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Golf Swing Thoughts Help Develop Consistency
Swing thoughts on the practice range are an unquestioned strategy. They simplify a complex situation. They speed the learning process. And they help develop trust in your swing. How about during a match? Do swing thoughts help there? What are the best swing thoughts to have? While instructors differ on which are the best swing thoughts during a match, they all agree on one thing: Thoughts like “Keep your elbow tucked in,” Finish with your belt buckle facing the target,” or “Keep your head still” only foul up your swing when playing. In fact, many golf tips on swing thoughts reject the whole idea.
It’s not that these thoughts are bad. They’re not. They’re right on target. Entire golf lessons are designed around them. And they’re great in practice.
They keep you focused on what you’re doing. But eliminate them during a match. Why? They focus on swing mechanics and that’s something to avoid when actually swinging a club. Check any golf instruction manual. They will tell you the same thing: You can’t command your body to work in a certain way when hitting the ball. Trying to do so creates more problems than it solves. Instead, focus on your target. That, after all, is your real goal. Forget about where your hands are or where your hips are. Concentrate on where you want the ball to land and link to it creatively and emotionally.
Develop a mental picture of that spot and keep it in mind as you swing. If you must have a swing thought, keep it simple. And non-mechanical. Many PGA pros focus on a single thought, which eliminates thoughts about swing mechanics. Ernie Ells keeps this thought in mind when he swings “Low and slow.” That’s it. He doesn’t think about where his hands are, where his weight is, or where his body is going to end up. That’s for when he’s taking a golf lesson from his swing coach. Instead, he focuses on taking the club back low and slow, eliminating everything else. Fred Shoemaker, author, a pioneer in golf instruction, and founder of the golf school Extraordinary Golf, is adamant about swing thoughts.
Replace thoughts about your mechanics with thoughts about the “feel” of your swing. Think about tempo and rhythm rather than where and when. If you must have a swing thought, says Fred, have one that reinforces the feel of your swing. Fred has his students practice throwing clubs to emphasize this idea. At first, they throw a club 15 feet. Then, they throw one with a slightly fuller swing, about 25 feet or so. After about 200 throws, they throw one with a complete golf swing. Of course, this club throwing is done under strict supervision and safety conditions. Once Fred’s students master club throwing, they move to the tee. The goal there is remembering how it feels to throw a club when you hit a ball.
They focus on that idea and that idea alone. Another approach is to have a thought that triggers something in your swing, thoughts that • Mentally in-plant your target line • Mimics the actual swing • Produces a smooth take away • Triggers the downswing. • Promotes relaxation while swinging Establish a target line for your ball flight before you address the ball. Keep that thought in mind when you hit and try to copy it with your ball flight. That forces you to keep the target line in mind, not your mechanics. Most professional golfers take a few practice swings before they address the ball. They want the feel of the swing before they hit the ball. Recreational golfers ought to do the same. Take a few practice swings.