Have you ever hit a perfect shot? Can you recall what you were thinking?
Whenever I pose these questions during a seminar, very few of the participants can recall the actual thought process prior to the shot. Most of them, however, can describe how the shot felt in one word:effortless.
No thoughts of proper technique or potential disaster – just a feeling. The secret to re-creating those shots consistently, is discovering the recipe to quickly re-create that effortless feeling.
How you feel at any given moment, is determined by where you place your attention. Would you agree that your swing is a by-product of how you feel?
Does continuously focusing on mistakes make you feel good, or does it ingrain the feeling (perhaps unconsciously) that you’re not good enough to forget them?
Why do you take lessons?
The obvious answer is to learn your mistakes. While blatant technical flaws must be corrected, dwelling on them incessantly is a seductive trap, that leads us to believe that (mentally) replaying them is the key to improvement. It’s a vicious circle.
How do you react to a poor shot?
Most devout golfers automatically search for the culpable technical flaw. Your ability to quickly interrupt this tendency, and shift your attention to the feeling of a perfect shot, is the most neglected aspect of traditional instruction.
We are led to believe that perfect shots are the result of a perfect swing. How would you define a perfect swing? By placing your attention exclusively on the desired result, you allow your body to re-create the best swing you’re capable of.
Easy to say, but how do you practice the art of controlling attention?
Practice shifting your attention from perfecting technique, to recovering from poor shots. During your next visit to the driving range, set aside twelve balls. Whenever you hit three perfect shots, take one of these balls and deliberately hit the shot that you fear the most. It could be a cold top, a slice, or even the dreaded s___k. Immediately after you hit the shot, start to focus on recapturing the feeling of a perfect shot.
Am I asking you to practice poor shots? Absolutely! It’s easy to dismiss a poor shot on the range, since there is always one more ball. How often has one shot led to a downward spiral and spoiled an otherwise decent round? The value of any particular shot is based on the amount of attention you devote to it. When you understand how to deliberately hit a poor shot, then you can quickly adjust and re-focus.
You may not have the physical dexterity to regularly hit three-hundred yard drives, but any golfer can develop the “mental toughness” to play beyond their skill level.
The Power of Attention