The Story We Tell Ourselves

The Story We Tell Ourselves

I have to confess, I am amazed at the stories that people tell themselves, daily. Years of teaching and learning the qualities of empathy have given me an insight into what players are actually thinking as they let their guard down, so to speak, as they grapple with the mechanical movements of the golf swing. 

It is an important part of my teaching process as I try to transfer technical biomechanical information into images and feelings for the player to digest. But if you have a player that believes he/she is poor at something, this "story" has to be tackled straight away. Golfers are fantastic at telling themselves negative stories about their ability to execute a certain shot but the reality that I see daily is, the easy way out is to convince yourself that you can't do it. Can you relate to any of the following players?

  • They have never taken the time to seek out expert instruction on the shot. 
  • They don't practice or they avidly practice being bad.
  • The story forms, "I can't do this," and they spend their life telling anyone that will listen that... "I can't putt."

I have come across some chronic cases in my teaching of clients who couldn't putt or chip etc. But when I guided them through a structured method they improved beyond belief. Think of it like building "LEGO," one block at a time, now the wall is built on a solid foundation and not sand. Commonplace replies from clients would be, "I never knew that," "Nobody told me that,'" and "Really, I should do that?" Why would your playing partners tell you any of these things? THEY DON'T KNOW! No more than I know anything about hematology, (but I am happy to report that I am getting better as a consultant-client is educating me at present to 4th-grade level!)
Do yourself a favor, abandon this story of, "I Can't," find a good coach, and put some time aside to work on the game, it takes time and effort, the other alternative is the world you probably live in now, the reality you have created by telling yourself daily that I'm just no good at golf and guess what, after a while that will become your reality. Be careful with the stories you tell yourself.​​​​

“The story you tell yourself daily will become your reality, in golf, business, and even life itself” 

This weeks question from Karl and concerns putting!
Hi Tadhg, my putting has become really poor to the point that I feel I have the dreaded "yips" when I am out on the course. What advice can you give me? 

Well, Karl, you are not the first golfer to feel like this and it is a much more common problem than golfers realize. I have taught a number of golfers with the full-blown "yips," that literally couldn't get the club down behind the ball. My number one rule that has served me well over the years is when dealing with "yips" is not to try and fix the problem, this is, in my humble opinion, futile, so what to do?
I concentrate on three key areas...

  • Start by writing a brand new motor pattern
  • Change the focus of attention. 
  • Seperate the "Mechanics" (practice green) from "The art of putting" (course) 
  • First thing to remember is that everyone is unique, we are all wired differently so there are no one cure fixes all. That said, there is a condition known as neuroplasticity, the brain is always changing and you can forge new pathways and create new habits. Messages are sent back and forth throughout the body on neural pathways, think of them as superhighways but sometimes they can get blocked, you are sending the message from the brain to your hands but it isn't fully getting through.
  • When writing a new motor pattern, make it radically different to what you were doing, think Berhard Langer and his grip changes. Pick a set of parameters to putt with and stick with them, use a coach to check that nothing is changing and give it a couple of months. You won't create anything worthwhile in a couple of days! 
  • Change your focus of attention. I use this all the time when my clients have finally learned the mechanics of the swing, I call them my processing drills! Focusing on the mechanics of your stroke, on the putter head, whether the path is inside or out, is one sure way of killing your "feel" stone dead. The more you concentrate on the "perfect stroke" the more left brain you become. The only pictures you will paint from here will be by joining the dots

Some drills to try

  • Line up your golf ball properly - putter head - golf ball - spot - apex and awareness of the hole. Now, from about 20 feet, start by only looking at the line and the hole while counting to four, then hit the putt without ever looking at the ball. Give yourself some time doing this, you will be surprised how different it feels after a while, you have shifted your focus of attention away from the putter head (mechanics) to the line. There are a number of variations of this drill but start here! I have seen unbelievable improvement in students putting like this in practice.
  • Try the same 20-foot putt again, place a tee in the ground where the putter head is finishing after you have struck the putt. Now concentrate solely on not letting the putter head finish beyond the tee, let your eyes drift out as you strike the putt to check the finish of the putter head. Again, you have changed your focus of attention away from the putter head and your stroke! This is what is known as "the art of putting."
  • Finally, experiment with a completely different grip, or set up, anything to break away from your original pattern. You will need to do this with a coach, so find a good one and start again! Finally, make sure to separate your practice routines. Imagine owning two boxes, one contains all the mechanical tools to putt with, the other box contains the sensory drills for the golf course. Never bring box one onto a golf course with you, it is for the practice ground. If you find you are thinking about mechanics on course, you need to spend more time practicing.

The Takeaway:
Trying to fix the "Yips" is a futile exercise, rewrite the motor pattern.

Player Watch - Norman Xiong

wrote about Cameron Champ a couple of weeks ago, he of the prestigious drives and deft touch around the greens, but if reports are to be believed from the very same college that he emerged from, another unstoppable force, 19-year-old Norman Xiong, is patiently waiting in the wings with even more firepower and already being compared to one, Tiger Woods.

“At 19 years old, I think Tiger is the only guy I would defer to as being better than Norman. I haven’t seen much better than him at that age. He’s really that good.”  Casey Martin, 
Oregan Head Coach & Tiger Woods teammate at Stanford  

Now recognized as the top pick coming out of college, his progression through the amateur ranks has been seamless, the then 18-year-old became the second youngest player to compete in the Walker Cup and of course, he went unbeaten at the Los Angeles Country Club. With a 133mph swing speed and 194mph ball speed, he is carrying the ball over 340 yards and is reported to be quite straight off the tee. On his home track at Eugene Country Club, Casey estimates that Norman would have a +9 handicap index.

So, the biggest show in town awaits the arrival of the "big show."

Being a avid golf fan, I'm looking forward to seeing Norman tee it up on Tour but I'm tempering my enthusiasm when I think back to probably the most famous phenomenon to hit the tour in years, Ty Tyson, who made his first PGA Tour cut at just 16 years of age and secured a cool eight million dollars in endorsements at just 17. Alone on the golf course, on the biggest stage in professional golf, Tyson was a complete train wreck. A boy swimming in shark-infested waters, he missed 23 out of 28 cuts and was done by the age of 20. 

“The reality of top-level professional golf is, they all swing it well and they all have great short games, but you can't buy or learn experience, it only comes from swimming with the sharks."

Around the World

An hour to spare?
Podcast Corner!

I am a big fan of Podcasts, I like to listen to them in the background while working on all things digital! There are some terrific ones around (if you know where to look) and I will try to guide you towards some of my favorites! This week it's Sean Foley, (golf coach to some of the best players in the world), I admire his work as I truly believe that we are only scratching the surface when it comes to teaching. He alludes to talking to biomechanists (my passion) and getting the reply "it depends" to eight out of ten questions. It's brought to you by the excellent John Brenkus of the Brink of Midnight Podcast.

"Success is being excited to wake up and being able to fall asleep in less than a minute"...
Sean Foley

Quotes of the week 

"Aim and alignment are by far the most important elements of the act of moving a golf ball from A to B. Rub the magic lamp, get the genie to give you any golf swing of your choice from history, and, if you don't direct it correctly from the beginning, it still won't reduce your present score by even one measly stroke. "  Jack Nicklaus.

"Learn the fundamentals of the game and stick to them. Band-Aid remedies never lastJack Nicklaus.

Without good footwork, you might as well as be playing video games” Jack Nicklaus.

Last Word

This week goes to Brandel Chamblee, the Golf Channel pundit who is not afraid to speak his mind on all things golf but usually has his opinions backed up by solid stats and this tweet below is shocking, to be honest. It quite clearly shows the flip-flop nature of how golf has changed from fairways and greens to an all-out bombers paradise on the USPGA Tour. It is hard to believe that in 2017 the correlation to scoring average (the main metric used to determine how good your season was) was 12% for accuracy and 44% for distance. That's just plain bonkers and is pandering to an ever-growing American golfing public that wants beer, birdies and inane whoops and hollers as the ball is launched into the stratosphere. 

"The most challenging aspect of golf is eroding and that erosion needs to stop"

That's not golf where I come from and the Ryder Cup this year was the perfect example of, yes, reward players who hit it a country mile BUT the penalty for missing a fairway is a proper PENALTY! Brandel is right, If it keeps going like this we might as well be watching the ReMax long driving events for our weekly golf fix!

Thank you for reading and I will talk to you all on Friday!


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