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Unique Problem - Can't Pull the Trigger


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I'm a good player.  I currently carry a 2.1, and would expect it to get down to near scratch before the end of the season.  I'm consistent off the tee, hit a lot of greens, and make my share of putts.  One thing I can't do though, and that is pull the trigger.  Remember when Sergio went through that phase of gripping and regripping?  Well, I've got a similar problem, but it's more with my feet.  Virtually everytime I stand over the ball my feet start pumping like pistons.  I CAN'T get them to stop.  After extended time of leg and foot pumping, I finally get settled in enough to make a swing.  It's not only maddening for me, but know it has to be frustrating for my playing partners as well.  No one has ever said anything to me about it, but I know it must drive them half-crazy.

Each time before I address the ball I tell myself that I'm going to just give the club a quick waggle or two, set my feet, and go.  And each time I feel my legs and feet start pumping like an oil rig on crack.  It's hard to explain what's going through my head, but it's like there's a physical wall that won't allow me to draw the club back.

When I practice I work on this more than anything else.  Though it's not as bad on the range, everytime I actually get on the course I start pumping and wiggling those feet like I'm standing on hot coals.  The weird thing is that it doesn't seem to effect how I play.  My last three rounds have been the lowest of the year; a 69, and two 71s on a course with a rating of 70.7 and a slope of 132.  Still, I would appreciate any advice forum members could offer that would help me just step up to the ball and give it a whack.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

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Have you tried just walking up and hitting it?

Literally, tee it, back off, walk up and swing

This is psychological so I don't know how much help you will get there

Or tee it up, back off, hold your club at the top of your backswing then stand over the ball and see if you can swing without bringing it down first

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When I saw the title I thought this would be about Sergio-itis. He would drive me crazy. I think that if you tell yourself that your routine will be 2 waggles and fire, and then do it no matter what, you will soon start to trust it. It will be really hard to do it the first few times, but after you flush it, it will get easier. Make sure to update us on your progress.

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I'm a self confessed freezer over the ball as well.  My symptoms are slightly different.  When it comes time to pull the trigger, my hands, wrists and arms get very tense.  A real killer.  Oddly, no problems on the putting green or for pitching/chipping.  I'm open to any suggestions others might have for fixing this problem.

Interestingly, Michael Breed on the Golf Fix addressed this problem the other night on his show.  He suggested doing the following drill for 30 days:

1.  On the range place 3 balls in row approximately 2 feet apart

2.  Start swinging the club back and forth

3.  Move towards the balls with the intent of hitting them on the fly

4.  Prior to hitting each ball, look up and pick a target and then hit the ball

5.  Repeat for 5 - 10 reps

Ultimately,  it doesn't really matter where the ball goes.  The purpose of the drill is to train your brain/body to react to hitting a ball.  See ball, hit ball.

In order to take it to the course, he suggested incorporating certain elements into your pre-shot routine:

1.  Take a practice swing beside the ball

2.  Address the ball

3.  Take one look and swing

At this point I've tried the drill on the range a couple of times in June and I've incorporated certain aspects of the pre-shot routine on the course.  Modest results so far.

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Your "set your feet" thought...gravity should take care of that nicely. It dawns on me that I've never really thought about this unless I'm one foot in a bunker or some other awkward stance.

Just focus on your alignment, put the ball in the proper position (forward or back).

Then, refuse to "reward" yourself with all of the unnecessary movement.

Or have your partner give you negative reinforcement when you start stomping around - maybe a 3 wood to the thigh! :)

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How long do you actually take over the ball? Ever had a mate time you from address to impact? It might be that it feels longer to you, because you're so focused in on the process, than it really is. If you're breaking 70 with the routine you have, I'd think hard before messing with it!

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Thanks for the suggestions.  First of all, I don't want to give the wrong impression.  I did break 70 recently, but that is far from the norm.  Over the course of a year I might do it 5-6 times.  My point was that all this foot stomping I do doesn't seem to effect my game.  I'm not actually sure how long I take over the ball.  To me it seems like it's a long time, but Stretch maybe right in that it only seems that way to me.  I've never had anyone refuse to play with me, or even comment about after a round.  Mainly I chalk that up to golfers generally being pretty nice people.  Thanks again for the suggestions.

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I'm trying to get a mental image of this.  Does your entire foot come off the ground or does only the heel come off the ground, with the toes remaining in contact?

If you really want to stop the motion of your feet at address, you may want to consider some sort of classical conditioning of negative reinforcement.  Go to the range, wear ankle socks, and put something abrasive on the back of your shoes at the part where it meets the achilles.  When you pump your feet it should rub against your achilles and cause discomfort, but not during the actual swing.

You may not have an achilles tendon by the end of this process, but you'll be a faster player :)

Brandon

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Brandon,

It's hard to say.  I don't think my entire foot comes off the ground.  And frankly, it's more of a problem with the left foot than right.  It's just starts pumping up n' down, but I doubt if the foot actually comes off the ground, and if it does, it's only by fractions.  Like I was stomping ants or something.  (You know, everytime I write more about his I'm more and more convinved I'm a basket case of some sort.)  I played last night, and I think it was better.  It really gets bad if I'm under stress.  Like with an approach shot on the final hole with he match on the line, or when confronted with a difficult shot.  Though, even though sometimes on the range I can be just swiging away, and the left foot will start pumping like it having it's own grand mal.  Weird.  Really weird.

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Quirks are strange, If its really bothering you, then it will just take alot of practice to make something else a habit. They say most people don't succeed on working out or dieting because it takes abou 3 weeks to make something habit. So i would write down a plan, a preshout routine you want, and just work on it on every shot. Don't just tee up and hit balls, think about your preshout routine. Maybe use a timer, and time how long it takes you to go from visualizing to setting up to hitting it. Try to make it the same. This will give you a goal to obtain, get your mind off other things.

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I used to have this problem.  I was thinking about too much, distance from the ball, how my feet were aligned, whether my grip was good....  I was basically micro-managing every part of my setup in an effort to control the situation because I was afraid of bad shots.  Are you afraid of hitting a bad shot?  Maybe that's your problem.  Go and try to shank a few into water.  Even at a 2.1, we're still human and still going to mishit the ball occasionally.

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Doesn't sound like he's having too many mis-hits lately to me.

If it ain't broke, he may not want to fix it.  Perhaps find a way to be faster in other aspects of your game pre-address and post-swing?

Brandon

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Did you catch the playoff (yet another playoff in 2011) in the St. Jude Classic yesterday?  Robert Karlsson has some near-serious freeze, but just when you think he's completely frozen, he pulls the trigger.  I've watched that guy for years and it's the same routine every time.  Except on the shots he missed right, his freeze timing was pretty much the same.  Harrison Frazar also had some foot pumping going on.  What does the foot pumping do for you?  Does it help you acquire proper foot alignment?  I have a pre-shot routine, but it isn't one I designed or even thought consciously about.  It just came about naturally trying to do the right things.  Once I pick out my spot and find an intermediate point, I squeeze the crap out of the club using my right hand only, set it square behind the ball, then step in with my left foot, left hand, right foot, then I jostle my feet until my weight settles and my alignment feels correct, then I waggle the club to get my grip pressure correct.  The right hand squeeze relieves tension and keeps the club from turning while I'm setting it down square.  All of this basically gives me confidence in my stance, alignment, and grip.  Once I have that confidence, I just think about the target and whatever shot I'm trying to play.  If I don't have confidence or don't feel comfortable, I back off.  Backing off is pretty rare, but it does happen.  I just go with it and start over.  Sometimes you just get aligned weird and you don't know why.  You just have to trust your feel there.  Again, what does the foot pumping do for you?

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I read something (I think here) that was a good tip.

When u practice, switch clubs after every shot.  It forces your brain and body to re-calibrate after each shot.  You're practicing golf, not ball beating.  Keep your bag about 5 yards away so you have to walk back to it, the more variety the better.  Putting practice, use only one ball, (same idea) and chipping alternate between multiple hole locations.

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Bunkerputt,

You asked me, "what does the foot pumping do for you?"  That's a good question,which means that I'm not sure what the answer is, other than it satisfies some mental itch that I'm not able to understand.  The pumping doesn't allow me to acquire proper foot alignment, because I just basically keep picking it up and setting it down in the right place every time.  While I'm doing this I really don't have any specific swing thoughts going though my head, other than to try and hit the ball toward my target.  This weekend I played in a 2-day tournmanent.  I played decntly, shooting a 79-78 from the tips on two courses that I hadn't played before.  The beginning of the round usually starts off ok, but as it progresses, and especially if I'm contention (I finished second in the tournament) I know the foot stomping gets worse.  Really, the only thing going through my head at the moment is "for chrissake, swing the F*&^%$G club."  I would imagine my playing partners are thinking the same thing.  At this point I'm surprised that someone hasn't said that to me already, and I really couldn't blame them if I did.

Due to our shotgun start, I finished the tournament yesterday on the 16th hole.  My two playing partners didn't want to play in from there, so I played the last two holes alone.  With the stress of the tourmanent gone, I didn't do the foot-stomping at all.  There must be something about that I find to be calming, but it's driving me nuts.  There have even been times where I've been tempted to walk off the course, as opposed to further exposing my playing partners to this odd quirk.  If I were to ever quit the game, with I sometimes consider, this would be one of the main reasons why.

Again, thanks to all for the suggestions.  I do appreciate, and will try to use them to break this habit.

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Originally Posted by Zimmy

Bunkerputt,

You asked me, "what does the foot pumping do for you?"  That's a good question,which means that I'm not sure what the answer is, other than it satisfies some mental itch that I'm not able to understand.  The pumping doesn't allow me to acquire proper foot alignment, because I just basically keep picking it up and setting it down in the right place every time.  While I'm doing this I really don't have any specific swing thoughts going though my head, other than to try and hit the ball toward my target.  This weekend I played in a 2-day tournmanent.  I played decntly, shooting a 79-78 from the tips on two courses that I hadn't played before.  The beginning of the round usually starts off ok, but as it progresses, and especially if I'm contention (I finished second in the tournament) I know the foot stomping gets worse.  Really, the only thing going through my head at the moment is "for chrissake, swing the F*&^%$G club."  I would imagine my playing partners are thinking the same thing.  At this point I'm surprised that someone hasn't said that to me already, and I really couldn't blame them if I did.

Due to our shotgun start, I finished the tournament yesterday on the 16th hole.  My two playing partners didn't want to play in from there, so I played the last two holes alone.  With the stress of the tourmanent gone, I didn't do the foot-stomping at all.  There must be something about that I find to be calming, but it's driving me nuts.  There have even been times where I've been tempted to walk off the course, as opposed to further exposing my playing partners to this odd quirk.  If I were to ever quit the game, with I sometimes consider, this would be one of the main reasons why.

Again, thanks to all for the suggestions.  I do appreciate, and will try to use them to break this habit.

If it's not productive, chunk it.  You want simplicity in your body motions from the time you pull your club out of the bag.  If it's hard to chunk it, then it's mental, which sounds like it might be the case.  There's a reason you can't shake it then and you need to find out what that reason is.  No one knows what's going on inside, but you do.  Don't get down on yourself and especially don't get mad at yourself.  Just get to the bottom of it and explain it to yourself.  That's incredibly therapeutic.

I've only struggled a little with stuff like this as I've only been playing seriously for about 5 years now.  I struggled early on mainly because I didn't really know what I was trying to accomplish.  Nowadays I give all my body parts a job to do and a reason to do it.  I've got a buddy I play with that has been playing much longer than me.  He's in his 50s, a terrible putter, but he says he used to be a good putter.  His practice stroke is fluid and rhythmic without a trace of effort.  When he gets up to the ball, he jerks the club back really fast and has to decel with this herky-jerky slap motion.  I told him to try and repeat his practice stroke but he said, "I can't.  It's called the yips."  For one, bullshit on that attitude.  If he closed his eyes, I could put a ball down mid-stroke and he would stroke it just fine.  His problem is that he is focusing on results and forgetting what he is trying to make his body do.  Golf is a weird game where you can't focus on results, you have to focus on the process and trust the process to produce results.  That would be my recommendation.  Get process-oriented with a purpose and let the routine fall out naturally.

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Note: This thread is 3661 days old. We appreciate that you found this thread instead of starting a new one, but if you plan to post here please make sure it's still relevant. If not, please start a new topic. Thank you!

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