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Playing Golf Without a (Swing) Thought

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127 members have voted

  1. 1. How often do you play a competitive round of golf WITHOUT a swing thought or a focal point? Please read first post before answering.

    • Never - I always have something in mind
      45
    • Rarely
      45
    • Often
      23
    • Always - I just hit the ball and don't think about anything like that
      6


224 posts / 40568 viewsLast Reply

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10 hours ago, Puttin4Dough said:

My overall point is there's a barrier between thinking and swinging.  A Tour pro can have 20 thoughts, but of the one's I've played with, when they get over the ball they zone-out.

I've worked with a bunch and virtually all of them like to have a thought over the ball. Not all of them have them for all shots - a bunker shot might be relatively "thoughtless" if they've been doing well from bunkers and aren't working on things.

Tiger Woods has a thought on his putts: he is putting to a picture. That's a borderline swing thought to me - it's not really about controlling his movements so much, but it's close. He's also talked about releasing the toe and feeling that and doing that in his putting stroke, and I know for a fact that he's had that as a real live swing thought on putts at tournaments.

And who are you to them? Who are you? Most other people here are putting their name on their posts, and you're hiding behind a username. But anyway, PGA Tour pros aren't going to talk with a stranger about things. I've seen PGA Tour players talk about how they're not working on anything in particular right now, right before heading to the range to work on a little palmar flexion of the left wrist in the downswing before heading to the putting green to work on feeling as if the face is closing during the backswing, before they head to the short game area to work on exposing more bounce through impact on their pitches, all communicated very clearly to their coach(es).

10 hours ago, Puttin4Dough said:

That's why some pro's advise to have a think-box and hit-box.  It has to be separate.  The second anyone thinks "Oh, remember to do this" over the ball it's not good.  It's called not prepared.

Some do. Most don't.

You're "it's not good" is clearly thought to be wrong by the many, many guys and gals who have a swing thought over the ball.

10 hours ago, Puttin4Dough said:

The stairs analogy is perfect for this topic.

The stairs analogy is perfectly stupid.

10 hours ago, Puttin4Dough said:

He said if your swing is not as comfortable as walking down stairs, if you have to think about it, you'll have a hard time ever reaching top-level golf play.

And yet we have the world #1 with a very clear swing thought. Oh, but your old high school van driver said so, so it must be true.

10 hours ago, Puttin4Dough said:

Point is a majority of the golf swing must be 2nd nature IMO. 

A swing thought is not attempting to control or think about or feel "the majority" of the golf swing. It's a feeling about one particular part of the golf swing. Some swing thoughts can't even be put into words, really - they're feelings only.

Someone who is working on a little more palmar flexion in the lead wrist through impact might think "twist the grip" in transition (whatever that "feel" is for them), but the rest of the swing - easily the "majority" - is just being relied upon to do what it does.

10 hours ago, Puttin4Dough said:

Yes I am talking about "over the ball".  But I think you're into a different discussion.  Yes, I can easily sabotage my swing with forced movements.  So sure, it's possible to control movements during a swing.  But when a bad habit collides with the brain in 1.5 seconds, forget about it.

A swing thought is not "a bad habit."

Dude (?) at this point I'm not even sure you know what a swing thought is.

9 hours ago, Vinsk said:

You said ‘think box’ and ‘hit box.’ Well, if you’re off the ball and thinking, ‘ I need to keep my trail arm closer to my body’ it doesn’t make much sense to say once you’re over the ball that thought is gone.

Right on.

Plus, having talked with Pia and Lynn, the think box is more about planning the execution of the shot - selecting a target, a start line, the shot shape, the club, deciding what the wind is doing, etc.

The play box is about executing, and they specifically allow for a swing thought up there. The think box is for the exaggerated rehearsals to get the feeling - they would prefer you don't do the exaggerated rehearsals in the play box - but the play box allows a swing thought. Hell Annika Sorenstam had a bunch when she was playing:

Quote

2. One swing thought I use for all full shots, including my irons, is to keep my right arm fairly straight on the takeaway.

Former world #1 right there. But what did your old high school coach say again…?

9 hours ago, Puttin4Dough said:

Any pro who's thinking about their swing over the ball, other than the most fleeting thought, is not on TV.  Thinking adds tension...it's well documented.

You're not entitled to just make shit up. You're wrong here. I've specifically mentioned recent PGA Tour winners. They were on TV. They won tournaments with a swing thought for various parts of their game, including all tee shots and approach shots.

Again, I'm still not sure you know what a swing thought is.

Your stairs analogy is stupid for two reasons.

  • Walking up and down stairs is many orders of magnitude easier than a golf swing.
  • If I think something like "high knees" I can absolutely still walk up the stairs while not falling and change the way I do it by having "higher knees." They're not talking about which muscles activate on each movement and how the joints move and breaking it down like your stupid stairs analogy.

I used to run, and for awhile, when running, I had a "swing thought" to take shorter strides and land on my forefoot. Guess what? I was able to take shorter strides and land on my forefoot. When another thought would creep in, over time, I'd stop doing that and shift back to longer heel strikes, and so I had to revive the "run thought" and improve my form. I didn't fall. I didn't slow down (better running form is actually more efficient), and so on.

That's why people have ignored your stairs analogy. It's stupid.

1 hour ago, boogielicious said:

Current #1 in the world Justin Rose is a perfect example. I always assumed he had a swing thought and used his rehearsal to reinforce it.

I agree that too much is bad, but I usually have one to focus on to start the backswing.

There ya go. Having talked with Justin and his coach, I know for a fact that he's trying to feel the same thing over the ball.

That's what a swing thought is.

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50 minutes ago, iacas said:

I used to run, and for awhile, when running, I had a "swing thought" to take shorter strides and land on my forefoot. Guess what? I was able to take shorter strides and land on my forefoot. When another thought would creep in, over time, I'd stop doing that and shift back to longer heel strikes, and so I had to revive the "run thought" and improve my form. I didn't fall. I didn't slow down (better running form is actually more efficient), and so on.

When I was bike racing, I would consciously think of trying to get my knees to hit the handle bars while pedaling. This was something the world's best cycling coaches for the Tour de France winners were telling their riders to do, especially on climbs. It is a "swing thought" for riding a bike. It was amazing how much the pedaling seemed to get easier because your pedal stroke was getting more efficient. So yes, we had a conscious thought while doing something that seems like it should be automatic. I still do it now.

When I was running track in college, we did stair training in the winter because weather stinks in Worcester in the winter. The coach told us to think "high knees" on the way up to help us go faster. It worked. But stairs should just be automatic, right?

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4 minutes ago, boogielicious said:

When I was bike racing, I would consciously think of trying to get my knees to hit the handle bars while pedaling. This was something the world's best cycling coaches for the Tour de France winners were telling their riders to do, especially on climbs.

Were they supposed to do this before or after the EPO? 🤫 Sorry, off topic, now back to your regular programming...

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6 minutes ago, chspeed said:

Were they supposed to do this before or after the EPO? 🤫 Sorry, off topic, now back to your regular programming...

During.

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Let's get this back on track. And to do so, I'm going to quote from the first post:

On 7/14/2015 at 8:12 AM, iacas said:

Now, they're not always big things. Sometimes they're something like "focusing on hitting my start line" or something like that (which some might just call "alignment"). In fact, they're rarely anything I'd call "big things." I might rehearse a takeaway move a few times before I hit a shot. Describing what I'm feeling would take significantly more effort than just "feeling" it in the context of my swing, but I'll make a few practice motions and then try to reproduce that feeling during my actual swing.

That's a "swing thought." It can be a focusing on hitting your start line (I do this quite often with shorter putts, because I know my speed will be pretty good). Justin Rose did the rehearsal to create a "feeling" that he then seeks to reproduce (though not as exaggerated as his pre-shot "rehearsal").

Does everyone play with a swing thought? No. But the topic is about getting rid of the idea that the best never have one. It turns out, they have swing thoughts quite often. So, you're not necessarily doing anything wrong if you have them, just because you've heard a few guys say "I was really in the zone, not thinking about much, and just hitting it great."

On 7/14/2015 at 8:12 AM, iacas said:

Now, this is very different than saying I am practicing on the golf course. It's very different than saying I am working hard on the golf course, or that my swing thought (which is often really more of a "feel" - a "thought" is often considered to mean words but I almost never have words as my swing thoughts - just feelings) is very complex.

That clarifies what a swing thought is - it's not words, it's a feeling. If you ask what my swing thought is, I might be able to put it into words, but it's not words. It's not a "mechanical" thought as much as it is a "feel" thought that produces better mechanics.

On 7/14/2015 at 8:12 AM, iacas said:

I also prefer backswing to transition thoughts rather than thoughts that occur on the downswing, as the downswing happens SO quickly.

There's not a lot of time to feel something during the downswing. When Tiger was rehearsing his "swinging left" feel, he knew that started just after the transition. He wasn't feeling something he had to do right at impact.

On 7/14/2015 at 8:12 AM, iacas said:

Some examples of some of my recent "thoughts" (note that while I can only really use words to describe them, they're almost always "feels" or things I can demonstrate):

Again, noting the importance that while the only way I can share them is by typing them out as words, they're "feelings," not words that I think to myself during my swing.

On 7/14/2015 at 8:12 AM, iacas said:

All of those are simple, specific "feels" (again, I don't think these actual words during the swing) I feel during the full swing.

Again, emphasizing the same thing.

On 7/14/2015 at 8:12 AM, iacas said:

So, do I absolutely recommend this for everyone? No.

It's not for everyone. Some players aren't cut out to swing with a feeling. But… many are, and there's likely nothing wrong with you if you find that having a swing thought or two helps you play better golf.

On 7/14/2015 at 8:12 AM, iacas said:

But for almost everyone else, I do think you should consider adopting a strategy of having a single thought and making it a focus of your pre-shot routine and swing. If it is a word, try to make it a single syllable. If it's a feel, rehearse it (or even exaggerate it) before you swing and then just repeat it.

Just consider it.


@Puttin4Dough, you've come on here and, IMO, completely misunderstood what a "swing thought" is. You've described them as "mechanical." You've called them "negative." You've said that no top players do this (despite ample evidence to the contrary). You've said that having any thoughts introduces "tension," even though someone's feeling/swing thought could be "soft" or "loose" or "free and easy" or something.

Maybe swing thoughts don't work for you. But, they work for a lot of people, and golfers shouldn't be afraid to try them out because every great now and then, someone talks about how they were in the zone and playing golf without swing thoughts.

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One swing thought I use a lot in practice is the feeling of deep hands in the backs swing to A4. This gets my hands into proper position at the top. Then I will add the feeling that the right elbow leads the downswing. I put them together in practice.

When I am on the course, the only feel I need is deep hands now because I coupled them together. I will rehearse the feeling before set up.

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Sometimes I wonder why @iacas even bothers, but then I remember that these posts are public and that even if they don't convince the person he's arguing with, members like me, and the lurkers without accounts, can greatly benefit from the discussion that he generates. I've been here over ten years, and he is still fighting the good fight, with basically no loss of passion. Respect.  

 

Edit: Just to keep this on topic...

Man, it'd be so cool to be able to play golf without a thought. It's how I play every other sport. You just play. Alas, it's just not possible for me. The golf swing is just too difficult to control if I don't have something to help clarify my sequencing problems. I can boil it down to maybe three or four words sometimes. Sometimes even two words. But that's as simple as I can make it. And that's okay. 

Edited by JetFan1983

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I have a reserve of maybe 10 swing thoughts that I use while playing. At most, I use one or two per swing, but if those doesn't work (i.e. result in screaming duck hook that sends my playing partners crouching behind rocks), I'll keep trying different ones until I find one that addresses my current worst offense and at least gets the ball, and me moving in the right direction.

Edited by chspeed

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24 minutes ago, JetFan1983 said:

Sometimes I wonder why @iacas even bothers, but then I remember that these posts are public and that even if they don't convince the person he's arguing with, members like me, and the lurkers without accounts, can greatly benefit from the discussion that he generates.

Yeah, plus I suck at not getting the last word. 😄

But it's mostly what you said.

24 minutes ago, JetFan1983 said:

It's how I play every other sport. You just play.

Is it?

I play rec soccer, and even then I'll diagnose my game and sometimes I get too "quick-pass-happy" and have to remind myself to take a touch, dribble a little, and not just immediately look for the quick pass.

And sometimes (rarely for me though because I'm pretty good about this) I'll have the swing thought to keep my chest over the ball when I get into a little habit of leaning back, resulting in kicks that send the ball over the crossbar or too high on a corner kick.

16 minutes ago, chspeed said:

I have a reserve of maybe 10 swing thoughts that I use while playing. At most, I use one or two per swing, but if those doesn't work (i.e. result in screaming duck hook that sends my playing partners crouching behind rocks), I'll keep trying different ones until I find one that addresses my current worst offense and at least gets the ball, and me moving in the right direction.

If you warm up on the range, do you try to figure out which one works best for you that day on the range? Or do you just go to the first tee, usually?

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17 minutes ago, iacas said:

Is it?

I play rec soccer, and even then I'll diagnose my game and sometimes I get too "quick-pass-happy" and have to remind myself to take a touch, dribble a little, and not just immediately look for the quick pass.

And sometimes (rarely for me though because I'm pretty good about this) I'll have the swing thought to keep my chest over the ball when I get into a little habit of leaning back, resulting in kicks that send the ball over the crossbar or too high on a corner kick.

Hmmmm, well that makes sense certainly how another person could be thinking about technique while they play. In basketball, my thoughts would always be in regards to spacing or off-the-ball strategy, which was always my weakness, so that would probably qualify as playing with a thought. Technique wise however I never did, maybe because my jumper was so automatic by the time I was fifteen years old that it wasn't something I had to do anymore. 

For a free kick though that requires some bend, I could see how even someone as accomplished as David Beckham might think of swinging a tad more from the inside sometimes.  And even the games best players don't get their chest over the ball enough on long range attempts resulting in what you said.

Typically though, golf is just such a harder sport that at least relatively speaking it's like I would play those games with no thoughts, even though I guess I probably did now that you're challenging me on it. For golf though it's every single shot where there's a thought related to the shot itself. In other sports, there are numerous plays where I feel like I had no thoughts at all, and I was fully immersed in the flow of the game. 

Edit: In soccer, I would get so winded after a few minutes that thoughts basically fell away. In football though, as a receiver, I always had to remind myself briefly what route I was running and how I was going to vary my route speed, but when the play actually started, it felt very thought free. But I guess you got me there too. Football is weirdly similar to golf in that each play is kind of like each shot, with time between the action, and planning between the next play/shot. 

Edited by JetFan1983

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29 minutes ago, iacas said:

If you warm up on the range, do you try to figure out which one works best for you that day on the range? Or do you just go to the first tee, usually?

I do try to choose one if there's a range (home course doesn't have one). More often than not, however, the one that worked on the range magically stops working on the first tee. 🤯

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This doesn't have direct application to on the course, but having seen all my faults and tendencies on video on the range, that has helped me through the frustration of bad shots because I have a much better idea of what exactly is happening. If you don't use video and you have a guess, that's exactly what it is, a guess. Why not have conclusive proof by putting yourself on video? So then you are more positive on the swing thought to apply on the fly.

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53 minutes ago, JetFan1983 said:

Typically though, golf is just such a harder sport

Yes, I agree. Soccer is closer to walking down stairs than it is to golf.

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7 minutes ago, nevets88 said:

This doesn't have direct application to on the course, but having seen all my faults and tendencies on video on the range, that has helped me through the frustration of bad shots because I have a much better idea of what exactly is happening. If you don't use video and you have a guess, that's exactly what it is, a guess. Why not have conclusive proof by putting yourself on video? So then you are more positive on the swing thought to apply on the fly.

Agree. I know what I did wrong on a bad shot just by the feel and knowing my video.

1 minute ago, iacas said:

Yes, I agree. Soccer is closer to walking down stairs than it is to golf.

:dance:

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On 1/15/2019 at 11:24 PM, Puttin4Dough said:

Anyone who remains focused upon anything near rudimentary swing mechanics at any significant level isn't on Tour. 

 During the long stretch of poor golf I suffered through in the winter and spring of 1967, I tried to rouse my game by attempting to bring off increasingly complicated shots. What I should have done was to back up, return to the fundamentals, and get one thing at a time under control.

Jack Nicklaus.

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49 minutes ago, iacas said:

Yes, I agree. Soccer is closer to walking down stairs than it is to golf.

Me trying to play golf without a thought:

giphy.gif

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Anyone considered that there are some kinds of people-Like me-Who if we do not have a swing thought I will think something worse.

Swing thoughts keep me focused and I play better. Who can actually think of nothing-I know I can not.

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