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Chi-Power Golf Part 12 - Breathing - the secret of Fluid Motion

Many of the golfers I work with are extremely talented but have difficulty executing their ability when it really counts in competition (sound familiar?). While they are able to hit the ball very well on the range and hole out with confidence on the putting green, the ability to play with that same fluidity is all but lost when the pressure is on because they are unable to experience a crucial process in the brain as effectively as those players of world-class status.

Simply put, they are unable to stop thinking and this self-interference is responsible for all the anger, turmoil, tears and frustration experienced right now by literally millions of golfers around the world who sabotage their own best efforts around the course, as they violate the basic laws of how the brain best produces fluid motion in sport.

The following neurophysiologic description about how fluid motion occurs in sports comes from Dr Fred Travis, Director of the Centre for Brain, Consciousness and Cognition at the Maharishi University in the US. For over 2 decades Dr Travis has been studying how meditation affects the brain waves of world-class athletes, researching the relationship between successful athletic performance and brain wave function.

‘The Pre-Frontal Cortex (PFC) is the CEO of the brain, responsible for looking at all the thinking processes that occur and making sure that things run smoothly. When first learning a complex motion – like the golf swing – the PFC is largely responsible for taking in and analysing information and helping the muscles of the body execute the motion that is being learned.

However, another part of the brain – the Motor System (MS) – takes over when the motion has been learned and repeated thousands of times (i.e. all those hours out on the range honing your swing!). In order to execute a world-class swing, or make a putt when under the pressure of competition, the signal about the motion must go directly to the MS, by-passing the PFC otherwise the motion will be neither fluid nor effortless nor effective.

This is a process that happens automatically. World-class players do not know they are sending signals directly to the MS, nor do they necessarily know that are switching off the PFC – but they do know how to minimise self-interference and allow the brain and body to communicate with each other effectively, without getting in their own way.

Recently I met up with a coach who’d done some work with New Zealand’s Michael Campbell. As we swapped details about our individual coaching methods, I learned that Campbell said the major lesson he received from Tiger Woods was to focus on his breathing pattern while on the tee, coming down the fairway, pitching to the green and, indeed, when putting.

The reason this is so beneficial is that focusing on the breath stops you thinking too much, thus allowing signals about the execution of motion to go directly to the MS.

Meditation, the Eastern art of focusing on the breath, is the fundamental process every golfer should master, as it has been proven to reduce activity in the PFC shutting down this over-active part of the brain and negating much of the internal dialogue.

Research shows that the regular practise of Meditation has the effect of shutting down the part of the brain which processes and analyses information, and this is crucial when you want to perform a fluid yet powerful shot.

To learn more about Chi-Power Golf, visit where you can find out about personal tuition, talks and workshops, and also sign up for a free newsletter, "The Mindful Golfer".

To contact Jayne Storey, ring 07986 447250

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

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