Analyze This and Analyze That
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Most of my clients are very analytical and it shows in the way they think about, talk about and play the game. In fact, they are so analytical they often say they have difficulty quieting their minds and shutting it off from the mental noise and its constant chatter. In addition, this issue is just as prevalent for men, women and juniors.
Most of us have been taught to think, analyze and break everything down by using our thinking mind but the truth for many people is; when this process is overused, it hurts their game more than it helps it. The ability to use the mind in a clear and analytical way is definitely a terrific trait that will positively affect your game. However, many golfers confuse an analytical mind with what I call a run-on mind. Just because its busy doesnt mean its constructive.
The run-on mind is filled with mental noise consisting of a constant barrage of thoughts that wander from replays of the past to projections of the future. A very high percentage of this mental noise is actually quite useless. This process is so automatic that it is unconscious. Did you ever notice how automatically your mind runs on with the same thoughts, judgments and criticisms over and over again? The most damaging effect of this run-on mind is the fact that it removes you from present moment awareness. The truth is; the present moment is the only real moment you have in which to do anything.
The over analytical golfer can become so tied up in their heads that the golf swing becomes stiff and lacks freedom and power. This is where the expression paralysis by analysis comes from. This mental prison can also cause a breakdown in mechanics to take place because the mental breakdown creates a physical breakdown (tension, doubt) and the swing lacks fluidity and power. When this happens, many golfers look to mechanics as the root issue but quite often it is something else.
Here are 3 suggestions to bring an over active mind into focus:
1.3/5 Breath Count
The truth is; when you control the breath you positively impact the mind, body and emotions. Breathing is written about in just about every book on the subject of peak performance but I find that 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 at the range or course focus on the body and not the thinking mind. You dont hit the golf ball with your run on mind; you hit it with a relaxed and open body (hopefully!). Bring your attention 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 a specific item
Find something outside yourself to specifically put your attention on. You could pick a tree, a branch of a tree, a flower or something else that is in view from where you are. Again, this doesnt require the thinking mind at all. It simply requires your attention to be placed there.
The thinking mind can be your ally or your worst enemy. Which is it for you?
To Your Best Golf!