A recent study by the folks at St. Andrews University has found that thinking and talking too much between shots can be detrimental to your score. Here’s what was reported on the Nine MSN website:

Golfers should not think or talk too much about their swing between shots as it can seriously disrupt their technique, according to a study published on Friday.

Psychologists at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, renowned as the home of golf, said the problem is particularly acute for more experienced golfers, and can be triggered simply by talking about a shot.

“It’s a fairly common wisdom in sport that ‘thinking too much’ hurts performance; during a game it can be an obvious distraction,” said Professor Michael Anderson.

“However what we found surprising is that simply describing one’s putting skill after it has been executed, can be incredibly disruptive to future putting performance.

“In skilled performers particularly, we found that describing their skill simply impaired its retention.”

The researchers asked 80 novice and experienced golfers to practise a particular putting shot, until they got it right three times in a row, and then spend five minutes describing what they did.

The golfers were then asked to try the same shot again – and the study showed they took twice as many attempts to sink the putt as players who had spent five minutes doing something else.

“This effect was especially dramatic in skilled golfers who were reduced to the level of performance of novices after just five minutes of describing what they did,” said Anderson.

“Novices, by contrast, were largely unaffected, and perhaps even helped a little, by verbally describing their movements.”

The researchers said they believed the loss of performance is due to an effect called “verbal overshadowing”, which makes the brain focus more on language than on the cerebral systems that support the golf-playing skill.

“Other related studies on verbal overshadowing shows that if people have extensive experience trying to articulate their perceptual experiences, performance goes unharmed,” he explained.

“So, to the extent that golf pros have extensively practised talking about their skill, they might be less susceptible to it harming performance.”

Here’s my take:

Talking and thinking requires a different mindset than what is required to play great golf. Although we’d like to think we can consciously control our golf game through thought and speech, I don’t think it’s possible. Over thinking disrupts the natural learning cycle and makes golf harder than it needs to be.

Automatic playing overcomes the problem. It gives you the ability to control your mind and allow your natural and instinctive game to shine through.

Traditional instruction is well entrenched, but it’s good that there is proof that over thinking and analysis is NOT good for your game. I doubt mainstream instruction will change its way. To play automatic golf requires you make the change – you’re unlikely to hear any golf professional tell you to think less and play more. The choice is yours.

And finally, if the research showed skilled golfers were unable to improve their putting game by analysis, what chance have we got to make our full swing better?

If you’d like to learn a comprehensive way of playing automatically and reducing internal noise and chatter, please check out my E-book, Play Golf Your Way, how to find your natural game.

Comment using Facebook

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field