If you are setting goals for 2016 you may want to look at your focus………
How many times have we heard or said, “Well I (or you) just need to focus a bit more….” when it comes getting to a end goal in all areas of our life? The power of mental force is obviously real as we have seen it work time and time again. Golf though, as do many other sports, require the ability to shift the focus depending on the goal of the session.
Focus can be broken down into two distinctly different types: Internal and External. An example of internal would be focusing on your hands, arms, or legs during the swing. An example of external would be focusing on the club head, the back of the ball, or the flight of the ball.
Innately our brains love to multi-task, the problem is the brain just isn’t good at it. We need to look no further than the difficulty to drive safely while texting to prove that. So our brains love feel the swing, as we hit it solid and toward the target but the problem is mixing internal and external focus on a regular basis will lead to poorer performances. It is not as dangerous as texting and driving but it is detrimental to improvement.
If you are evaluating your swing and performance over 2015 and making some goals for 2016 please take a look at where your focus has been. Let’s make it easy. There are 4 areas where a golfer can put their primary focus: The Swing itself, Contact, Shape of Flight, and The Target.
If you are going to work on your swing, do it in front of a mirror without a ball or with the ball flying into a net. Here feedback is critical about your movements and the ball flight should not be your major feedback component. My advice is to have a great coach get involved in your process and you both come up with a plan. Knowledge, movements, mirrors, and iPhones will provide a great feedback station.
If you are going to work on hitting it solid, then keep your primary focus there. Don’t mix ball flight or swing in with it. For feedback use where your divots start in relationship to the ball, face tape on your irons and woods. Let the face tape and divot location be your main focus. Hit is solid.
If you are going to work on your shot shape don’t pay attention to the target. That is right don’t pay attention to the target. Hit draws, fades, high shots, low shots or whatever your heart desires. There is a lot of research pointing to the fact that variability in practice is beneficial. So don’t try and hit the same shot over and over…..spice it up!
If you are going to hit the ball toward the target then put your focus there. Here being realistic is so important. Don’t stand on the range and try to hit the pole that is in the ground at two hundred yards. Give yourself 30 foot targets and 35 yard fairways on the range. My preference as a coach is to push the player to the golf course here. It doesn’t have to be 9 or holes or 18 holes; it can be 3 holes or 6 holes.
*When you are switching focus you will inevitably note your focus is not like a laser beam. Focus doesn’t work like that. Instead make sure you know where your primary focus is and push yourself to keep your primary focus in the area that is the goal of the session.
**HOMEOSTASIS is word referring to the tendency for us to maintain a balance or constant internal state. Golf is anything but a game designed to aid a player in keeping a balanced and internal state as you well know. The problem with keeping your focus always on the swing is that when you go to the golf course your BRAIN will do its best to keep the focus on on the swing which is an internal focus. The problem with internal focus is that it has been proven over and over again that we perform better with an external focus.
By switching your focus around you will do a couple of great things for your game. Number one you will learn what focus you will perform your best with. Number two you will learn where to focus to enhance your performance.