Own Your Focus

Perform your best, practice some of Dan Martin's, PGA, favorite focus exercises

Labels: Full SwingExercises

Your focus is your most precious asset when playing golf. If you want to perform your best, you need to give every shot you hit your full attention! This means you have to focus at your best ability. What many golfers don't understand is that focus is a skill, and it needs to be practiced.

What does that mean? Well, working on your ability to focus doesn't mean practicing your ability to think more or how to think more intensely. In reality, better focus is more about quieting the mind and "sensing" or "allowing" more to happen. A lack of clear focusing ability is one of the main reasons why consistency is so hard to achieve in golf. If your attention is constantly distracted or you're trying too hard to think your way through a golf swing, then your scores will reflect a lack of focus, as well.

The number-one rule about any focus exercise is that it keeps you completely engaged through one or two of your senses for the entire swing, from beginning to end. One of the most common errors I see with regard to this is when a student anticipates too much. As golfers, it's common for us to anticipate the result of whatever swing or stroke we make. But when this happens incessantly, the mind races ahead of the present and all hell breaks loose! Good swings require that the conscious mind stays quiet or occupied on something that's in the present during the entire motion. In fact, this is an unwritten law of superior athletic performance. All great athletes are able to get themselves in the present during their performances. The challenge with golf is that each performance is separated by a fairly lengthy time and you have to initiate the motion. You don't get to react to something or someone moving toward you like you do in most sports.

Here are some of my favorite focus exercises that you can practice on the range, and even better, on the course. Several of these exercises are from the likes of some of the best golf instructors in the industry: Fred Shoemaker, Lynn Marriott and Pia Nilsson, and Timothy Gallwey. All of them have been instrumental influences in my teaching and have great books that every golfer should read!

Balance is a nonnegotiable fundamental. Doing these simple, but very effective exercises will help you improve your stability during a swing and learn to swing without a mind full of bad swing thoughts. Focusing on balance easily distracts your conscious mind from worrying about too many things during the swing. It's also a great way to get loose, both physically and mentally.

To get started on developing a better kinesthetic awareness (feel), try and make a few swings (with or without a ball, that's your choice) with your feet together. Swing easy, then make full-speed swings, and keep at it until you're able to hold your balance. Next, do the same thing, but on your right foot. Then, do it on your left foot. Finally, finish making some golf swings with your eyes closed. The goal is to develop a feel for your swing's balance and let go of result-oriented thinking.

Start this drill with the feet together, making at least five swings.

Do the same here, and make five or more swings off your right leg.

Again! But now make some swings off your left leg.

Finally, close your eyes and swing five times! I like this drill without a ball, but you can use one if you'd like.

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