Phases Of Golf Swing
A skilled golf swing is a movement done with a minimum of conscious thought. Psychologists offer a learning model for the four phases to acquiring any skill. Here are the phases of golf swing:
1. Unconscious Incompetent: you don't know anything about golf or a good golf swing.
2. Conscious Incompetent: you know what a good swing looks like but you cannot do it.
3. Conscious Competent: you develop a good swing but you have to think about it.
4. Unconscious Competent: your swing now becomes "natural."
You can trace Tiger Woods' swing development through these four stages. At age one or earlier, he knew nothing about golf. Then his Dad showed him a good swing. Tiger knew what it looked like but could not consistently do it. He began to develop a good swing as his Dad reminded him of the key aspects. Still in stage 3, Tiger had to think about what his Dad told him. Finally he did not have to think about his swing and at age two, Tiger was able to demonstrate his "natural" swing on national TV.
Most golf experts would agree that a good golf swing is far from a "natural" physical movement. Jack Nicklaus, at age 10, became painfully conscious of keeping his head steady. Jack Grout, Nicklaus' first professional instructor, grabbed young Jack by his curly blond hair and had Jack hit balls for hours, until Jack cried. Nicklaus always remembers that instruction as he became conscious of a steady head. This aspect of Nicklaus' swing finally became unconscious to him and it appeared "natural." Both outstanding golfers are "unconsciously competent" but they can critique themselves whenever such is needed.
Like Tiger and Jack, you too can improve your golf swing. Here are the three simple rules you must follow:
1. Consciously present your mind with the aspect you want to improve. You may have read about this aspect. Your Instructor or Pro may have suggested this aspect. "Keep your left arm straight." "Keep your head steady." "Shift to the right or shift to the left." "Maintain your spine angle." Whatever the aspect is, your mind MUST have a mental picture of how this aspect looks.
2. Train your body to consciously perform this aspect and this aspect only, until the movement becomes unconscious.
3. Let your swing DO IT as you think only about the objective; i.e. where the shot will land.
It sounds simple and it is. The difficulty with Rule No. 2, is that unfortunately, it takes time. The further away from age two or ten, the more difficult it is for our bodies to develop the motor memory to ingrain different aspects into one's swing. But it can be done. Constant reminders from our Pro or instructor or the use of a training aid that focuses on that aspect you want to acquire will be needed. As Tiger Woods admits: "my swing is a constant work in progress." Focus on that aspect you want to acquire and you will DO IT.
Bob Doyle is the founder and president of Forever Better Golf Inc. a golf equipment and training aid company dedicated to helping all golfers improve their swings and lower their scores. Their flagship product is the PRO-HEAD Trainer, a full swing training aid that helps golfers maintain their spine angles and keep their heads back and behind the ball through impact. To see the PRO-HEAD Golf Swing Trainer in use and take the 60 second challenge.
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