If you have read some of the previous posts, you will have noted some references to both the conscious and unconscious/subconscious mind and the relevance they have in the learning process. The subconscious is responsible for about 90% of everything we do like controlling heartbeat, breathing, blood pressure, producing cells, digestion and millions of other processes that are happening on a daily basis. The conscious mind can control decision making, thoughts, actions and emotions with some cross over to the subconscious tasks like for example, breathing. You have been breathing naturally as you have been reading this (unconsciously) but you have the ability to influence this by holding your breath or speeding up or slowing this process down.
When playing Golf this relationship and ability for the conscious mind to control some unconscious actions can be both beneficial and detrimental to the ability to perform to the best of ones ability depending on how that person is thinking. When I started with the World Golfing Teachers Federation, my eyes were opened to this concept which was identified and written about by Tim Galloway, which was a motivator for me to learn more on how the brain works. Tim identified that every person is both a self 1 (conscious) and self 2 (subconscious/physical body). When the body is able to unconsciously carry out a task but the conscious mind makes a decision, has self doubt, try’s, controls a part of the action, this generally leads to under performance or choking, especially when pressure is added to the task. Any conscious thought that impacts on an unconscious action is referred to as “Interference”.
I have given some inner game experiences with almost instant improvements and some feedback comments of “I’ve never swing the club so easy and hit the ball so far”, “I hit that ball perfectly”, “it cant be this easy” and “this is like voodoo”. The experience consists of distracting the conscious mind from interfering with the body’s natural ability. Much like a free throw in basketball, they merely look at a specific point on the board and react to it. There is no conscious thought of, I have to get my hand close to my shoulder and as I raise my arm I have to contract my tricep and relax my bicep, timed with the release of the wrist and support of the fingers. You could not think of all that as the shot would have left your hand before you were finished. The Self 2 knows how to do the task better and faster than you can actually think of doing it. This is what we must tap into when playing golf and why most coaches will only allow 1 swing thought during a round.
The benefits of this approach is that we get to see what your authentic swing, tempo and timing looks like with no interfering thoughts impacting on your natural ability. At this point we can see how your body is moving during the swing which when complimented with a TPI (Titleist performance Institute) assessment which identifies any limitations you may have in Flexibility, stability and mobility, we can hone in on the specific areas which will maximize your swing potential based on how your body is naturally moving.
To give you an idea of this experience, take a glove, a tee and a ball marker out of your bag, place a bin or something that you can throw into about 6 feet away. Notice what you do when you throw each one into the bin, what were your interfering/movement controlling thoughts? did you think of mechanics, release point and positions of the arm? did you think about switching from over hand and underhand depending on the object? did you calculate the arc of the throw in order to clear the front lip? Or did you trust your natural ability, look at the target, let your subconscious make all the calculations based of the experience you have, trusted and committed to it?
When we can apply this concept to your golf game, shots become instinctive, trust and confidence increases, tension dissipates and commitment to each shot becomes your dominant habit. This comes back to “focus more” on what you can control of “ Focus More Care Less” and the scores will then look after themselves.