1 – You must let your subconscious mind move your body
We don’t move consciously. As a baby develops, there are various stages it naturally goes through as part of its development from new-born, to toddler, to child. As it goes through each stage movement patterns become hard-wired in the brain, allowing the baby as it becomes a child to move easily and quickly through all the basic patterns such as walking, squatting, pulling, pushing, twisting and climbing.
Now think of this: in each of these patterns the brain is running the show and recruiting various muscles, tendons, joints and nerves to get the desired job done. Consciously we have no idea what is going on, and thank goodness we don’t need to as our subconscious mind can run all of this and many other things at the same time.
Imagine trying to teach your baby to walk. If you were to do the job properly, imagine the level of detail you would have to give! I doubt your baby would ever get off the ground, being paralysed from information overload!
So if I was going to produce a successful method of coaching linking mind and body, it had to hand the movement of the body over to the unconscious mind and take it away from what in most cases is an overactive conscious mind.
2 – The conscious mind must focus on just one thing
Your conscious mind can only focus 100% on one thing at a time. Now of course you can consciously pay attention to more than one thing at a time, but how does that affect your focus? And is that the type of focus that is optimum for the golf swing? Think of times when you are keeping one eye on the TV while holding a phone conversation; you wont be 100% aware of both! I am proposing that when hitting the golf ball we want a presence of mind that comes from focusing on one thing only.
3 – You must see the golf swing as one whole, not several parts
The right side of your brain learns 1000 times faster than the left side of your brain!
You may not realise it but your brain thinks in pictures. For example, if I ask you to think about your house your brain starts to picture your house, as a whole; it doesn’t spell out the word “H..O..U..S..E”. Yet this is often how the golf swing is taught and received by eager students!
We don’t successfully learn any natural movement by breaking it down. Imagine teaching a child to throw and stopping them every time they drew their arm back and said “Now go away and get this right; then we can look at the forward movement next week!!” Their intuition tells them to learn the whole thing together, and through trial-and-error they will increase their success.
In the same way it would be a disaster to coach a toddler to learn the movement for their left leg before allowing them to introduce the right leg in their walking action! I am sure you get the idea. So if I was going to produce a successful method of coaching linking mind and body it must engage the right side of the brain and keep the student focused on the whole and not the parts.
4 – The swing concept must be easy to relate to
We learn with metaphors, relating one thing we understand to something we don’t. It was important to have a concept the human mind was familiar with and could relate to during all stages of developing the golf swing. I wanted something that could always be used as the basis to answer all technical questions yet keep it in line with the way the brain works.
5– The swing produced should favour flexibility over consistency
I know initially that statement may be surprising, particularly as one of the most common answers golfers give to what they would like from instruction is a consistent swing. But think of this; how many times in play are you faced with exactly the same shot? NEVER! Even if you think the yardage is the same to the same flag you had yesterday, even one minute ago the environment has changed just by the time delay! Successful golf requires the ability to play a multitude of shots from a multitude of positions; one swing just won’t cut it.
I am quick to ask young golfers striving to perfect their swing, “So what shot will your swing produce when you perfect it?” The answer might be a “draw”. “So what will you do when you need to hit a low fade from a lie with the ball above your feet?”, I respond. After the look of confusion and the silence that normally follows, I continue. “Anyway, how often in a game of golf will you get to use this exact swing you are trying to perfect?”
I don’t mean to be cynical in this situation, just shocking to get the player to stop and think; ‘Is what I am doing the most productive use of my time?’ Very quickly the player realises that the playing of golf is an art. When they are engaged and feeling the shot in front of them, they are making subtle yet profound adjustments to their technique to pull off the shot required, and therefore every swing and shot is unique. True perfection is in being flexible to this, NOT rigid to one technique!! Therefore if my quest to link the mind and body was to be successful my approach must have a clear concept that would give feedback to the player as well as a model that was easy to be flexible from.
6– Mother Nature exists in every swing; therefore each person’s swing should be uniquely different
Albert Einstein said: “imitation is suicide and envy is ignorance!” Your emotions; personality; beliefs and physical body will play a part in the style of swing you own. Please note this will be true even if you try to copy someone else’s or follow their approach or swing model. And thank goodness this is the case, as your journey is to be all you can, not all someone else is!
So although it was my aim to create a model that was repeatable, in coaching it there had to be space for the learners to be themselves in the areas mentioned above.
7 – It must flow!
In all that works effectively there is a natural flow. In the context of the golf swing it has been said that rhythm can hide a multitude of sins, much like other things such as music; an orchestra may miss the odd note, but if they keep playing it is masked by the overall flow/rhythm.
Another word for rhythm is energy. When energy flows rather than being stuck or stifled it becomes the glue that bonds the ‘whole’ together, often creating a masterpiece out of ‘imperfections!’ Therefore if I was going to produce a successful method of linking mind and body it must be a model that encouraged the energy to flow and not get stuck.
So these were the seven basic rules my model had to abide by, each one linking with the others. Out of these rules I have developed various lessons and approaches that have helped golfers improve their performance. Over the following pages I will go through the approach I would use for coaching The CGA Circle. Within this overall approach are various mini lessons, often in themselves enough to see significant improvement. If a particular idea stands out to you as being more meaningful, start here for your own golf, but remember each is valuable at different times. Keep referring back to this section from time to time to get new insights.