Whilst listening to a podcast walking my dog, earlier this week, I was reminded about a book I read over 10 years ago, called Zen Golf by Dr Joseph Parent. This book took me on a wonderful journey exploring alternative ways to help improve performance. Dr Joe who has trained in Buddhism for over 40 years, uses his philosophy in a variety of sports to help quieten the mind and improve performance. At the heart of his teaching he focuses on being aware of where your attention is. All too often our minds are racing away, thinking about what can happen or reliving the shot just played. For many golfers it can also include thinking about the mechanics of a shot and where to position hands, alignment, swing path etc. With so much activity going in the brain, it should come as no surprise to find our mind overloaded and confused on what to do. I've recently also come across some interesting work called fluid motion by Steven Yellin, that also resonates with Dr Joe's concepts except he adopts a more scientific approach. His research has found that when we have analytical thoughts during a golf swing this interferes with our ability to play well. The reason being that we activate the front part of the brain called the Pre-frontal Cortex (PFC). When this is activated it interferes with the brain's signals to our large twitch muscles which control our swing. This explains why when we take a practice swing its easy and fluid, compared to a swing in competition where our analytical thoughts kick in and affect our swing. To replicate the easy fluid swing, we need to quieten the PFC part of the brain and instead activate the Motor Sensory Skills which reside in the back of the brain. This can be achieved in a variety of ways. If you follow Dr Joe he uses slow, deep breathing techniques which I've written blogs on in the past. I can personally endorse this method, having managed to great results myself using this technique. If you would like to experience the more scientific approach of Steve Yellin, you need to use abstract thoughts instead of analytical ones. An example would be set up to the ball, take your swing and as you follow through, at the end of the swing picture the expression on your face. Focusing on your facial expression, prevents analytical thoughts occurring, which quietens the mind. Abstract thoughts will allow the brain to then connect with the motor sensory skills to give you a free flowing swing. Give it a go this weekend and let me know how you get on. If your would like more information on these techniques please contact me to arrange a session
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