I believe the single most prevalent reason for poor strokes and loss of power (beside poor mechanics in the power areas of the swing) is we over tighten and use more muscles than needed to perform the task. The fine line between physical tension and emotional charge is what I call the state of Relaxed Intensity. You are relaxed enough and intense enough to be at peak effectiveness.
Have you ever found yourself tense over a golf shot standing at the tee box, over a short putt or on a short chip shot? Tension levels vary for each of us and they also vary from one situation to another on the golf course. Tension is a very individual matter affecting us at different times. However, when we are too tense in our physical body it will affect our golf swing. Tension is a swing killer.
Dr. Jim Suttie, a Golf Magazine Top 100 teacher and frequent guest on The Golf Channel once said to me the biggest obstacle I have is getting students to relax during a lesson. If I could change that; theyd get better faster. His concern is shared by many PGA pros Ive spoken to who agree that student tension levels interfere with the learning curve.
As a former Director of Mental Toughness as the National Tennis Center in New York, we used to observe athletes as they hit balls in warm-up and in match play. In those players who didnt perform their best, we found that their tension levels were higher than those who did perform their best. You could see the difference in foot- work, preparation and fluidity of the swing. In golf, it is very much the same. Observing a golfer at the range and then observing them on the course, we can find a marked difference in their tension levels and in the power and fluidity of their golf swing.
Think of your body as a finely tuned high performance engine. This engine uses the finest parts and when it runs its best; it is smooth and powerful. What happens when there is blockage in the system? No matter how great its parts, It loses power and its timing is thrown off. You operate the same way. Energy flows through your body when it is relaxed and open. When this happens you experience increased power and rhythm. When there is blockage however, over tight muscles cause you to lose power, rhythm. and throw off the timing of your golf swing.
TRIGGERING RELAXED INTENSITY
Your best golf swing will tend to show up when you learn how to reduce or remove over-tension from your swing. This happens because reducing tension allows you to get out of your own way, creating the space for your swing to be more fluid, more powerful and more rhythmical. There will always be a certain amount of tension needed but any additional tension will interfere with your natural power, fluidity and rhythm.
Here are some steps to help you achieve the state of Relaxed Intensity:
Most of us will tighten up without realizing were doing it. Our tension levels are often an unconscious response out of habit. Many golfers Ive worked with are not aware of their tension levels or have become so used to their normal tension they dont believe they are over tense at all. When you experience more reduced tension in any area then you will have a reference point to work from
The 8 Major Check Points
When you do check in, monitor these common tense points in the body. They are: feet (yesthe feet. This is a common area of tension often unnoticed), legs, abdomen / hips, arms, hands / fingers, shoulders, jaw, eyes / forehead.
Relax your eyelids and allow them to fall comfortably in place. Tense eyelids usually mean tension around the face area. When the eyes are tense they tend to narrow causing unnecessary tension both in the facial muscles and mental tension as well
Breathe Your Way To Relaxed Intensity
The best way to reduce muscle tension in the body is to BREATHE. Think of your muscles as a band of fibers. When they are tight; they choke off the flow of energy, blood and oxygen. When they are loose these fibers rest in a more natural way creating increased energy and blood flow. This, in turn, creates more power and fluidity in the golf swing.
If you practice becoming aware of and then reducing your tension levels you can trigger the state of Relaxed Intensity in your golf swing. When you do, it feels great! Good Luck!
Copyright 2004 David Breslow. David is the author of Wired To Win and offers a highly acclaimed Perform In The FlowZone' program for sports and business. David has appeared on The Golf Channel, ESPN radio, etc. For more programs/services/products or sign up for a free newsletter (write newsletter in subject box). Also, review the new series of Performance Training Manuals available online! Contact: David Breslow at 847.681.1698 Email: David@theflowzone.net or visit the web: www.theflowzone.net For book orders call toll free: 1.888.280.7715