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Frozen Over the Ball

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Over the last few months, I have developed a major problem in my game.  I tend to get frozen over the golf ball, and it feels like it takes FOREVER for me to be able to pull the trigger to start my swing.  I have been taking lessons since mid November, and I believe they may be the cause of my issues.  Don't get me wrong, I am extremely happy with both my instructor and the results I am seeing.  My distance is up between 1.5 and 2 clubs, and my shot shape/trajectory/consistency/etc is far and away better than it was prior to lessons.  I think my issue is that I am running too many thoughts through my head when I set up.  It feels like I am conducting a pre-flight checklist every time I address the ball.

I know this is making me a slow player, which I hate, and I'm sure drives my playing partners nuts.  This seems to compound the mental pressure I put on myself before each shot.  I make it a point to get my club selection, where I want to hit the ball, etc taken care of before it is my turn to hit, so that when I'm up I can do my pre-shot routine and hit the ball without even more delay.

My preshot routine is as follows:

1) Take one practice swing

2) Stand behind my ball and lock in my target, club in left hand.

3) Sole club behind ball, and step into address.

4) Take one look at my target, and then look down to the ball.  I tend to waggle the club while I do this.

This is where the wheels come off...

Instead of looking at the ball and then starting my swing, I get frozen.  In my mind I start with the checklist, "right hip up and back, arms straight, extensor action, right elbow tight, ball first". Sometimes I can get this list down to one or two items, but it doesn't accelerate the process.  While I am thinking of these things, I am setting my grip, and I wiggle my feet to get comfortable.  It feels like I have to wiggle my feet about 20 times before I feel set.  That part is extremely frustrating.

This is driving me absolutely nuts.  I just wish I could hit the damn ball instead of standing over it like a doofus for what feels like an eternity while I wiggle my feet like I'm standing on an ant hill.

Have any of you had an issue like this, and if so, how did you overcome?

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I was doing this a bit a couple of years ago.  I was freezing due to wanting to start the backswing perfectly, especially with the driver, and occasionally 6 irons or longer.  Then my swing was out rhythm so I was spraying it all over the place.  I was playing golf swing instead of playing golf, which is why my moniker is "leftrightleft".   Sounds like you are in a similar boat.   

I came up with my "Goldilocks" routine.  At the end of practice session, I would try to move into reaction mode.  I would do a one-piece takeaway purposely outside the line, then I would do a one-piece takeaway inside the line.  The third was the go and "just right".  In my mind I would say "NO" after the first, "NO" after the second, and "YES" on the third.  It didn't matter if it was perfect, it is just a mind trick to get over the technical crap.  It allowed me to transfer a free swing to the course.  I still do it on the course with the driver when I'm not feeling confident.   It seems to free me up.  

I now try to do the technical stuff on the range, or when making practice swings in a mirror.  When I get to the golf course, I'm trying to visualize the shot, make a practice swing to simulate the shot, and go.   Then accept the result no matter what.  Golf is fun again.  

Good luck.  

 

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1 hour ago, LeftRightLeft said:

I was playing golf swing instead of playing golf

Yes, this seems to be exactly what I am doing.

1 hour ago, LeftRightLeft said:

At the end of practice session, I would try to move into reaction mode.

Glad you mention this.  I went to the driving range after work and got a large bucket of balls.  I spent the majority of my time focusing on what I've been learning in my lessons, but I saved the last 25 balls or so for exactly what you described.  I went through my pre-shot routine of standing behind my ball and picking my target, and then walked up and tried to hit the ball as soon as possible.  I tried counting in my head "one, two, three, GO!".  I also tried just looking once at the target, then at the ball with the thought in my head to pull the trigger as soon as I see the ball.

The shots were not as good as when I take my time, but I wasn't worried about that part, and they weren't awful shots anyhow.  I'm not sure if either of the two things I tried will ultimately be right, or if I'll have success bringing it to the course, but I am definitely going to make a point of practicing reducing my trigger time.

Thanks for the response, @LeftRightLeft!

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2 hours ago, the fish said:

Over the last few months, I have developed a major problem in my game.  I tend to get frozen over the golf ball, and it feels like it takes FOREVER for me to be able to pull the trigger to start my swing.  I have been taking lessons since mid November, and I believe they may be the cause of my issues.  Don't get me wrong, I am extremely happy with both my instructor and the results I am seeing.  My distance is up between 1.5 and 2 clubs, and my shot shape/trajectory/consistency/etc is far and away better than it was prior to lessons.  I think my issue is that I am running too many thoughts through my head when I set up.  It feels like I am conducting a pre-flight checklist every time I address the ball.

I know this is making me a slow player, which I hate, and I'm sure drives my playing partners nuts.  This seems to compound the mental pressure I put on myself before each shot.  I make it a point to get my club selection, where I want to hit the ball, etc taken care of before it is my turn to hit, so that when I'm up I can do my pre-shot routine and hit the ball without even more delay.

My preshot routine is as follows:

1) Take one practice swing

2) Stand behind my ball and lock in my target, club in left hand.

3) Sole club behind ball, and step into address.

4) Take one look at my target, and then look down to the ball.  I tend to waggle the club while I do this.

This is where the wheels come off...

Instead of looking at the ball and then starting my swing, I get frozen.  In my mind I start with the checklist, "right hip up and back, arms straight, extensor action, right elbow tight, ball first". Sometimes I can get this list down to one or two items, but it doesn't accelerate the process.  While I am thinking of these things, I am setting my grip, and I wiggle my feet to get comfortable.  It feels like I have to wiggle my feet about 20 times before I feel set.  That part is extremely frustrating.

This is driving me absolutely nuts.  I just wish I could hit the damn ball instead of standing over it like a doofus for what feels like an eternity while I wiggle my feet like I'm standing on an ant hill.

Have any of you had an issue like this, and if so, how did you overcome?

I really understand this one. I used to have this elaborate routine which could probably equal the checklist for pre-flight of a small Cessna. One of my buddies Made a comment saying, "I'm going to collect social security before he hits that ball!" So, I knew something had to change. 

Now, I have my one or two swing thoughts that I slowly do as a partial drill and move up pull the trigger. Most of my my practice swing is a slow motion, if I even take one. I would venture to say that my time to fire is about 30 seconds from the time that I arrive at the ball.

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Write a letter to Sergio and ask how he got over that paralysis at the US Open at Bethpage. THAT was painful to watch, even as you were screaming at him to hit the damn ball!!!! I'm not sure if maybe he was in a similar situation with working on a new swing or something. 

I haven't really ever had this problem since I'm pretty much self taught and only do a small tweak at the range to keep my swing up to par (as it were). Does it happen at the range when you AREN'T under the watch of your instructor? If not, then take THAT mindset to the course. Can't really do the nickel psychology thing, but something is going on. Maybe give yourself a time limit in your head. If your usual routine takes ten-15 seconds from the start of your "practice swing", then count off in your head down from 15 or 20, and have the actual swing take place at "3,2,1". This might distract you just enough from being overwhelmed by all those swing thoughts but keeping them in the background. The 3,2,1 should be at your swing tempo.

Another drastic measure is to NOT do ANY of that preshot mumbo jumbo. During a practice round, just pick a club, address the ball and swing. Eventually all that stuff with your instructor will(should) be second nature and you won't have to remember to "keep chin down", "left arm straight", "fire left side", etc.... the only real thing to worry about is distance and direction. Think about it- how many 2 footers do you make just walking up and plinking them in as you get to hole to putt for an 8. And how many 2 footers do you MISS after spending all day to measure, line up and thinking about "this will give me a par!"?

Same general idea. my 2 cents... And there will be enough responses here to confuse you even more!!!

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A suggestion that will take away from your golf, but as @RayG says, don't do any mumbo jumbo.  My solution for this is simple, only practice till you have the entire swing down as second nature.  Once this happens, you won't need to worry about anything and all you will need to do, is stand over the ball and hit.  Of course that means no golf on the course for a while, but something that drastic may well force your mind to accept a short cut to getting you back on the course

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I have had this problem. Mine boiled down to ensuring my weight was on left side before I could feel I could take club back. I just couldn't recognize that that was holding me back subconsciously from starting the backswing. Damn that was painful.

Anyway, from my experience I would suggest you have to pin down at what stage of set up (which elements accomplished at address in painstaking detail) that allow you to pull the trigger finally. Try to get to those recognized right at onset during practice and I like the suggestion where you have to start moving into reactive mode.

I don't think it is easy to work this out during actual rounds when you have rolling eyes of buddies burning a hole in your back and the brain is even more cluttered with pressure.

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I can relate.  I get stuck trying to find my "trigger".  I like to do a little knee-flex and exhale before the takeaway but sometimes I get stuck trying to make it feel right.  When you're thinking about whether you have the right knee bend in your stance at address good things rarely happen after that.  I needed to practice the address for a bit to get going again but it sometimes creeps back in.  I should eventually find a different trigger routine.

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4 hours ago, RayG said:

 

Another drastic measure is to NOT do ANY of that preshot mumbo jumbo. During a practice round, just pick a club, address the ball and swing. Eventually all that stuff with your instructor will(should) be second nature and you won't have to remember to "keep chin down", "left arm straight", "fire left side", etc.... the only real thing to worry about is distance and direction. Think about it- how many 2 footers do you make just walking up and plinking them in as you get to hole to putt for an 8. And how many 2 footers do you MISS after spending all day to measure, line up and thinking about "this will give me a par!"?

I think (and hope) you are correct that what I'm working on will eventually become second nature, which I hope means my issue will begin to alleviate itself in the not too distant future.

I like what you say about the 2 foot putts--they only ever become knee knockers when you go to line them up instead of just brushing them into the cup.

I am going to head to the range tonight to practice--I am going to take your suggestion about only thinking distance and direction.  Perhaps switching my focus to be target oriented instead of swing oriented will help me pull the trigger.

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52 minutes ago, the fish said:

I think (and hope) you are correct that what I'm working on will eventually become second nature, which I hope means my issue will begin to alleviate itself in the not too distant future.

I like what you say about the 2 foot putts--they only ever become knee knockers when you go to line them up instead of just brushing them into the cup.

I am going to head to the range tonight to practice--I am going to take your suggestion about only thinking distance and direction.  Perhaps switching my focus to be target oriented instead of swing oriented will help me pull the trigger.

Maybe a combination... Take a swing fully going over your swing thoughts without freezing, of course). Then take 5 fairly rapid fire without thinking. then repeat process. that could help build that muscle and BRAIN memory.

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I'm not exactly fast. From the time I pull the club from my bag, stand behind the ball and line up my shot and hit, takes about 40 seconds. When I go through this I usually hit a good shot. When I rush through it in 30 seconds for "pace of play" I usually hit a poor shot. I have enough OCD that certain things have to be done in a certain order and take a certain amount of time.

 

Now where you get frozen is that the wheels start turning. You have to swing before the wheels start turning. Look down at the ball, take a breath, let it out, and rip it.

If the wheels start turning, step away and reset.

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Frozen, eh? Perhaps you should just Let it go...

Anyway, I humbly suggest shaving down all of that thought and save it for the practice tee. Pre-shot routine is important, but once you've addressed the ball, swing thoughts should be short and simple; i.e. shoulder under chin.

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My first thought was "feel ain't real".  I just wonder whether you're really frozen and slow, or if it has just gotten into your head and you think you are.  It might be worth asking one of your buddies to video you several times a round to see.  Ask him to do it when you're not even aware of it.  Who knows, what may feel like an eternity, may end up being 20 seconds.

Just a thought...

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3 hours ago, Tat14 said:

Perhaps you should just Let it go...

Well that's just like, your opinion, man!

(excellent avatar!)

1 hour ago, David in FL said:

My first thought was "feel ain't real".  I just wonder whether you're really frozen and slow, or if it has just gotten into your head and you think you are.  It might be worth asking one of your buddies to video you several times a round to see.  Ask him to do it when you're not even aware of it.  Who knows, what may feel like an eternity, may end up being 20 seconds.

Just a thought...

Interesting.  I am playing a round with a couple coworkers and also a fellow range rat on Saturday--I'll ask them to do so when I'm not paying attention.

I guess this brings up a very good question--how long is too long to take a golf swing? I would imagine 30 seconds from when it is one's turn would be the ceiling of what is acceptable.

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It's only happened to me once.

Since then I approach the tee and say to myself "let's get rid of that damn ball!"

Works every time.  One practice swing beside the ball facing the target, go behind and look at the line down the fairway or green, go back to the ball, line up, relax and smack it away. Practice going loose.

 

 

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1 minute ago, Traveller said:

It's only happened to me once.

Since then I approach the tee and say to myself "let's get rid of that damn ball!"

Works every time.  One practice swing beside the ball facing the target, go behind and look at the line down the fairway or green, go back to the ball, line up, relax and smack it away. Practice going loose.

 

 

I'll give this a shot.  What you just described as your routine is exactly how I want mine to go.

I tried today at the range to look at the target and fire, without an intentional thought of telling myself to fire, and it was unsuccessful.  Yesterday I tried counting, "one, two, three, GO".  That was more successful--it seems like I need to have a purposeful thought of pulling the trigger in my mind to overcome this.

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6 hours ago, the fish said:

I'll give this a shot.  What you just described as your routine is exactly how I want mine to go.

I tried today at the range to look at the target and fire, without an intentional thought of telling myself to fire, and it was unsuccessful.  Yesterday I tried counting, "one, two, three, GO".  That was more successful--it seems like I need to have a purposeful thought of pulling the trigger in my mind to overcome this.

Counting doesn't usually work. You could try a trigger like lifting your right heel up and down quickly before bringing the club back smoothly and quietly in the backswing. Good luck .

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