Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Focus on Ball Flight, Not Swing

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Focus on Ball Flight, Not Swing

Article excerpt

Question of the Week: What should I be thinking when playing a shot?

One day I asked Sam Snead, "What do you think about when you're over the ball preparing to play a shot?"

He replied: "Where it's going, what else would you think about?" Easy for him to do, right? He already had a good swing!

The most common mistake we all tend to make is to think swing rather than shot. In striving for a quality result, we tend to focus our attention on what we must get our shoulders, hands, arms, feet, legs, hips, etc., to do in order to produce the intended ball flight.

Or perhaps we've just read the latest tip in one of the golf magazines, so we think about that. So what's the problem with this approach?

Given that the golf swing is composed of so many important and related motions, how many swing thoughts can your mind/body process successfully, program and deliver during the 1.2 seconds it takes to complete a golf swing? The correct answer is: none!

Which gets us back to Sam Snead's approach: Focus on where it's going, not on what you're doing. You'll have a lot more fun and produce many more predictable ball flights if you just play the game with the swing you already have.

If you don't like your ball flights or you're unable to consistently produce your intended ball flight, I suggest getting help with both what and how you should practice.

So let's talk about the "how to practice" and why that's important.

First, we need to understand that we always will play the way we practice, so it's really important to practice precisely the way we intend to play. What that means is: We must learn to play each shot on the practice tee just as though we had that exact shot on the course. So instead of solely working on swing mechanics when you practice, once you have solved the problem, you must bring the golf course to the practice tee.

When we play a shot on the course we are most likely to hit our target if our process of shotmaking includes planning our shot, visualizing the ball flight, rehearsing precisely the feel of motion required to produce that flight and then using our performance routine to play the shot. …

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