Drive Golf Performance Blog

Drive Golf Performance Blog

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Under Competition, Your Brain Reverts to the Familiar

Last weekend, I attended a coaching seminar given by Dr. Rick Jensen and Henry Brunton. If you ever get a chance to attend a talk by Henry or Rick, please do, you won't regret it. They have a lot of knowledge to pass on.

This story comes courtesy of Dr. Rick Jensen.

Imagine attending a five day running school. The first day, your running is evaluated, your times are recorded, technique looked at etc.. The second day, a new running technique is introduced, running backwards. This technique will turn out to be more efficient, use less energy, put less stress on your joints, give you a better posture and eventually you will run a lot faster and longer backwards.

For the rest of the school you learn this new technique and practice it. At the start it's a bit awkward but towards the end of the week, you're getting the hang of it, starting to enjoy it and are running better and faster backwards. You go away happy and think this will be great for your running.

The following weekend, you head off on a long awaiting hiking trip to the Yellowstone National Park. You're having a great time with your family, the scenery is fantastic, the hiking is challenging but very rewarding when late on the first day you come across this

So what do you do? You run as fast as you can away from the bear. Would you run backwards? Unlikely. You would run forwards because that's what your brain is most familiar with. It takes a lot longer than a running school of 5 days to master a new running skill.

What does this have to do with golf?

A player's weakest skill tends to break down under pressure. What does it break down to?  It reverts to the familiar, the player's most common prior ball flight for example. Under competition, the body will revert back to what it knows best, and if a player hasn't developed or trained a new skill effectively enough, the old pattern will often show up.

How is a Skill mastered?

There are four steps to mastery.

1) Understanding Cause and Effect
2) Supervised Practice
3) Transfer Training
4) Play

It takes time to go through all these steps. When you're out playing and a new swing change isn't quite working, it just means that you haven't gone through all the steps required to master it. It doesn't mean you're choking or the swing change isn't right for you. There's no need to go back to step 1 and look for another swing fix. Consider that Tiger Woods has gone through numerous swing changes in his career and it has roughly taken him 18 months to get comfortable with the changes. If Tiger takes 18 months, practicing numerous hours a week, don't be too harsh on yourself if it's taking a couple of months for you to fix your slice.

If you would like some more information on the Four Steps to Mastery, read Dr. Rick Jensen's book 'Easier Said then Done' or contact us here at Drive Golf Performance to find out how we coach to mastery.


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