Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Why carpet swinging doesn't work

The scene: Ohio in the dead of winter. The setting: you, in your living room, 7 iron in hand, the Mercedes Championship on the tube. Your thought process: I'm going to fix my swing, here, in this room, with Joe Durant (and who doesn't know who Joe Durant is!) hitting his drive on #17 in the Mercedes, while all my golf opponents, nay, soon-to-be-embarrased golf buddies lay on their couches watching football like hibernating, drunken bears.

You make some swings with your trusty 7 iron, and damn it, it feels good. Maybe this is the swing, the one which could, after years and years of struggle, do some damage on the course, when, in the three months, the ice sheet that is Ohio in winter recedes, exposing the compacted earth of Spring.

Fast forward: the scene: the ice sheet has receded back to the Arctic Circle, and you're at your first golf outing. Birds fritter here and there, butterflies dance through the air and you are a golfing god. After talking shit to, at the very least, yourself (and hopefully not anyone else, especially the actual good players in your group) you mosey up to the tee, fully confident that the swing you worked on so hard in the living room over the past months is going to deliver not only a hell of a shot, but the shot of the group. And here's where you can guess the rest. The shot sucks, your wee-wee shrivels up into a fleshy ball of humiliation, and you crawl back to the cart, hoping not to disturb, or otherwise be noticed by your playing partners.

How did this happen? How did all your hard work turn into so much insubstantial fluff? It's very simple to answer that question, but it ain't pretty, and, in our world of egoism, not easy to accept, but it's all about the power of the mind to delude it's user.

And the cure is even harder to accept, but here goes: accept that you suck. That's right, you suck, and there isn't any getting around it. You can buy every swing aid in the world and use them in your winter training facility--the living room--until your head bursts with confidence. Once on the actual tee, the only place where you can really judge your skill, you will revert to whatever skill level you had before all the practice, and your mind will say, "Oh, right, this is how I play golf, and not how I kidded myself all winter long."

Instead of wasting time swinging that 7 iron in the living room, try this
instead. "How can visualizing my swing be better than actually making a swing?" you ask, ever vigilant reader. The difference is that when you practice your swing in your head, as far as your head is concerned, you're really doing it. But when you swing away in the house, you're really making fake swings; that is, swings which aren't hitting a ball, and therefore give you no feedback as to what you're doing right or wrong. The visualized swing, however, hits the ball perfect every time, which, contrary to conventional thinking, is the best practice any of us could have. Here's a little experiment you can try. For one week, do your normal practice routine. Go to the range, pound your 50 or 100 balls as often as you normally do (and if you want to really test this out, go ahead and throw in a few extra sessions) and play your normal round that weekend. For the next week, ditch your normal routine, and instead try this: plunk down in a comfortable chair, close your eyes, and visualize 50 perfects shots. Take about 15 minutes to do all 50 shots, then open your eyes and go on about your business. Then go play your usual weekend round, and compare the results.

Now if your read this paragraph, you'll invalidate the results of the experiment because it suggests a possible outcome. The single blind will have been violated. Egads! But, if you don't play better after the second week than the first, I'll eat my

3 comments:

Best Buy said...

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