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Chi-Power Golf Part 23 - Bringing mind and body together

All motion originates in the mind – with your swing being the result of the relationship between your mind and body before you take your shot. Golfers and other athletes rarely analyse the quality of their motion by the quality of their non-motion but this is exactly where you need to focus your attention if you want to be more consistent and produce more of those perfect shots

Research shows a direct correlation between peak performance and the ability to relax.

Counter-intuitive as it may seem, the more you try to execute the perfect swing or putt, the less able your body is to produce a fluid motion. The science behind this is simple. When you over-think, the pre-frontal cortex captures and analyses the signal, interrupting the flow of time by holding up the signals to your motor-system, thus making your efforts clumsy. This is why golfers who may excel on the practice range and who understand the fundamentals of technique often fail to perform their best around the course, particularly in competition.

I’m sure many of you have experienced examples of the ‘perfect swing’ and have enjoyed the feeling of the fluid, effortless shots you’ve hit when your mind and body are in ‘sync’. These are times when you cease to dialogue with yourself about your performance and play golf “in the zone”, swinging freely without getting in your own way.

Mind the Gap

If we deconstruct this experience we see that the state of relaxed readiness, without over-trying or overthinking, allows you to commit to the shot with confidence and the feeling of effortlessness all golfers mention when describing their experience of hitting it pure.

So, where’s the blueprint for this “in the zone” ability? Well, think of the Eastern approach (Zen) in which practitioners exhibit a quality of mindfulness before the sword or bow and arrow is drawn, before the punch is thrown.

Now imagine a more Zen approach to your own golf, not as a philosophy but as a series of actions you perform before you swing to get centred, quieten your mind and relax your body – just as the karate or kung-fu expert pause to gather mind and body before action.

Playing in the Now

“One shot at a time, one hole at a time, one breath at a time” is a mantra ringing in the ears of the golfers I’ve worked with as I seek to emphasize the importance of being “in the now” – retaining the attitude of quiet concentration and a neutral emotional state.

This quality of mindfulness can and should be applied each time you prepare yourself to take a shot, as it is the relationship between your mind and body in the gap that precedes motion that determines the quality and outcome of your swing. Psychologists have identified the “now” experience as being approximately 12 seconds long – that’s 12 seconds in which you can focus completely on the present, giving your undivided attention to the task in hand. It’s made for golfers really, isn’t it? 10 seconds to bring mind and body together at address and 2 seconds to execute the perfect swing. Let’s do that together now:

12 Seconds of Zen

Practice at home or on the range to get your timing right and/or come along and see me to develop a more seamless transition between stillness and motion.

* At address, allow yourself 10 seconds to prepare for the shot and 2 seconds to swing using the following actions to achieve a state of relaxed yet alert readiness.

* Relax your chest, sink your awareness to your navel area (centre of gravity) and sink your weight into your footprints. Each of these subtle, internal actions are performed sequentially with the aid of a few deep breaths. Remember those old Brue Lee movies in which he would seem to compress himself into the ground before exploding with his famous one-inch punch? Well this is what you’re aiming at, noticing that as you focus on your body and breathing your internal dialogue ceases and your mind becomes quiet as a result.

* Now take your Zen approach into your swing with the following karate/kung-fu essentials which helps deliver at least 15-20% more energy through the target. Simply inhale as you take the club away slowly…then breathe out as you hit down from the top and through the ball. If you can discipline your mind and body to master the 12 second gap you’ll play a more consistent game and hit more quality shots.

To learn more about Chi-Power Golf, visit www.chipowergolf.com 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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