Can you remember when you were first learning to tie shoe laces? You had to think about it and try to actively control your fingers, hand, wrist and arm movements to get those pesky strings wound up and twisted in the correct fashion.
Let me ask you a question based on that memory. When you were first learning, was it an efficient, free-flowing movement which produced precise and repetitive results?
Now that you have learned how to do it automatically, your unconscious mind takes over the task and does it all for you.
All movement of new functions we desire to learn as human beings we are attempting to learn to the unconscious level. Either we keep on trying until they are instinctive, unconscious moves, or we give up and accept that we are not cut out to perform that particular task (which is mostly untrue!). Golf moves are no different to any other move. It needs to be learned to the unconscious and then left alone to perform.
What this means is that when you are trying to learn the new move to the unconscious, it is going to be very rough and inefficient, producing many mistakes. So let me now ask you if you can score better when you are trying to master a new move?
Have you ever had a lesson and then gone onto the course with all those swing thoughts in your head and had a complete disaster on your card?
Now think back to a time when you played your best. A time when everything seemed simple, and you felt happy and confident around the course, a time when you were not concerned about the movements your body made and had the confidence to allow your mind to get the ball going where it needed to go.
Most golfers I know would like to improve, but they would also like to be playing well while doing it. Knowing that swing mechanics and scoring don’t mix is the only way you can get consistently close to improving while still scoring and keep doing this on an ongoing basis. You must know when it is time to work your mechanics and when it is time to give up those thoughts and to hand over control of your body/swing to your unconscious mind (the part that does things automatically for you). Sometimes, you should just have fun playing golf, one shot at a time and fully in the present moment of each shot.
Make a conscious decision on the first tee whether you are going to score or practice and think about your swing mechanics while playing. If you decide to practice and allow swing thoughts, then throw the score card away and do not judge yourself by that round, because it’s not fair to judge your performance when you are actively choosing to “handicap” yourself.
If you decide to score, then work on focus for every shot, pre-shot routine, course management, self-management, staying in the present and playing one shot at a time. Feedback results of poor shots to yourself in a matter-of-fact fashion without self-criticism and sincerely enjoy and congratulate yourself on good shots.
Above all, have fun on your journey to improvement. You are never going to crack this game, so you must enjoy its challenges.
Wishing you FIR’s, GIR’s & Blue Skies.
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