Golf Psychology - Motor Pattern Impedance
The next entry in GLT’s golf psychology series, The Mental Game of Golf, continues to examine the Mind Body Connection, this time through the lens of Motor Pattern Impedance.
We know what you’re thinking, “haven’t you guys already covered everything there is to cover about Motor Learning and Motor Patterns?” We understand how you could feel that way, but the truth is we’ve merely scratched the surface. However, if you’d like to review Matthew Cooke’s Online Motor Learning Course, be our guests. In fact, we’ll even provide the link.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get back to the topic at hand: Motor Pattern Impedance and how it relates to the Mind Body Connection.
Think back to the last Olympic Games. Or the Olympics prior. Or the games before those. Remember Usain Bolt? Remember how he obliterated the competition and shattered world records on the way to becoming on of the most decorated runners in Olympic history? Remember how he moved so swiftly and fluidly, as if he weren’t even phased by the task at hand, how it seemed like he wasn’t even thinking about running?
Well, get ready, we’ve got a spoiler about to come your way. Usain Bolt wasn’t thinking about running, at least not to the extent that he was fixated on what his body needed to do. Bolt was simply focusing on the moment and trusting his body to perform as it had been trained.
In fact, if Usain Bolt were to run a race and, at some point, begin to entertain thoughts of what his body was doing, what his competitors were doing, what position he was running, the enormity of the stage on which he’s performing, odds are that not only would he slow down and not win, he could very easily stumble and fall.
This is where the Mind Body Connection enters the fold. The brain moves the body, the body moves the club and the club moves the ball… at least that’s how it works for golfers. For runners such as Bolt, there are no clubs, so the Mind Body Connection affects – literally – only the mind and body. But the principle remains.
Furthermore, for elite athletes such as Bolt, the core movements of their sport are practically second nature. This is due to something you may have heard us mention before, the degrees of freedom. For beginner, casual and even occasional participants, the degrees of freedom are much more frozen, meaning the athlete will consciously think about the most basic of movements.
Thankfully, as skill levels progress, the degrees of freedom begin to thaw, and movement becomes much more natural, meaning actions will become more fluid, smooth and natural.
Again, time for the Mind Body Connection. The thawing of the degrees of freedom is essentially the result of the body being able to perform required movements without the motor pattern impedance caused by the mind having to consciously pause and plan individual aspects of movement. The mind is able to focus on patters of movement instead, creating the additional degrees of freedom.
Tomorrow, GLT’s golf psychology series continues as we examine the attention of focus and its role in golf’s mental game.