Saturday, September 22, 2012
Where are you on this spectrum? Do you hit and hope or are you in a trusting mindset? Are you trying too hard because you really need the putt or are you working on how to make the putt as you are putting it? When golfers have great days on the course, they often call their mindset The Zone. If you want to putt in The Zone, you must recognize your mindset as you are playing and commit to the proper mindset. That mindset is the one at the far right side of the spectrum, the "see it, feel it, trust it, roll it" mindset.
If you aren't confident or have a tough time committing to a line or speed, you will have a tough time with all facets of the far right mindset. We all know that there are times when we need to make a putt. We can feel momentum slipping away from us on a hole or during a round. Even though we recognize those times, we must set it aside and putt with a trusting mindset, not a pressing mindset. Wanting often leads to trying. Trying often leads to tension. Tension leads to a lack of feel for speed. When players try too hard to make a putt, they often face a long putt coming back. Are you thinking mechanics? If so, you are probably not doing any part of the far right mindset well. Mechanics seem to overtake all thoughts and will produce good putts at times, but will also whittle away at your trust as the day goes on. As you move to the right, you get to the place where you are putting a good roll on the ball. This is close to the right mindset. However, if you have this thought, you are still a bit too cerebral and not allowing your eyes to simply see it, your brain to commit to it and your heart to trust it. The Zone is when all three of your intelligence centers line up to allow you to be your best self.
Here is Brittany Lang talking about her visualization on the golf course.
How can you putt from The Zone 100% of the time? The first step is practice. There are times when you need to practice mechanics and there are times to focus on putting a good roll on the ball. Both of these things need to be planned and executed during specific times at practice. When you move on from these tasks, make sure to spend some time in The Zone. Your routine should include a look when you see or visualize what the putt will do. As you do this, you will improve to the point where you can see the ball roll along the green in real time. If this is tough at first, choose your favorite color and have the ball roll down a ribbon of that color. You can also see things like a highway, a railroad track or a yellow brick road. In other words, allow your imagination to work in order to help your visualization. Once you "see" the putt, take a practice stroke and feel it. It is easy to mess this step up, too. Lots of people use this to think about mechanics instead of putting themselves in the actual position they will be in when they putt. NO! This is the time to feel, not to think.
How do you trust it? Well, you have to pay attention to what is going on in your mind. If you see it, feel it and then have a thought such as, "this is going to break more than that" when you step up to the ball, you are not in the trusting mindset. Step off, re read the putt and start over. This lack of trust might be a lack of commitment or it could be a misread. If you continuously step off the ball, you need to learn to commit. Stepping off is a great tool when you recognize you aren't in the trusting mindset. However, if it is overused, it signals a problem with commitment. A trusting mindset is a clear mind that allows the stroke to mimic what you saw and felt. It is a mind free of interference from distraction, either internal or external. It is a simple approach to your task at hand.
Roll it! Did you let it go? Were you free of tension? Did it feel like you weren't even conscious of your movements? This is the final step to a free mindset. There is a stillness in the mind that allows you to be still until the putt is well on its way. Great putters look quiet over the ball and after the stroke mainly because their mindset is right!
Here are a bunch of winning putts to watch. See if you can tell if these pros are in the right mindset.
Stenson, Tiger, Fowler, Delasin
Friday, September 21, 2012
My golf teams spend some time every morning prior to play tossing a football around. We listen to some fun music, laugh a little, get warm and loose and have some fun as a team. Why? We do it to start our day with a loose mindset. We want to be free to play. That is one of our touchstones as a team. If we play with freedom, we play our best. The football reminds us to have some fun and laugh a little. We are so bad at throwing the football, we can easily laugh at ourselves, so that is a great lesson to take into the day.
Check out this video of the talented hurdler from Australia, Michelle Jenneke.
I LOVE this video. She is loose, she is smiling and she is appreciative of the fans. Those are emotions that will help her run a great race. Her mindset for competition is to be loose.
At SMU, we know we have worked hard all week to prepare to play well. When we get to the tournament, we prepare on the practice round day by learning the course and the greens. Then, on tournament day, we let it all go! We PLAY! The football reminds us to do just that, play. We start our day with play, smiles and laughter as a team and we take that mindset out to the golf course.
|Liz Wells with the 2011-12 football in San Antonio.|
Thursday, September 6, 2012
- Play around the world from 5, 6 and 10 feet. Put tees in 6 spots around the hole. Go around and back. To win you must make 12 in a row. You get one second chance at 6 feet and two second chances at 10 feet. You may do this challenge only once per day! Make it count. Write down your score in your journal.
- Make 8 in a row from 3 feet, 7 in a row from 4 feet, 5 in a row from 5 feet, 3 in a row from 6 feet and 2 in a row from 10 feet. This is 25 putts in a row. You get up to three chances per day to make 25 in a row. How did you do? Thought for the Challenge -Repetition doesn't equal mindlessness. Instead, it should present you with an opportunity to focus and gain confidence through repeated success.
- There will be a string around the hole. Put 4 tees in the ground from four distances each day and putt 3 balls. Your goal is to get at least 2 of 3 in the donut hole! The distances can be anything from 20 feet to 50 feet! Great putters are great at controlling their speed!
- Make 10 putts in a row from 3 feet using your sand wedge as a putter. Hit the ball with the leading edge of the club in the equator of the ball. This drill will help both your concentration and the steadiness of your head and body as you putt. When you are great from 3 feet, move farther from the hole. Thought for the Challenge - Is your stroke level at impact? This challenge will answer that question!
Note: This practice took about 90 minutes to complete. We had one person on a team putting at one time. We want to have a person standing alone and having pressure from her teammates to make the putt. We had a good discussion of the punch shots following the practice. Here was what we talked about: Our team adage is, always have a putt for par. The young players tended to look at the pin when they were in trouble. The fact that they were measuring the shot put pressure on them to go at the pin. This is much the same as they feel on the course. A few of the older players played to different areas of the greens and got themselves a putt for par and were closer to the pin as a result. Also, we talked about seeing the shot from beginning to end. The first obstacle is the most important. If you don't clear it, you will face it again. What is it hiding? That is the second obstacle. The final thing we talked about is distance control. If you are great at clearing your obstacles because you can control trajectory, can you also control your distance? We came up with a clear plan:
Goal: Have a putt for par if possible.
2. Control trajectory
3. Control distance
If you are playing away from the hole, don't be greedy! Give yourself a cushion.
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
|Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post - Buck Showalter’s Baltimore Orioles have ignored the critics and remain a legitimate contender for the playoffs as the season enters its final month.|
His quote reminded me of advice I used to receive from Dick Harmon. He often tipped me off to great players he met overseas. He would tell me about their talents and then he would add, "If you get her, don't screw her up."
Lots of people would be offended by that remark and I will admit, the first time I heard it, it scared me. Then I started to figure out what he meant. Your role as a coach isn't to control your players. It isn't to change your players. It isn't to make all of your players the same. Your role as a coach is to bring out the very best in your players. If a kid does things differently than her teammates or than anyone you have coached before, that doesn't make it wrong. It makes her different and different is okay.
I loved hearing Buck Showalter say it out loud that his job was to not screw these guys up. We have a bit of momentum going into our first event of the year. I like each player's focus and what they have identified as a need to help them compete at their best. Our job as coaches is to not screw it up! Here we go!
Sunday, September 2, 2012
The more common question I hear from players is, how do I make the perfect swing?
How about if instead of chasing a perfect swing, you chase a swing that allows you to shape shots and control your trajectory? How would your practice change? You would probably begin to think more about what the ball is doing instead of what your body is doing. I spent a lot of hours listening to Dick Harmon talk about golf and the golf swing. He would watch a pre-shot routine and be either intrigued or dismissive of the player. What caused his reactions? He liked watching players with long target looks, quiet bodies, soft hands and arms and a little rhythm in their pre-shot. A player with short target looks, who was twitchy and concerned about how his body was situated caused Dick to look away. He would tell me that the player would never be successful thinking so much about himself and so little about the target. He grew up around the best players in the world and spent as much time observing greatness as anyone around the game. He understood the difference between outward focus and inward focus. An outward focused player plays the course. He takes in the conditions, the slopes, the grass, the wind. An inward focused player plays his swing. He gets lost in hitting good shots and blames poor scoring days on poor ball striking.
Your golf swing needs certain things. It needs to be reliable and better yet, reliable under pressure. In other words, you need to know that the ball will go where you aim and the proper distance. It would be nice if your swing provided you with power, but there have been many great players who were comparably short, yet quite successful. It is important to develop a swing that allows you to control your trajectory and distance. The other factor that needs to be controlled is spin. Can you put spin on the ball? Can you predict the amount of spin? Can you hit a ball without spin? These are questions that will lead you to score well.
Video 1 and Video 2
Jeff has a +2 handicap and plays with a lot of power. I'm not sure if you noticed, but he doesn't put his hands on the club in the conventional way. I watched him hit a lot of balls and I loved his ball flight. I asked him how long he had played and he told me he started at age 2 and this was how he picked up the club and hit the ball. When he was 10, he had some lessons and they tried to change his grip, but he couldn't hit with power, so he quit taking lessons and stuck to what he knew. He also told me that his most important focus is his tempo.
The reason I showed my team these videos is because I wanted them to understand that it is okay to be different. It's okay to be unconventional. It's okay to be yourself. So many young players spend most of their time trying to be perfect or trying to fit a mold set up by someone else. This is time poorly spent. Most young players need to spend time learning to score. They need to figure out how to hit bunker shots from crummy lies or how to flight a ball under a tree branch. They need to become experts in hitting shots that are low and release or high and check. There is a lot to learn in golf if you want to be great, but spending all of your time working on a perfect swing won't help you as much as you think it will.
Instead, work on trusting what you do and understanding what makes you tick. Jeff Wolff told me his key was tempo. What key do you have on the first tee to focus on during your round? When you play, can you control trajectory, control distance, shape shots or take a little off a full shot? Now, perfectionists will inevitably say that all of that will come if my swing is perfect, but they are wrong. The tours are full of great swingers who don't score well and there are plenty of unique swings that earn big checks.
Learn a swing, commit to it, figure out how to hit it where you want to, then figure out how to change the trajectory of the shot, then figure out how to shape your shots, then figure out how to do it all under pressure. Then and only then will you be a great player!