Brain vs Body Breakthrough
“So, I have to see you for a few weeks to work on my flexibility and getting me stronger and I should start hitting it better, right?” It may come as a pleasant surprise that some of the quicker and more dramatic breakthroughs that players observe in creating better impact don’t necessarily come from spending weeks in the gym. Although dynamics such as strength and flexibility can without question help with better ball striking, a simple shift in bodily consciousness is usually the first and largest step in helping a player achieve dynamic impact.
Mindfulness and awareness are the two words that you will hear me most often use in our biomechanical assessment at Impact Zone Golf. Now, this is not because I’m unconcerned with things like strength, mobility or balance, but instead, we need to first establish what kind of connection there is from brain to muscle so that the player can truly notice the correct muscle groups being active or inactive in any given swing. The reason for many of the drills or stretches I introduce to players is because I am more looking for their “Ah ha!” moment or mental breakthrough in achieving the desired feel before we even start thinking about the physical breakthroughs that will occur after spending a few weeks in the gym.
For instance, we all know that our legs are generally the strongest and most stable area of our golf bodies, but, ask any given player to describe exactly what happened from their pelvis down in their swing and that’s when you will start to get blank stares in return. All day long, they will tell me about their shoulder turn, or what they felt happen with the club, yet lower body awareness lacks notoriously. With the golf swing being somewhat of an unnatural movement compared to tossing an object underhand, golfers commonly focus heavily on their hands, arms and the club. An easy example of a confused kinetic sequence would be the dreaded “reverse pivot” where the player’s weight is unknowingly transitioning away from the ball at impact. Rarely do you see a more familiar motion, such as an underhand toss, where the person’s weight confusedly moves away from their target, instead of their lower body naturally initiating the kinetic sequence and moving towards the target.
It’s the responses of, “I’ve never felt for that in my swing before” that are the mental breakthroughs that can often lead to a rapid change in creating better impact. Although it may not be a strong or consistent motion at first, the player at least now has a new feel to be replicated in practice swings, drills, and exercises.
Using the few seconds you hold your finish position after each shot to assess what you felt happen in your swing is a great way to start building a mindfulness of your golf body. If anything, have 3 focus areas maximum that you diagnose after each swing, whether it was your balance, transition, lag, load, etc. Ask yourself how you felt you performed, then go back and if possible review video of your swing.
Don’t let the thought of working towards a breakthrough in your game be a daunting task that you think only happens after hours at the range or weeks in the gym. Instead, treat every shot as a chance to collect information, practice mindfulness of your golf body, and in the words of the late Jim Morrison…
Break on through to the other side.