looks.
Conscious Competence is where you work on your swing, piece by piece, on the range, building your golf swing.
Unconscious Competence is when you have developed a swing motion that works for you. You let your ‘system’ swing the club, not your brain.
Another way to distract the conscious mind is to use a walkman or some such device. Put on some easy listening music while you practice. Or, if you can get on to a golf course when the play is light, put on the headset and you may find your golf swing becomes relaxed and fluid. It is because you are practicing Unconscious Competence.
When you are practicing, use what is called the Color Drill. This, again, will take your brain out of the swing motion process.
Your goal during this drill is to verbalize one of your favorite colors at the top of the back swing and another at impact. In other words, as you approach the top of your backswing, say the word: Blue. As you reach impact, 'Yellow', or whatever your favorite colors are.
Sounds dumb right? Well, give it a try and you just might be suprised at how smooth your swing becomes. It is because your brain is 'otherwise occupied' and out of the golf swing.
Remember and give some thought to the Four Stages of Learning Golf Swing next time you head to the range to practice or course to play. It just might make a huge difference.
About the author:
Steve Riggs is a retired golf teaching professional of over 30 years working with countless clients in the U.S. and the Caribbean. Now retired, Steve is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and regular contriubtor to Par Excellence Magazine, New England Golf Monthly magazine and mynegm.com. Steve is the host/producer of a weekly Radio/Internet golf program, THE myNEGM LESSON TEE which airs Wednesdays 10:05-11am ET. Listen live at WNRI 1380 AM radio or online at: mynegm.com and www.wnri.com . The show is followed around the country and Canada in it's second year on air.
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