With the evolution of golf robots (primarily for equipment testing) that can get a hole in one time after time, it is easy to the think that the perfect golfer is born. In fact, the robots highlight quite how impressive you are and what is required from you in 18 holes of golf.
The fluid motion of the club and body during the swing encapsulates the brain and body working together in harmony.
When it feels this good, the brain is telling you something.
There are a number of key scientific papers that back up our intuition on this topic; Focus on temporal (timing related) and rhythm aspects of our movement promote peak performance. The nature of this focus is low in cognitive load while being rich in movement cues.
It's no wonder that the world of movement science is so heavily represented by research undertaken in golf. Hugely POWERFUL, yet GRACEFUL to the point of exhibiting fine CONTROL and massive SPEED. This does not occur overnight. Well done David Griffiths (swing model above).
You would think that an 8 year study on the benefits of relinquishing swing thoughts would lead me to become a sports psychologist, complete hippy or otherwise esoteric character. To give you a clue as to the personal impact of the study, I am a technical coach that utilizes 3D motion analysis technology. I value greatly self-awareness of one’s movement and view technical awareness as the route to positive automaticity.
Automaticity in our domain is the executing of shots in the absence of swing thoughts. This is the most talked about area of golf psychology and learning.
Championed by Dr Bob Rotella in his best selling books and with it’s roots in ancient arts this area has massive implications for golfers and is the primary focus of my PhD research.
“A single conscious thought will direct the arrow from the course of it’s target”
Zen in the Art of Archery
Attentional focus is a huge are of motor learning research and includes a mass of studies in the golf arena. Blog post to follow
MAC is a modern system of training optimal performance states. It has it’s origins in eastern philosophy and contains strong elements of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This is fundamentally different to mainstream sports psychology training.
Easier to Learn
Prominent research into skill acquisition suggests that learning by analogy frees up the mind from specific extrinsic instructions and allows us to perform without the over thinking associated with technical change. Rather than the learner having to compute the individual elements of a new movement, they can tap into a larger, exhisting motor program and adjust and adapt from that.