Powering the stroke -- focus on "feel" during play?

Powering the stroke -- focus on "feel" during play?

Joined: April 4th, 2011, 11:05 am

April 28th, 2012, 10:54 am #1

Hi Geoff

I have been trying to work on powering the stroke by moving the left shoulder down towards the left foot using the muscles in my side between my ribs and hip. Without much luck. Not so much because I don't get the putter going but because I don't feel like I have distance control.

Basically when I focus on the weight of the club head and swing my hands back and through I feel like I have better feel! I'm still trying to have everything staying stable and just the shoulders rocking but it feels like I am moving the hands back and through on a pretty much straight line (curving inwards a bit back and through).

My question is what I might be losing if I keep training this way? As you've said there are just 4 things to learn. I am wondering if I am jeopardising success at one or more of these by taking this path?
Last edited by aceputt on April 29th, 2012, 11:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: April 4th, 2011, 11:05 am

April 28th, 2012, 10:57 am #2

Thanks
Brendan
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

April 28th, 2012, 4:24 pm #3

Hi Geoff

I have been trying to work on powering the stroke by moving the left shoulder down towards the left foot using the muscles in my side between my ribs and hip. Without much luck. Not so much because I don't get the putter going but because I don't feel like I have distance control.

Basically when I focus on the weight of the club head and swing my hands back and through I feel like I have better feel! I'm still trying to have everything staying stable and just the shoulders rocking but it feels like I am moving the hands back and through on a pretty much straight line (curving inwards a bit back and through).

My question is what I might be losing if I keep training this way? As you've said there are just 4 things to learn. I am wondering if I am jeopardising success at one or more of these by taking this path?
Dear Brendan,

Thinking about the body is a matter of your habits of thinking, first, and that means you don't "like" thinking about the shoulder motion and the abdomen muscles and instead "prefer" to think about the hands. You "feel" what you choose to pay attention to, but you don't really prefer to pay attention to the shoulder motion. That is just a by-product of your habit of moving the hands and "feeling" the movement of the hands.

Okay, we need to discuss "feel". "Feel" is what happens in the MIND when a golfer pays attention to a certain part of the body and then monitors changes in the feeling during the motion. "Feel" is the elevation into conscious awareness of a sense of the body. That means "feel" is conscious mind, not non-conscious instinct. What's BAD about that is that the conscious mind is the ONLY place where "feel" happens and yet golfers seem to think that "feel" is instinctive when it's absolutely NOT, and is instead what happens when the centipede thinks how it walks. Feel is grossly mischaracterized by ignorant "golf psychs" and golf teachers as somehow NOT conscious awareness but some sort of "natural" or "instinctive" way to play golf. No, it's not, and no animal on the planet including the human species needs "feel" to move in the world, yet humans seem to think that "feel" is needed. It's not. No animal body needs or even wants to have subjective awareness of how a movement feels or should feel to make the movement successfully.

The confusion comes from the difference between LEARNING and PERFORMING. Humans are the only animal ever who tries to practice a movement to make a future movement work better than a past movement. That's because only humans have a sense of personal identity that persists over past, present and future. Animals may know something about the past (e.g., the postman carries dog spray), but no animal works on a future behavior except humans. That's LEARNING, for which the conscious mind does play a role and in the mind "feel" has a place. But PERFORMANCE just uses basic learned competence in relation to the objective reality of what the proposed movement requires for success. In that context, "feel" is the wrong way to go. Performance is not "notching perfects" but is handling this shot in particular. Performance is not practicing and is not testing the effectiveness of practice, and playing golf with "feel" is not really tapping the full, mature, animal response to this or that shot. For PERFORMANCE, the last thing the golfer wants is MIND and subjective awareness of body "feel"obeying technical rules, and instead the golfer wants to know how to plug basic in-hand movement competencies and skills into the reality of what this specific shot requires for success. The attention and intentionality of the golfer during PERFORMANCE is on what the world requires to happen in order for the shot or putt to work out successfully.

Another source of golfer confusion about "feel" is embedded in the phrase "feel the shot" while playing on course. This does not mean the same as "pay attention to the feel of the movement". The phrase "feel the shot" really is golfer vague talk that means immerse the nonconscious brain in the world situation to connect with what the world requires at an intuitional, instinctive basis, not in terms of conscious thinking about the shot. here the terms "feel" means "instead of conscious attention to". So if we could just punish all golfers for using stupid, vague language without comprehending what they actually intended to say, we could "okay" this use of the term "feel" in "feel the shot" as consistent with nonconscious brain-body operation according to the way these processes actually work. But, it is just much better to REFUSE TO ALLOW these old-dumb-baggage terms to be uttered at all, since they means several bad and confusing things all at once and no one is particularly apt at using the term artfully and precisely and golfers hearing the term have ZERO skill or habits to filter out the unintended meanings carried by the term in order to correctly hear what the speaker might have intended. Golf language really needs a complete burning down and replacing, as the existing vague jargon is extremely unhelpful to teaching and learning and understanding real golf.

So you have a belief in "feel" that is misplaced, and you have a habit that keeps you thinking about your hands and tends to preclude your paying attention to the "feel" of the shoulder stroke. The short prescription is forget "feel" and just make the shoulder motion by moving the gut muscles so that the shoulder frame powers the stroke, and not the hands. Eventually, your "feel" settles down to the piece of the body high on the chest, just below the base of the neck, between the two shoulder joints, as the main body center of the shoulder frame in motion, plus a sense of what muscle tugs this piece to move in plane in a rocking bak and up action. Perhaps it helps to imagine a stick growing out of your chest that aims straight to the back of the ball with a hefty putter head on the end, and you don't have any arms or hands (they've been amputated decades ago and you don't miss them). Now swing this projected stick and its putter head and putt a ball with this "limb off the chest". Then you will "feel" the shoulder stroke's moving pieces.

Once you can attend to this, add back in awareness of arms and hands simply set in shape with some muscle tone, and then repeat the shoulder stroke. Yes, you can "feel" the arms and hands get moved by the chest, but there is no USE of these arms and hands -- they are FIXED in shape off the chest, and only the chest motion matters.

This sort of "feel" is only for LEARNING and PERFORMANCE has entirely OTHER matters to focus upon, and that is "what the world actually requires to happen for ANY golfer facing this shot according to the plan for the shot / read of the putt." In putting, that is ONLY line and distance, and line is already decided once the putter quits wiggling. So at the end of reading and aiming, the LINE is required to be the same as the aim of the putter face, and the DISTANCE is set as whatever the space between ball and green over the green speed requires to make the putt work for that aim line. Nothing is "up to the golfer's personal choices" -- and that's a fantastically valuable thing for "me-me" golfers to learn and respect. It makes the PERFORMANCE much more successful and easy to perform to know this.

You can go in one of two directions: Just do what the putt requires by using your hands to start strokes on the same LINE you aimed the putter face according to your assessment of what the world requires for success and try to make that hand motion with good tempo and rhythm so the DISTANCE also comes out as required by the read and its start line and surface reality, OR you an learn how to perform a shoulder stroke that hits the LINE of putter face aim and does so with good tempo and rhythm so the LINE and DISTANCE get integrated in the same movement. What I teach is that the shoulder stroke is simpler and more consistent and a better base for good tempo and rhythm since involving a deeper part of the core of the body than the free-floating, truant hands.

Cheers!

Geoff Mangum
Putting Coach and Theorist
PuttingZone.com


Last edited by aceputt on May 21st, 2012, 11:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: April 4th, 2011, 11:05 am

April 29th, 2012, 7:11 am #4

Thanks for your reply Geoff. You have got me thinking hard.

Firstly I appreciate your specific thoughts on hands vs shoulder and core. I will direct my training towards the core approach. Another quick question if I may:

Am I better off training that action without a ball or with a ball as part of the training?

Secondly you have got me thinking about the distinct difference between training and performance. This is the first time I have really got what you are saying on this subject. So my mind is buzzing.

Recently I have approached my chip shots in particular by feeling the weight of the club head, keeping in my 'minds eye' the target, and having an intention of making the club head move the ball to the target. Which I think sounds like a bit of what you are talking of. But I haven't specifically though about it as 'What must happen in reality to create this outcome'. But I can recall hitting some really good shots when my intention included how the club head needed to move through impact - eg hitting more of a punch and having the intention of the head striking sharply down through the ball, or a chip and run of having the head move more along the ground through the ball.

Is that the sort of thinking that I should be taking into my shots? An intention for what should be occurring as the club goes through impact?

Thanks again
Brendan
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

April 29th, 2012, 12:54 pm #5

Dear Brendan,

What reality requires for the shot, versus consciousness of the body technique for executing a good shot, includes (for putting) focus on the line on the grass the ball must start along according to the way the putter face aims after the reading and aiming of the putter in response to the "read" of what the world requires for sinking the putt with a given pace. It would also include things that equal getting that done like the putter face making square, online, centered, solid contact with the ball in relation to the initial aim and start line for sinking the putt. For executing the putt so that the ball is sent with the same pace used to read the putt, the world-body relationship usually requires animal intentionality to the ending of the putt at the hole plus the usual tempo-rhythm in the making of the stroke movement generating the appropriate size and impact velocity of putter head thru ball. It would also include delivering the putt with the energy that reacts in real physics to the contour and speed of the green surface so the ball follows the predicted "read" pathway over intermediate markers curving appropriately into the hole on the predicted entry path.

In contrast, the practice sort of focus would be on the grip, the feel of the stroke path, the shape of the stroke path, and that sort of "technical" stuff. At this point, that sort of focus is appropriate only to "putting in general" as is always the case in practice, whereas the real focus on "this putt in particular" is not best performed with a set of general rules or by attending to the execution of the general pattern for executing practice strokes. The practice technical stuff only matters if it SERVES THE INTENDED ACTION that does what the shot requires to work. That means WHETHER is vastly more important than HOW, and HOW only matters to the extent it helps WHETHER what is required gets done. Intending to accomplish what is required is much more successful in getting done what is required to happen than is intending to operate a check list of rules for HOW the shot "ought to" get played. Technique ain't what it's cracked up to be in comparison to intending "somehow / anyhow" to do what is required.

In the moment of PLAYING THE SHOT, as Jack Nicklaus correctly says, "There are no rules -- I will do anything it takes to sink a putt." This means: all the rules applied in the practice session to get the strokes into straight-jacketed perfection or close to it are now "out the window" when it comes to "this putt". For "this putt", "whatever IT takes" is the same as whatever the reality of the situation demands must happen for the putt to sink. The normal order of sorting that putt is: sorting first the touch / pace to use before predicting how reality and pace combine on the surface to generate only one read; sorting how that one read requires only one start line for that pace; sorting how the aiming of the putter face is organized to comply with the required start line; sorting how the aim of the putter face requires the ball roll over only the exact 3-5" of grass blades in front of the putter face's sweetspot over which the aimed putter face at address points; and then finally sorting out the intended space and arrival pace of the ball at the hole as the same delivery pace used to read the putt so that using the usual tempo-rhythm will result in sending the ball with the appropriate physics required to sink the putt on the pathway of the read.

This sorting leaves the golfer with NO CHOICE about what the world requires to sink the putt: since the pace is decided and matches only the aim and start line, the golfer MUST execute the stroke on that very same line, with the read's pace. Anything else could not possibly match the read and sink the putt except by odd, unintended coincidence. That's a great place to end up, psychologically -- no choice about what to do and clear awareness of what must happen, and the practice that means executing what is required is normal and simple -- hit the line with the usual tempo-rhythm. This ends up being WHETHER the golfer starts the ball on the line the putter face aims, not HOW according to the preferred technique from the practicing. At this point WHETHER is all that matters, and any HOW that might get in the way of getting the WHETHER performed is not helpful. No rules, just do IT (i.e., start the ball down the line the putter face has been aimed). The same is true for starting the ball on line with the required pace: it is WHETHER the golfer uses the usual tempo-rhythm, not HOW. It is not UP TO the golfer at this point, because the shot has been completely sorted, and only WHETHER the golfer starts the ball on line and with the required pace matters, not HOW.

In your example, the sorting of the shot left you at the brink of executing the shot with the PLAN that is predicted to match the reality that must happen for the shot to work. If that PLAN includes the "club head making solid impact to send the ball off on the low "punch" trajectory that lands the ball "here" and causes the ball to skip along and then roll out to the hole "thusly", then that is what you GET DONE when executing the shot. That is WHETHER you accomplish the PLAN, not really HOW in terms of grip and stance and takeaway etc., which is all body-feel stuff. Once the shot is planned for "ball moves in the physics of the world thusly", it is WHETHER the golfer accomplishes the intended action sending the shot into the world.

Greg Norman uses a hoop imagined in the air at the peak of the chip or pitch shot's trajectory in the air on the way to the green or other landing, and then INTENDS to make a shot that send the ball thru that space. This is his "read" of what location for the hoop shapes his trajectory to match what the world requires to make a successful shot, given his ball's location on the course in relation to the green. At the brink of executing the shot, his focus would be entirely on WHETHER he sends the ball thru the imagined hoop and WHETHER the ball then landed as planned, not on HOW he gripped or swung the club as learned in practice.

If in the course of 18 holes a HOW problem reveals itself, the golfer needs to be able to diagnose the cause of the HOW error and fix it immediately to limit the damage to the score card of the flawed HOW, or in the alternative the golfer needs a plan to accommodate the flawed HOW in the planning of subsequent shots affected by the flaw until he gets the round finished. Jack Nicklaus in such a case would then go to the range after the round to finish off the diagnosis of the problem and getting the fix back on track to eliminate the flawed HOW for the next day's round, and however many practice balls that required to understand the cause and fix for that day's flaw in the HOW, that would be all the balls he would hit on the range, and then he would stop banging balls and leave. The next day, he would just put the HOW in the background again, while focusing on WHATEVER WAS REQUIRED for this shot or that shot to work out, so he could WIN the tournament with at least one stroke fewer than all other competitors in the field. The intentionality is always to do WHATEVER IS REQUIRED for this shot to get the shot performed to win the tournament -- whatever shot is required to win, performed by doing whatever the world requires to pull off the required shot.

Once you have the HOW internalized into general competence for this sort of shot (driver, driver fade, driver draw, five-iron punch, low chop with bite, full pitch shot with backspin, putt where aimed with good pace, etc.), the shot planning or reading of the putt "selects" the shot that the golfer has competency to execute from practice, but the focus is on PERFORMING the shot in the specific situation -- sending the ball off according to what the world in that case requires.

Motor sports academics speak about this confusingly with jargon that distinguishes "internal" focus versus "external" focus, but they don't really get how it works or why it works the way it does. The academic manner of discussing the difference doesn't really "get" how the internal / external stuff relates to practice versus performance. And the terms "focus", "attention" and "intentionality" are also not correctly used and understood, since based upon vague notions of these functions from outdated conceptualizations of these functions. As to this latter point, there is a world of difference between animal intentionality that matters immensely and so-called internal OR external focus or attention. Animal intentionality in movement completely subsumes any vague notions of focus and attention, as animals with intentionality don't know or use "focus" or "attention" and don't need these concepts. Humans in golf would be well served to replace any talk of "focus" and "attention" with notions of animal intentionality physically to move successfully. This taps into the nonconscious brain-body processes of the human brain and body shared in common with all animal movement. All animals have intentionality to space when moving, including humans, but this intentionality is a physical orientation of the moving action of the body, and is not in the least mental or psychological in terms of any specific awareness in the mind. Intentionality is contentless for mental awareness, so speaking of "focus" and "attention" as if basically equivalent to intentionality is confused and confusing, which is the sort of talking about this one gets from motor sports academics who don't know the difference.

The performance context is always VERY SPECIFIC for the world's situation and the required physics for the shot, whereas the practice context is always general. This is also the reason practice has questionable transfer value from the practice context to the performance situations. The usual "cut-and-paste" advice by so-called motor sports experts on how to get practice to transfer to play is to "imagine in practice that you are actually playing a real shot". Okay, that means get specific about the world's physics and focus on that specific WHETHER instead of focusing on the HOW. In brain science, that also means "open the attention to the unique novelty of THIS shot and its required physics reality for planning and executing the shot" -- WHETHER that gets done is all that matters, not HOW. When the practice is attentive to the novelty of this or that specific putt, as opposed to swatting balls mindlessly down the same boring line or chipping 50 balls to a cluster of balls at the flagstick or popping 20 balls out of a bunker with the same destination, the brain gets better exercise for integrating the subskills into performance. So all practice should probably be organized into GENERAL subskill-only attentiveness to the HOW and then all-subskills-integrated-in-performing-specific-putts/shots attentiveness open to the novelty in which WHETHER takes priority over HOW. This latter sort of practice is the sort that best transfers to on-course performance, because it is responsive to the novelty and specific uniqueness encountered on the course from shot to shot, situation to situation, and because it is integrative of the HOW into the INTENDED WHETHER.

Psychologically, it bears commenting that in the 21st century conventional "golf psychology" as developed and taught circa 1970-1990 is DEAD because fundamentally wrong-headed about how the brain functions. The brain does not function in any animal for movement including in humans according to the way 'golf psychs" and "motor sports" folks imagine it to function, specifically in the relationship between the conscious mind and the nonconscious processes of the brain-body for learning skill or for planning and executing shots in performing on the course.

That is the result of none of them getting familiar with the brain research 1990-2012 that has CHANGED and INVALIDATED the way the brain was thought to work circa 1970-1990. None of their books or articles have any of the new research footnoted or incorporated in any fashion in the discussions of how the brain-body actually works (I checked), and yet medical and neuroscience researchers the world over have engaged in 100s of millions of dollars of research annually since 1990 on just these nonconscious brain processes, with such intensity that today in 2012 so much research is now known about this that there is over 350 times more and different knowledge about nonconscious brain-body processes for perception and movement and subordinate processes than was known in all human history up to 1990. Speaking about the brain-body processes (or the "mind") in 2012 WITHOUT familiarity with this NEW knowledge but only from the ideas or notions current before 1990 is simply yammering on in ignorance with outdated notions -- as ignorant and uneducated as the "flat earth experts" advising Christopher Columbus about his certain fate of sailing over the edge of the ocean, even AFTER he returns from Hispanola with native parrots in wooden cages swinging from his yardarms.

The brain research of the immediately preceding two decades 1990-2010 happens to be exactly the wrong body of research to "take a powder" on, without doing the required homework to incorporate into a golf psych's or motor sports academic's understanding, before such a so-called expert purports to speak about how the mind or body or brain actually functions and what that means to the golfer and what the golfer should do about how the brain and body functions in golf shot planning and shot execution or shot practicing and learning. But the truth is that NONE of the current golf psychs actually have any familiarity with the past 22 years of NEW brain science that is different and that invalidates what they think is the case. For example, Bob Rotella says that using the "unconscious" is the way to go, but all he can say about doing that is "don't use the mind" and "trust" ... (something). He has ZERO knowledge of how the nonconscious brain actually gets operated by this or that intentional behavior by the golfer, as how certain perceptual behaviors shape and determine nonconsciously how the movement proceeds, and yet there is 22 years of research about the way the brain and body actually operates nonconsciously that he SHOULD be deeply familiar with. Those books include works by Gazzaniga, Le Doux, Damasio, Llinas, Berthoz, Jeannerod, Paillard, Churchland, Hubel, Livingstone, Koch, Chalmers, Rock, Farah, Noe, Melvin, Goodale, Kaufman, and many others -- none of whose works he or any of the current golf psychs and motor sports academics have any awareness of, and they never incorporate this knowledge in how the brain and body actually get operated. These folks have A LOT OF CATCHING UP to get done before they can speak accurately about what they currently purport to speak.

I hate to be the one to tell golfers this, since it is sort of equivalent to saying " Jesus used drugs in his youth" or something equally disturbing and unwelcomed, but "feel" as taught by golf psychs and golf teachers is just the wrong way to PERFORM golf, although it has a role in PRACTICING and LEARNING golf. The reason is that golf psychs and golf teachers don't really "get" the difference between what is concious and what is nonconscious and how the nonconscious processes operate according to brain science. Contrary to popular and ignorant undertsanding, "feel" is what happens when a golfer attends to the internal state of the body in order to elevate into the conscious awareness subjective registration in the mind of the body state for posture and/or movement. The "conscious" mind is "anything about which the golfer is subjectively aware", but the NONconscious brain-body (brain as organ connected to the body as animal that moves effectively in response to the requirements of the world ere and now) does not include anything in awareness, by definition. Consequently, subjective awareness of "feel" is trying to move and perform movement according to the CONSCIOUS mind, and that is exactly the opposite of what golf psychs say they meant to say. So golf psychs are typically a bit confused and ignorant with respect to "feel" and its role in golf.

Okay, PERHAPS refreshing a sense of HOW while in the midst of playing a round of golf and a series of unique shots can have some value in orienting the golfer to the WORLD'S REQUIREMENTS for this or that unique shot situation. But after this threshold help getting focused on what is required by the world, this HOW business ought to yield to attentiveness and intentionality to COMPLY with whatever the world requires, anyHOW that might get accomplished. Basically, the shot or putt once "read" and planned doesn't care at all who or how execution complies with the requirements of the shot, and only WHETHER the shot meets the requirements of success matters.

As to flaws in the HOW popping up in the course of playing, what happens is that the background competency in the brain is accompanied by a silent set of guardian how-to rules that get activated by the error in getting the planned shot to comply with what the world requires. This know-how is explicitly understood and articulable rules that usually reside in the silence of background general competence for shotmaking or putting skills, but the error awakens these rules and then the golfer is able to self-diagnose and self-coach with respect to the error while still performing on course. Without these articulable know-how guardians already learned and waiting silently to diagnose error causation and error corrections, the golfer is at the mercy of his wavering uneducated "talent". Talent without know-how is NOT skill, and skill means the golfer has know-how that explains what causes good and bad performance. Even more fundamentally, if the golfer cannot articulate in simple language to himself and others what he is doing and why it works as it does, then he completely lacks knowledge or know-how, although he may have "talent" and can perform effectively up to the point where error occurs without the know-how to understand what caused the error. But the actual performance does not play the shot or putt by mentally recalling and invoking and applying these practice-skill rules. That is the centipede who thought about how to walk when he tried to walk and fell over doing that. During performance, these rules only awaken upon error.

A centipede was happy quite!
Until a toad in fun
Said, "Pray, which leg moves after which?"
This raised her doubts to such a pitch,
She fell exhausted in the ditch
Not knowing how to run.

But in practice, the whole point of practicing subskills is to gain the explicit understanding of HOW this skills works in terms of what body movement pattern CAUSES good or bad results n relation to what was intended. That is ALL ABOUT paying attention to the internal state of the body while exploring and pinning down or honing movement skills. In practice "feel" or attending to the body is required in order to learn and extract from the practice session what body performance pattern is good and effective and causes intended outcome and what error in body performance causes bad outcome. That loads the brain with background competence for the skill that gets put into performance but with the explicit body know-how not being attended to during performance and only awakening upon error. Golfers with this sort of know-how whop talented-but-ignorant golfers off the course given a sufficient period of time, because the talented-but-ignorant golfers are subject to LONG periods of slumps where they cannot fix problems and simply suffer along in existential doubt about themselves and their game once errors start occurring, whereas "skillful" golfers never worry about misses or errors since they immediately can diagnose what they did to cause the error and what is required to get back on track immediately. This makes the "skillful" golfer talented in performing and also a tortoise in the steadiness of the high-quality performance, whereas the talented-but-ignorant golfer is merely talented SOMETIMES in performance but is helpless in slumps like the hare who races ahead briefly and then stalls out and piddles while the tortoise moves past him and wins the race. Knowledge for talented skillful performance always beats "athletic" or "natural" talent without know-how of cause and effect, given a sufficiently long race, even if the "talent" looks to result in performance quite a bit above the performance of the skilled golfer. Over time, my bet is on the skilled performer, not on the talented but ignorant golfer, to earn more money, to contend more often, and to close the deal more frequently. Even if that might not always be true against all possible talents, it is definitely true against almost all talents, and that is extremely worthwhile in competitions. And even as to those rare "very talented" individuals, they would be well advised to add know-how to their talents so that they are MUCH BETTER than at present.

Cheers!

Geoff Mangum
Putting Coach and Theorist
PuttingZone.com


Last edited by aceputt on May 21st, 2012, 11:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: April 4th, 2011, 11:05 am

April 29th, 2012, 8:14 pm #6

Thanks again Geoff

Another question. When executing how should the conscious mind be used? So if I have determined the required tempo-rythmn and starting line, how do I keep my conscious mind from trying to interject 'hows' into the performance of the putt (or chip or drive)?

Cheers
Brendan
Last edited by Weetbix on April 29th, 2012, 8:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

April 30th, 2012, 2:28 am #7

Dear Brendan,

Excellent follow-on question!

The mind is irrelevant to the stroke so long as the golfer is going about fulfilling the destiny of the putt by complying with the read and therefore the requirements of the world. That means so long as the golfer is intending to start the ball on the same line the putter face aims along and to do this with the usual tempo and rhythm that generates the required pace for the read, the real question is WHETHER the golfer actually does that. The mind doesn't help unless it is keeping the golfer on task. But NOTHING matters if the golfer DOES start the ball on line with the right pace. So if the mind is whistling Dixie or working math problems during the stroke, BUT the golfer still starts the ball on line with the right pace, the mind didn't hurt. If the golfer stands on one leg and putts with the toe end of the putter BUT still starts the ball on line with the right pace, the HOW doesn't matter. If the mind is OFF or ON, BUT the golfer still starts the ball on line with the right pace, the content or lack of content of the mind is totally irrelevant.

The golfer has "intentionality" to hit the ball where the putter face aims and to do so with the usual tempo-rhythm and pace. This is not really mind content or contribution of psychology, but is standard operating procedure for any animal intending to do some movement, as when a cat pounces on a mouse or an owl swoops down and catches a chipmunk in its talons.

There really is NO POSITIVE ROLE for the mind that I would recommend apart from possible awareness of the intention, which is sort of a passivce role, not an active contribution to the success of the putt. Hitting the ball exactly on line doesn't need the mind. Making the stoke with the usual tempo-rhythm doesn't need the mind. In fact, the mind is a bit unsuited for either of these tasks.

What I recommend is humming or whistling or making a metronome "sputt!" noise with your mouth at the start of the backstroke and again at the moment of impact in the tempo-rhythm timing pattern or during the thru-stroke say the word "boooom" in slow motion during impact or say the phrase "I'm happy" during impact or make the mind experience a happy emotion or look at one blade of grass diuring the stroke and think about how that blade of grass is shaped and colored.

The main function of the above is to place in conscious mind something that is the same as the nonconscious intentionality in some basic sense. All of the above forestall the mind taking an active role in the stroke, since the high probability is that the mind's contribution will direct the action into something OTHER than simply start the ball on the line the putter face has been aimed along, with the usual tempo-rhythm. But they do so while alos supporting the intentionality and the idea that WHETHER the ball starts on line with good pace is ALL THAT MATTERS.

Yes, it's true the mind COULD be harnessed in service of the NONconscious body at work getting the size of the backstroke perfectly adjusted for the required force of the putt, but really and truly the mind doesn't know how that is supposed to work and in fact is slave to habits of faster tempo and fear reactions to unfamiliar backstrokes, so the mind if invited to the party is likely to cause a rude scene and spoil the party. Likewise with respect to hitting the ball on line, what could the mind possibly contribute to that, it's so clear and simple?

The best plan is to have YOUR MIND finally accept and agree that all is best when YOUR MIND stays out of it and leaves the engaged and finely honed processes of the nonconscious body tuned to the space by the safe-arrival of ball at and shortly past hole distance intentionality, and the on-task nonconscious movement processes that will best and most ofen start the ball on line if left unmolested by checklists and rules and mid-stroke concerns and secondary plans. Eventually, you will STOP thinking or acting as if the mind has anything to contribute other than bad changes to the simple plan.

There is a basic idea that if your mind needs a gimmick to stay out of the putt, then you haven't really accepted the truth that the mind doesn't handled the pace or starting the ball on line.

Now, back to what to DO to stay on task with the nonconscious body starting the ball on line with the right pace -- that is mostly musicality in the swinging of the putter while also starting the ball on line. Anything that alters the back-and-thru swinging of the putter into some sort of non-rhythmical starting and stopping is bad, so stay musical. Putting is dancing, not test-taking.

Cheers!

Geoff Mangum
Putting Coach and Theorist
PuttingZone.com


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Joined: April 4th, 2011, 11:05 am

April 30th, 2012, 12:20 pm #8

Brilliant Geoff. Thanks.

So now I have a clear plan. Training the four skills. Green reading will mean getting out to the practice green. But I can do daily training on aiming the putter face on my mat at home. And I can train setting the club-arms combo with good muscle tone and powering the stroke with a shoulder motion driven by the muscles in the side of my left waist at home too.

And I can also put these skills into practice on the putting mat while training the conscious mind approach. I think my first experiments will be with the slow mo BOOOOMMMM on the thru stroke; I really like the idea of that one. For some reason hitting putts with a child like big boom sound appeals to me!

Mate, you are a real help. Remind me I need to go buy your ebook. Already have the SITD video, but not the book yet.

Cheers from Oz
Brendan
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

May 1st, 2012, 1:36 am #9

Dear Brendan,

Once you get a gun that always shoots wherever aimed and with the right pace and distance and delivery speed, then when you read putts with that in place, you cannot afford to find a read path that does not fit with that, so the read must be a higher line than usual since you've slowed down the delivery, and the start line and target matter because you must putt wherever the putter face gets aimed.

If you ALWAYS putt with 'a gun that always shoots straight wherever aimed and also shoots the right distance and pace," then you will be forced to accept misses as caused by poor reads, and you will also know that the misses are almost always from too low a line, so you will gradually start chanting a low-voice mantra: "high and slow, high and slow". Then you will find out that the mantra really is "aim and putt the line that is just high enough and not higher than necessary when I approach the hole slowly that the ball never falls to the low side but makes it all the way to and into the hole on the chosen line without the necessity ever of speeding up the usual stroke and pace." never change the pace or usual tempo-rhythm; never change the straightness of the starting roll that matches wherever the putter face has been aimed; and always correct too-low lines ONY by aiming slightly higher -- in fact as much higher over the last putt as the last putt missed below the hole as it crossed the fall line below the hole -- just that same amount more higher aim and start line." Touch first and always the same, then line.

Cheers!

Geoff Mangum
Putting Coach and Theorist
PuttingZone.com


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