The Analytical Mind Friend or Foe


Golf is a thinking mans game. This is how many people view the game of golf and certainly the game of golf involves using your analytical mind to your advantage. The majority of golfers who contact me describe themselves as over analyzers on the golf course. They say that they have difficulty quieting their minds and shutting it off from the mental noise and constant chatter.
I use an old saying that goes, when we over use a strength, it becomes a liability.' The ability to use the mind in a sharp, clear and analytical way is definitely a terrific trait one that positively affects your game. With it, you are able to identify whats most important for any shot and make good decisions on shot and club selection. It also allows you to quickly analyze your swing or performance and make adjustments as necessary.
However, when this strength is over-used it becomes a liability as the analytical mind begins to interfere with the golf swing by running on while were actually in the address position and even throughout the golf swing. The over analytical mind can be very busy trying to figure everything out as well. This leads to a string of ongoing questions such as, did I take the club back properly?, Why did the ball do that?, Was my elbow in the proper position?, How can do this better next time and on and on. The over analytical golfer becomes so tied up in their heads that the golf swing becomes paralyzed. This is where the expression paralysis by analysis comes from.
It is important to remember that the mind, body and emotions are connected and they are always in constant communication with each other! When the mind is overflowing with thoughts, questions and concerns it creates a dumping effect on the emotions and physical body. The result is a flurry of messages that create confusion in the mind, anxiety in the emotions and tension in the body. Dont take my word for it; look at your own experience as the proof! This cant be good for the golf swing and of course; its not!
When you truly see this connection between the mind, body and emotions it makes perfect sense that an over analytical mind could cause the anxious emotions and tight muscles. Too much information is being dumped into your system and it becomes overloaded. Its just that simple!
Here are some exercises you can practice on or off the golf course:
1. 3/5 Breath Count
The truth is; when you control the breath you positively impact the mind, body and emotions. Most people have read about this many times but few actually practice it. Try this: inhale through the nose for a count of 3; hold for 1 count and exhale through the mouth for a count of 5. Do this 10 times. As you do this; focus on the breath, NOT on the mind.
2. Focus on the Body
When you take practice swings in the house or the range or course focus on the body and not the mind. You dont hit the golf ball with your run on mind. Bring your focus to how your body feels as you make the swing and adjust based on that feedback (i.e. too tight, fast, slow, etc.).
3. Observe
Some people find this a challenge but its worth the effort. Simply sit undisturbed and allow your mind to ramble on. The key is NOT to react to your thoughts but simply let them stream through your mind. Leave them alone. See if you can do this for 5 to 10 minutes at first. As you practice, the noise begins to slow down creating a quieter and clearer mental space which improves performance both on and off the golf course.
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