If you've read a lot -- or even a little -- about the psychology of sports performance, then you've probably heard of "visualization."
The idea is that you rehearse in your mind what you want to do and then by continuing to imagine yourself doing it, you connect your brain and your intentions to your body and your sports performance. Even when you're away from the course or practice range, you're still able to work on your game by creating the "feel" that you want to have when you swing a club. It's a powerful tool that's worked for a lot of players. There's only one problem: what if your "feel" is wrong?
Most golfers have studied the swings of the pros and have tried to emulate them as best as they can.
You see the best players playing the back nine on a Sunday afternoon and see a relaxed, yet confident swing that looks almost effortless. Somehow, though, that "effortless" swing drives the ball long and straight and right down the fairway ever time. Mentally, you try to visualize your swing being that smooth and effortless. You feel the way your weight has to shift, how your shoulders have to turn, how your hips have to fire, and everything else you've been told or have read. But despite all of this mental imaging, your swing on the course feels no more smooth or effortless. Most of the time this is because you may not be as connected as you might think to your own body.
It's not just the casual player that can have this disconnect.
I see it a lot -- even with the pros. In the hitting bays at the Joey D Golf Sports Training Center in Jupiter, Florida, we have some pretty cool toys that let us measure all sorts of things from weight distribution to clubhead speed at impact -- and everything in between. It's not all that uncommon to see players that play the game professionally misreading their "feel." For example, they might know that during their takeaway they need to load about 60-percent of their weight into their right heel, but when we actually look at where their weight is, 90-percent may still be in the ball of their left foot. If the pros can be this off, it's not all that surprising that what you may "feel" to be perfect form isn't all that perfect.
So, what do you do?
Thankfully, you live in the 21st century and just about all of us carry around something that'll let you see how real your "feel" is. The next time you play, have a buddy shoot a video of you with your phone. It can be a humbling experience when you actually get to see your own swing, but it's an invaluable tool to help you begin to understand and develop a sense of "feel."
Make sure to get video of golf shots throughout the round.
You might see that you get a little more shoulder rotation and hip movement starting around the fourth or fifth hole, which lets you know that you need to do some mobility work before you play so that you can be in mid-round form from the first tee. You might also see that your posture worsens by the end of the round, which lets you know that you need to be doing some extra posture-specific strengthening work.
Ultimately, though, you'll get to see what your actual swing really looks like…and that's blue print from which you can start to think about how you want your swing not only to look -- but also to feel. At its highest level, golf is about being able to replicate the perfect swing time and time again in whatever situation you're faced with. By understanding what your golf swing truly looks like, you'll be better able to get a true "feel" for how to create that replicable swing, improve your game, and have more fun.
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