Golf Psychology - Swing Tip Paralysis by Analysis

Joe Culverhouse
  • Author: Joseph Culverhouse
  • Manager - GLT Content and Communications
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paralysis by analysis


In this edition of GLT’s golf psychology series, The Mental Game of Golf, we will discuss paralysis by analysis, and continue to explore the Mind Body Connection; however, we’re going to do something we don’t usually do here at Game Like Training. We’re going to point-blank call out a segment of the golf community, the golf tips segment, to be precise.

While we are about to speak negatively about the golf tips community, we aren’t changing our values & beliefs. GLT will always be a positive sphere within the world of golf. That said, by allowing the golf tips segment to continue to spread disinformation in an unchecked manner, we’re allowing golfers to continue practicing (and playing) in a way that does not foster growth, improvement or, more than likely, even a positive golfing experience. You know by know that GLT believes in making golf as fun and rewarding as possible; we cannot risk allowing paralysis by analysis to ruin anyone’s perception of how fun and game like golf should be when played properly.

Much like the previous entry to this golf psychology series, this article combines the Mind Body Connection and Motor Learning by focusing on, well, focus. Focus can be defined as the process involved when people direct attention to specific regulatory features in the environment and/or to action preparation activities. Taking it further, the direction of attentional focus can be internal or external, such as cues in the environment (external,) or thoughts, plans or activities (internal.) Width describes how broad or narrow of a focus is placed on environmental and mental (internal & external activities.)

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How does all of that relate to the golf tips community and paralysis by analysis? Stating it bluntly, the majority of golf television shows, magazine articles and online blogs dedicated to providing tips meant to improve golf swings focus almost exclusively on swing mechanics. This can have disastrous effects to both a golfer’s swing and psyche.

Because of the Mind Body Connection (the mind moves the body, the body moves the club and the club moves the ball,) we know that what a golfer thinks has a direct impact on how they play. When a golfer’s focus becomes too narrow and internal, it limits the degrees of freedom (link articles,) motor patterns are deconstructed to individual movements, and, quite simply, bodies aren’t able to perform as trained.

What these articles, shows and blogs devoted to swing tips almost always neglect are the cognitive functions of the golfer. There’s no consideration for factors such as environment, the golfer’s intent, or practically anything other than what the club and/or ball are doing.

GLT's free PDF Quickstart of Golf's Mental Game is available here.

Because of this, golfers are being directed to correct mechanical elements that likely are performing as trained. Then, when a golfer does attempt to correct whatever elements may be (wrongly) cited, their focus becomes too internal and narrow. The swing then becomes, for lack of a better word, a mess… a hot, steamy, cluster of a mess.  In turn, this leads to lower confidence, and the golfer becomes even more internal, leading to even more issues. It’s a downward spiral, and it’s completely avoidable and unnecessary.

While focusing on swing elements isn’t inherently evil, and can be helpful when done correctly (with beginning golfers, in the proper practice setting and conditions,) it’s not an area advanced and elite golfers should concentrate. The focus needs to be on specific targets and processes to guarantee the best growth, learning and retention for golfers possessing any skill level about true beginners.

Let’s take a look at Jason Day’s pre-shot routine for a perfect example of where a golfer’s focus should be directed. Much like an NFL quarterback as he takes a snap and completes a pass, at the elite level, you’ll find that focus actually changes… but that’s a blog for later in our golf psychology journey.

Next in The Mental Game of Golf series, we’ll conclude the Mind Body Connection portion by providing some swing tips that utilize proper focus techniques, which means retainable learning, not temporary increases in performance, and definitely no paralysis by analysis. We’ll also further address the importance of focus in golf psychology.

Paralysis by Analysis