Moe Norman – through his brilliance, his pursuit of excellence, and his perspective on life and golf – said a lot of memorable things the course of his life.
One of my favorites is: “Miss it fast.”
What does it mean? And how does it relate to your golf game?
Turns out that the concept: Miss it Fast is amazingly simple, and yet rooted in the complex dynamics of the human brain. You see, even if Moe was not aware of it, the knowledge of what “Miss if Fast” yields for athletes like golfers is supported by the latest research and science in human performance.
And it has surprising implications for your mental game.
Last weekend, at the 2-Day Mental Game Playing School at Prairie Landing Golf Club in West Chicago a whole group of Single Plane Swing golfers had the opportunity to gain a much deeper understanding of what Moe meant by Miss it fast.
One of the key concepts we spent a lot of time on was this: The golf swing is a physical movement. There is a part of your brain that is dedicated to replicating the physical movements you repeat over and over again …it’s called procedural memory.
When you rely on procedural memory to execute a golf shot you give yourself the best chance of pulling off the shot the way you intend to. However, when another important part of your brain – the thinking and analytical part – gets involved, you can often struggle to create high-quality shots.
What to do?
Create routines or distractions so that you prevent too much thinking and analysis (… produced in the part of the brain associated with Working Memory.) Hitting the ball relatively quickly is a perfect example of this kind of distraction.
One super-effective portion of the instruction last weekend was dedicated to teaching a tightly-rehearsed 5-7 second pre-shot routine based on the fundamental concept that dwelling over your shot for 10-15 seconds is a sure-fire way to take you out of Procedural Memory and into Working Memory (where analysis, fear and anxiety lurk.)
Tim Graves and Chandler Rusk led the group through an exercise that allowed the guys at the school to see first-hand how much a short, crisp pre-shot routine can impact the mental game.
Elite-level golfers know that a routine like this supports great shots – but they may not know exactly why.
The reason is that when you keep your pre-shot routine short and structured you prevent the over-analysis, anxiety and resulting tightness in the swing that comes from THINKING TOO MUCH about the shot you are about to hit.
When Todd or Tim talk about “playing empty” they are talking about hitting shots when you are operating from Procedural Memory…and not Working Memory. They know – as did Moe – that if you dwell and linger over shots before you hit them – your capacity to hit great shots is significantly diminished.
So if you want to enhance your mental game, consider practicing your pre-shot routine. See if you can build a deliberate – but not rushed – routine that allows you to step into the ball and pull the trigger within 5-7 seconds. I think what you will find is that you won’t get “stuck” in your thinking nearly as often as you may be getting stuck today.
Miss it fast!
Paul Monahan, PCC, GGA Mental Game Coach is a Peak-Performance coach, member of the International Coach Federation and a certified COR.E Performance Dynamics Specialist. He resides in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife Paula and is the proud dad to three young men.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org