Psyched Online

Question to the Sports Psychologist

Question: I consistently over swinging in my golf game. I don’t understand why. I say to myself, “Easy does it!” I try to ease up. I really do. Then I take a swing at the ball. Like a Greek chorus, my partners sing out “I’m swinging too hard.” It just doesn’t feel possible. One day I got a little paranoid. I began to think that they are just trying to drive me nuts. It didn’t feel possible that I could swing any easier. I tried to visualize my club going back softly and returning to the ball with no effort. And still the chorus sings out the same song. My performance is so inconsistent. I walk around the course thinking to myself and talking out loud. This is not fun. I’m running out of patience. I already told my pals, “If I hear another chorus of I’m swing to hard, I’m going to bend my club around someone’s cranium as well as the game. I take a swing and wait for the singing to begin. Everyone sees it differently than I experience it. I even went to a pro at a local golf club. Ten lessons later, he wanted to quit the business (kidding). He couldn’t get me to slow down and ease up. He even held my arms and swung them for me without a club in my hand. So, I came across your blog and I figure you are a sport psychologist. Maybe you have an idea. Maybe you can help me attach my body to my mind in a way that will improve my swing and my athletic performance. Any ideas?

Answer by Paul Schienberg, PhD: Well yes. Here is a thought. Trust your clubs! Somewhere inside your neurological system may exist a belief that unless you swing hard, muscle your shots, swing with a lot of club speed through the ball, you will not get the results you fantasize about. Most of us played baseball as a kid…swung the bat from our heels, as hard as we could and watched the baseball fly over the fence. Or, maybe we watched golf on TV and began to believe that swinging like Tiger Woods would get us his results. I’m suggesting that instead of your body working so hard, let the clubs do the work for you. They were designed by people who know how to build a club that would get the ball where it was intended to go. Try the following mantra: let my club take my ball where I want it to go. Whether it is a driver, long or short iron, or sand-wedge, they are designed correctly. Don’t try to make it happen. Be easy with it. Feel the flow of your body and arms – not the speed of their movements. When we don’t trust our clubs, we put too much effort into our swing. It is the appreciation of the ability already built into those clubs that will make it work. The smooth, tender and sensitive relationship to each club that lets them work as they are designed to work. By the way, it is interesting to watch some women play on the same golf course. They are less likely to fall into the mistake of over-swinging. They don’t think of killing the ball, but they often let their club do the job it was built to do. Do not worry. Your mind is attached to your body. It needs to send a belief message to your body that creates a harmonious relationship – not an over-powering one.