You’re out on the course swatting at the ball every which way but straight. Your mind wonders a bit and you hear these words:
“Trust your swing!”
Have you heard this before?
Or maybe you’re watching a round of golf on TV and the announcers discuss how the player hit the ball poorly because she “didn’t trust her swing?”
What does it mean to ‘trust your swing’?
Trust is a big part of sports. Learning to trust yourself is a big part of reaching your goals.
I have received a question related to this simple phrase and how one can be more decisive leading to less tension and improving ball striking. Allow me to help you Trust Your Swing. (Thank you J. Carreon for your question).
My definition: Trust is the firm belief in the ability to suspend any judgment of the swing by not thinking about it or the mechanics during the execution of the shot. But how can we do this when we stand on the range thinking only mechanics and trying to hit the ball as solid and ‘perfect’ as possible?
Too much thinking about your mechanics during practice will only make this type of thinking a habit. This habit will then bleed into your game on the course and lead to frustration. Like any habit you have formed, it is very hard to simply to turn off.
To trust your swing also means you need to not think about the outcome of the shot: where the shot may or may not go, your score, or how you feel about mistakes on the course.
Our biggest hurdle in golf is to overcome our own expectations of grandeur, which can negatively affect our behavior and not allow us to really trust our swing.
In other words, we have way too much going on in our head to actually take a relaxed and trusted swing.
How to Trust Your Swing
While playing collegiate golf, I was having a hard time putting my finger on what was missing in my game as I watched countless players pass me to win tournaments I was in contention to win.
Why were they winning and not me?
I happen to be sitting next to Sam Carmichael, the Women’s Golf Coach for Indiana University, and we talked about trusting one’s swing. He was very frank and gave me a very simple answer: stay target focused and ‘see’ the ball traveling exactly to your intended target. One swing thought to trigger the swing and away you go. I took what he said and it turned around the way I approached practice and tournament play.
It is time for you to take control of your swing and trust that the swing you are taking to the first tee is free from extracurricular thoughts. Here are a couple things you can do to set yourself up to ‘trust you swing’ which I learned from that day with Coach Carmichael:
1 – While in the range, focus your attention on a specific target. This will allow you to stay in the present moment and reduce multiple swing thoughts speeding through your brain. Find a tree, spot or area to aim at or land the ball on with your ‘bread and butter club’ (your favorite club). Really stare down this target and see the ball going there exactly the way you want. Utilizing your ‘go to’ club improves your overall confidence by practicing target focus.
Result: Less focus on mechanics and more focus on the target resulting in trusting your swing.
2 – While playing on the course with your buddies, remind yourself that you have the exact swing you need this day to play your very best. Better yet, remind yourself on the range, in your car, before you go to bed, that you have the skill set to exceed your golfing goals.
Result: Simply telling yourself over and over something positive (positive self-talk) will allow you to change the way you think creating a trusting environment to relax and trust in your swing.
3 – While you are on the range, practice playing the course and being decisive when you pull a club. In other words, have fun playing each shot on your favorite course right there on the range. Start from the first tee to the last shot onto the 18th green and all the while practicing making a club decision and sticking to it (no second guessing).
Result: You will lower your stress level because your brain will have practiced being decisive and trusting the swing before you ever tee it up.
4 – Keep the ‘waggles’ down to a minimum. Find one key ‘trigger’ to start the swing and let it go. For me, I simply kick my knee in and that tells my brain it’s ‘go-time.’Result: You will create a positive habit that will enable you to swing more freely and with improved trust.
How These Techniques Help Me
After my chat with Coach Carmichael, I practiced better positive self talk, more intense focus on my intended target on the range, and found joy in playing my favorite golf courses and holes on the range. After really working hard and implementing these techniques into my everyday habits, I found myself trusting my swing more often than not and became a multiple winner at the collegiate level and beyond.
Utilizing these ideas and truly believing in them will help you change your previous habits and trust your swing. Remember, if your mind gets in the way of your body, your performance will suffer, so trust in your preparation and you’ll see the results.
This is my love–The Mental Game– and I could talk about it for hours. I tried to keep it simple and to the point. Too much info can lead to overload.
Let us know at Bunkers Paradise how these techniques work for you and please share any thoughts or ideas you have with regards to ‘Trusting Your Swing.’ We welcome your feedback and ideas because we are all about helping the golfing community reach their golfing goals.
‘keep smiling and always believe’