This is a guest post by Dr. Patrick Cohn from Peak Performance Sports.
Why do golfers spend so much time over the ball?
Many golfers spend too much time over the ball going through the checklist of mechanical cues to focus on. The most likely reason would be you are going through a checklist of six things you need to do to make a good swing.
You are focusing too much on the how-to of the golf swing and thus binding yourself up before you initiate the swing. I see this all the time with amateur golfers who take many lessons and try to do everything the instructor says when they go play on the course.
The other reason is that golfers sometimes don’t feel comfortable over the ball—for many reasons—most likely because of a lack the confidence to hit a good shot.
Golfers can also become too obsessed with a perfect set up and as they stand motionless over the ball waiting to feel ready to hit the shot.
First, the purpose of practice is to help you repeat a swing and to play consistently on the course. It is also to develop confidence in your ability to hit good shots.
Once on the course, you have to put your practice aside and focus on simplifying your golf game.
On course is the time to play target golf and see good shots in your mind, react to what you see and feel and let your athletic talent and practice come out to play.
Second, you want to avoid trying to be perfect over the ball.
I see golfers all the time that try to be so perfect with their set up, aim, alignment, and swing that they bind themselves up over the ball and are unable to pull the trigger--they are too busy trying to feel just right.
Are you a checker and re-checker when you set up over the ball?
You want to feel comfortable instead or perfect at address. When you have the feeling of comfort, it’s easier to pull the trigger and swing freely.
Bob Murphy once told me that he likes to get over the ball and wiggle a couple times to get settled and then focus on hitting the ball to the target.
Do not get trapped in the end of your routine trying to get perfect feelings over the ball!
Third, probably the most important thing for you to do is to develop a simple routine that forces you to pull the trigger when your set up is complete.
I am a big believer in having a good mental routine. If you have a routine, you can pull the trigger (start the swing) at a certain time, every time after you complete your set up.
The goal here is to simplify your thoughts during the routine, especially over the ball.
I break the routine down into two main stages.
I teach my students to plan and prepare for each shot before they approach the ball. This is called the planning and programming stage of the routine when you pick a target, see the shot, and maybe feel the shot you want to hit.
All the decision-making is complete when you step up to address the ball, which should stop some extra thinking here.
The other stage of the routine is called the procedural stage in which you aim, align, and set up to the ball using your normal alignment routine.
After alignment, you now shift your focus to ONE swing thought or trigger. This can be a target, the ball flight, or a simple feeling you want in the swing such as tempo.
So the point is that you have an activity over the ball to occupy your mind and trigger the swing.
This is the critical point in your routine. You must have one thought that will help to initiate your swing.
Once you are engaged with that thought, it’s time to let it go and start the backswing effortlessly.
You need to apply this strategy to your routine so you can move from the target right to your backswing and skip the technical checklist or trying to be perfect!
Dr. Patrick Cohn is a master mental game coach at Peak Performance Sports in Orlando, Florida. Read more about his golf psychology programs at his website and download a free report on preshot routines.