Pull The Trigger

Great swings begin with great starts

Pull The TriggerMany of my new students ask me about how to correctly initiate the golf swing. They want to know what trigger will allow them to start their motions smoothly and on the correct path. This common question comes from those who suffer from a condition that plagues everyone, from novices to touring professionals. I like to call it “paralysis by analysis.” We’ve all experienced those moments when we just don’t feel comfortable over the ball, and the longer we think about it, the more we freeze up, almost to the point where making a natural golf swing seems as foreign to you as a ’40s French independent film. You tighten up. You get nervous. You think to yourself, I hope this goes straight, and subsequently try to guide the ball down the fairway, which we all know rarely works. Then it gets ugly. Does this sound familiar? If so, be ready. We’re going to pull the trigger on paralysis by analysis and shoot it away forever. Here’s where you’ll learn a few mental tips and physical motions that show you how to organize your thoughts and swing routine for a smooth and timely execution of all your golf shots. It begins with prioritizing your way of thinking and ends with continually staying loose.

Step 1.  Prioritize Your Way Of Thinking
Ask yourself the following questions before you address the ball.

1. Where do I want to hit the ball (be specific—middle of the green, back side, right side)?

2. What kind of lie do I have?

3. What’s the probable trajectory that I’ll get from this lie?

4. Have I practiced this situation before? Do I know how to play this shot?

5. If the answer to #4 is no, then choose an option that you do know well, even if it means playing for par and not pushing your luck for a birdie.

6. Once convinced of your course of action, go ahead and take the appropriate club and make one or two practice swings.

7. Lastly, knowing that you’re committed, address the ball, take one last look and pull the trigger!

If you freeze at address, you’ll have a hard time keeping things smooth and working together. The key is to be prepared for the many different scenarios you’ll encounter on the golf course and rehearse them on the range, integrating the priority list I referred to earlier. The human central nervous system is the most incredible system in the universe as far as we know. Give it a nice picture that is realistic for your ability and let that lead to a well-rehearsed, stored sensation. Apply this sensation to the shot using a trigger that fits you, and presto! This is what leads to great shots. As far as finding a trigger for your full swing is concerned, look at some of your favorite players on Tour and you’ll see a variety of routines that have the same goal. Championship-level golfers all want to be able to swing the club with the best possible timing and tempo for optimal results. Athough your game may not be ready for competitive golf at the highest level, your demands should be the same.

Prioritize my thinking? If only pulling the trigger was that easy! To be frank, the solution isn’t a matter of thought, though the pre-shot plan of attack is a critical component of prepping the mind and body for the task at hand. Instead, it’s a matter of maintaining a continuous motion, from the time you step into your stance to the time you’re holding your finish.

A fine example of continuous motion is a tennis player waiting to return a serve or an infielder anticipating a line drive. Those athletes often are in constant motion, either twirling the racket, slapping their glove, or gently swaying from side to side. They maintain this constant motion in order to activate their brain’s pyramidal system. The pyramidal system in the brain allows information to be passed directly from the eyes through the brain and into the central nervous system without excessive thought processing, thus allowing athletes to tap into their instinctual reactions to their present surroundings. Neither athlete in their respective situation has time to think. They have to act fast, and to do so, they use the pyramidal state of mind, which is a state of reacting and not overthinking.


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