One of the greatest benefits of being a performance coach is that you see things others don’t see. We were taught in our training that transformation happens at one level deeper than a student’s awareness.
It is my job to help see that “layer underneath” and help my “champion-wanna-be” to capture his unconscious wiring to make it conscious. From there, we can go to work to address what is at the causal level to create a new result. If you don’t get to causal, which is always internal, you can’t make a true change.
As such, many times the issue of improvement breakthrough isn’t about fixing the mechanics of your golf swing, but what your belief system is behind it. Many times, that belief is based on a lie.
For instance, I have been working with Patty, a highly motivated senior golfer, to win her upcoming club championship in March. We’ve worked hard to create an ideal performance state for her so she can execute shots under pressure. The operative mental-emotional state she focuses on creating on each shot is “calm concentration.” I call it playing from stillness.
Recently, she won two competitions that were typically beyond herself. A 12-handicapper, she even won one tournament against a pro. While she had strokes, she played in a state of peak performance for the win.
While I am not her swing coach, I play golf with her regularly. From the start, I told her, “If you can improve the trajectory of your shots and gain more power,” you’ll elevate your game and results to a new level. “Be sure to get a full shoulder turn. Your swing is too short. You have to get a full turn in order to unturn fully through the shot.” She employed a new swing coach, although I did not see much improvements from that partnership.
Finally, I said to her, “Make an overswing. Even though it won’t be, it will feel like one.”
“But I had someone tell me one time that all you need to do is a half-swing….that’s as far back as you need to go,” she said.
“Ah hah,” I exclaimed. “No wonder you have not been able to make a full shoulder turn, even though you are the pilates queen. You’ve believed in the lie that you’re not supposed to go to parallel at the top of your swing. Your mind is holding your body captive. Turn it loose!”
It proved to me once again the power of a lie to put a strangle-hold on the mind and thus, body. I challenged her to make this new move while we teed it up for nine holes.
“But I feel like I am out of control when I go back that far,” she insisted.
“Ah, another lie—to believe that feeling in control is actually empowering you,” I told her. “If your positions are out of wack, I will tell you, but they aren’t. You look great at the top. Now overswing it!”
She proceeded to take a full turn, which in turn caused her to swing through to a full finish. Wack! The ball went sailing down the fairway for the first time with the proper trajectory and zip I had always envisioned her most powerful swing would have.
While she is a diligent practicer, a fierce competitor and a great student who has all the latest bells and whistles in terms of equipment, we have now busted through her potential to the next level. It’s too bad coaches don’t have more discussions around swinging through the power of a lie to maximize a student’s potential.
When you are talking about the power of a lie, you are talking about a belief system. That’s why when I do teach someone the swing, I always begin with addressing their belief system: “Tell me how the ball gets in the air. Show me how the club connects with the ball.” Ninety-nine times out of 100, the beginner will position the clubhead underneath the ball to get it in the air.
I have to show them that the club comes down on the ball, not underneath it, to get it in the air. “You have to swing down on the ball to get it up.” It’s counter-intuitive. First, we address the lie in the belief system, then we get to the truth.
As we approach the beginning of a new year, perhaps moving forward in your game is just that simple — having the courage to take a look at what you have believed that has been a lie. When you do, your chances of breakthrough will be much greater. Like Patty, you too, will get to your most powerful swing.
By the way, that approach works pretty good for the fairway of life, too!