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To Zone or not to Zone


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#1 dogsbe

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 03:41 PM

This year, I have been really focused on triggering myself to get into the zone.  Ideally, I been trying to get in and out of the zone on each shot.  In reality, I would actually get into the zone for about 4 holes.  When I come out of the zone, there is a good chance that I just jump on the bogey train.  So, all the work that I did previously is kind goes up into smoke.  A month ago, I caught on to this relationship and then, only triggered going into the zone on the last 4 holes.  I have not done the stats, but I am guessing that I am averaging 1 to 2 under par for my finish in the last month.  

Yesterday, I was talking to my coach and he said, something rather interesting.  He wanted me to put my efforts into staying out of the zone.  What he wants me to do is basically to analyze my playing statistics and know the score that I am going to shot before I play the round.  In order to achieve this goal, everything has to be consistent, including the mental side of the game.  

He is coming from the perspective of if you need to post a particularly score, you will not do it if you are relying on your best game.  You will do it if you are relying on your averages.  To get better, you don't trying to improve your averages but simply  tighten up on on the precision.  

It is worth saying that one of his students just took the women's Open Championship and what separates from others is her precision in everything that she does.

Honestly, a lot of what he was saying just sounded like gold.


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#2 MDP1555

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 04:11 PM

Goal orientated as opposed to fantasy orientated mind set. You can have both! Frome time to time. That is being “task at hand” orientated and end up being in the zone. Truth is being in the zone is really nothing more than confidence in you ability to perform to a degree that the thought process is not affecting you ability to perform.

I agree the "ZONE" is over rated in terms of a goal to achieve each time you play. it isn’t going to happen the majority of rounds. However a specific task is something that is reasonably achievable each and every time you attempt it. It may not happen every time but it is always achievable.

Also a task at hand gives you situational direction when your are out of position. if you are relying on being in the zone to help you, you are just wishing.

Edited by MDP1555, 15 November 2012 - 04:26 PM.


#3 keygolf

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 05:15 PM

dogsbe and MDP: would you both, or either of you, be good enough to indicate what zone it is to which you are referring and how you go about getting there?

I ask because what you say does not quite match what the reasearch shows and there are two zones, not one. I may need to change 30 years of study and teaching of this process if there is something you know that I missed.
Thanks,

#4 MDP1555

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 05:22 PM

What is ment by the Zone is a combination state of mind that is free and clear with dedicated focus and without doubt while at the same time your athletic execution firing on all cylinders. It is when you feel like you can do no wrong and your body reacts in perfect timing.

it in truth is an symbiotic state of thought and execution  personaly I think it is rare event and seldom achivable by trying to do so.

Edited by MDP1555, 15 November 2012 - 05:24 PM.


#5 MDP1555

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 05:40 PM

View Postkeygolf, on 15 November 2012 - 05:15 PM, said:

dogsbe and MDP: would you both, or either of you, be good enough to indicate what zone it is to which you are referring and how you go about getting there?

I ask because what you say does not quite match what the reasearch shows and there are two zones, not one. I may need to change 30 years of study and teaching of this process if there is something you know that I missed.
Thanks,

i doubt you missed anythig with 30 yers of research Im pretty sure you know more than either of us. I only commented as to what the general public refers to as being in the zone.


#6 dogsbe

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 06:35 PM

Yes, the zone is a state of mind that is a kin to being in the flow.  It goes beyond confidence and automatic execution, but also includes things like distorted reality.  Golfer's in the zone will might see the hole being a giant bucket or feeling like they are superman.  For me, I get tunnel vision and most likely will not be aware of other people, even if they are talking to me.  I am also mentally disconnected from the golf game and swing, which is almost like an out of body experience.   In this state, I play explosive golf.  

A good example is that I was in a pro am last week and we started on the 10th, which was a really difficult hole.  The pro was concerned because there were no shots given.  I really prepared to start off the round well and went two under after 4 holes, but then went on the bogey train.  Once that cycle finished, I just played dead steady.  

I believe it can be triggered rather easily, but I use meditation during my golf round and routine is designed to encourage going into the flow.  At times, I can just flick my eyes a couple of times to get there.

#7 ej002

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 06:40 PM

I think TIger being out of the "zone" is what his current problem is.   I don;t know anything about 30 years of research, but he just doesnt seem to have "it" lately, but he has all the individual skills still.  But he is a master of meditation and all that eastern stuff taught by his father.  I think is what made him who he is.  It is hard to dismiss it.  JMO as always

#8 JPGolf FL

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 08:14 PM

Here is an article I wrote to submit to Zac in hopes of getting it posted on wrx.  Let me know what you guys think.


Three keys to bringing your A game everytime you tee it up-

Some days you have it, some days you don't. One Sunday you own the course, the next Sunday the course owns you. Golf is a fickle game. Players of all levels experience the same ups and downs. It doesn't matter whether you are trying to break 100, or trying to break par. Playing your best on a given day comes down to that infamous five inch space between your ears, where golf is truly played. That is the most fundamental lesson Hogan ever gave us. Owning the space between your ears is key to having a good round every time you tee it up. Understanding how to build a
strong mental game is the first step. We've all heard the plethora of 'Band-Aid" swing tips. But
without a clear understanding of the where your head should be, each round can feel like a craps
shoot. If you want to control your golf ball, you must first gain control of your mental game.
This is not as easy as it sounds. You have most likely spent years ingraining bad mental habits.
Try using these three keys to channel your focus in the right direction and start building
a strong mental game.

1. Give your central nervous system a clear instruction.
The central nervous system (CNS) is the processing center for the nervous system. This is where precise calculations are made and relayed to our muscles. The CNS can be given a task, then instantly work out how to complete that task without any conscious thought. When you throw a
piece of paper into a trash can the CNS automatically gives your arm the force and trajectory needed. There is no need to consciously think about how to do it. As a matter of fact, if you do think about it and TRY to do it you will probably miss. Conscious thought only gets in the way of our natural ability. When it comes to golf, the CNS needs to know what the objective is. The objective is not to hit the ball, or make a good swing. The objective is to send the ball to the target. If the CNS is given an instruction to hit the ball, that is exactly what it will do. It will hit at the ball with very little concern as to where it goes. Now of course the club must hit the ball to send it to the target, but the intention is not to hit the ball. Hitting the ball is simply part of the process of sending it to the target. A good way to practice this on the
range is to really try to hit a target. I don't mean pick a target and hit balls at it. I mean completely
forgetting mechanics as if you had never touched a club, and trying to hit the target. You have to want to hit it. As if a big bag of money depends on it. If you have a buddy with you try and see who can hit it first.If you do this for a few range sessions you will begin to feel the difference between true targetfocus and simply banging balls at a target. When you are truly connected to the target you willbe much more methodical and accurate. This leads us into #2.


2. Be target focused
I am always amazed at how many people I see on the range beating ball after ball, looking up
only to see where the ball went. They spend 90% of their range time staring down at their feet.
This is counter productive because it trains the brain to hit balls, not targets. Hitting a target with a golf ball is an incredibly difficult task. So how do we do it? In math terms, we want the set up, plus the swing, to equal the target. The set up and swing are the variables, the target is constant. In other words the equation should start at the target and work back to the ball, not viceversa. The CNS is capable of using the picture of the target to calculate and execute the swing needed. It can only do this if we keep our conscious mind out of the way. Trying to consciously put together a swing that sends the ball to your target is a game of pure luck. Allowing the CNS to use the target to apply your natural ability is much more effective. In other sports our eyes stay on the target. This makes target focus very easy and natural. You look at someone and throw them the ball. The CNS has no trouble doing that. It uses the picture your eyes give it for cues as to how to throw the ball. You don't have to think about how to draw your arm back or when to release the ball. In golf we must allow our CNS to remain spatially aware of the target, even though our eyes are on the ball. Training the brain to do this can be tricky.
Once again, always having a specific target at the range is key. And remember, you are not
hitting a ball with a club. You are hitting a target with a ball.



3. The through swing is more important than the back swing.
We have been bred to obsess over our back swings. Stay on plane, don't roll the wrists, take it
outside, take it inside. I see guys on the course frozen over the ball with smoke coming out of
their ears. I can see the gears turning as they try to remember how to make a back swing. This is
a problem. With our attention hyper-focused on the back swing, the CNS loses its main instruction. Focusing on the back swing throws it right out the window. We are then left stranded, without our natural ability to help us hit the shot. Of course it is necessary to take practice swings and be sure we are ready to hit a shot, but we should put more emphasis on our through swing. After all, that is the only part that matters. Just ask Jim Furyk. He is a true example that a good
through swing is all you need. If you have the correct intention, and your practice swing gives you the feel for the correct release, the back swing will take care of itself. This will keep your
focus in front of the ball and in the direction of the target.

Employ these keys when practicing and playing and your mental game will start moving in the right direction. You will begin to identify issues before a round goes completely down the drain. When your ball starts to behave badly, step back and check your intention. It is a game of getting a
ball from point A to point B. Sure having good mechanics makes it easier. But learning good
mechanics should be done in a way that allows you to remain on path to a strong mental game.
A player with a good mental game and questionable mechanics usually beats the player
with good mechanics and a questionable mental game.

Edited by thesponge, 15 November 2012 - 08:30 PM.


#9 wadesworld

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 08:49 PM

That's an OUTSTANDING post sponge.  As a Shawn Clement student, I agree with every word you said.

#10 JPGolf FL

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 09:02 PM

Thanks man! I think that is how I would define "in the zone". Its when the CNS is connected to the target and controls the pre-shot and the swing. This is a difficult state to stay in as playing good or bad will induce our conscious self to get in the way.


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#11 frikkie5000

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 01:00 AM

View Postthesponge, on 15 November 2012 - 08:14 PM, said:

Here is an article I wrote to submit to Zac in hopes of getting it posted on wrx.  Let me know what you guys think.


Three keys to bringing your A game everytime you tee it up-

Some days you have it, some days you don't. One Sunday you own the course, the next Sunday the course owns you. Golf is a fickle game. Players of all levels experience the same ups and downs. It doesn't matter whether you are trying to break 100, or trying to break par. Playing your best on a given day comes down to that infamous five inch space between your ears, where golf is truly played. That is the most fundamental lesson Hogan ever gave us. Owning the space between your ears is key to having a good round every time you tee it up. Understanding how to build a
strong mental game is the first step. We've all heard the plethora of 'Band-Aid" swing tips. But
without a clear understanding of the where your head should be, each round can feel like a craps
shoot. If you want to control your golf ball, you must first gain control of your mental game.
This is not as easy as it sounds. You have most likely spent years ingraining bad mental habits.
Try using these three keys to channel your focus in the right direction and start building
a strong mental game.

1. Give your central nervous system a clear instruction.
The central nervous system (CNS) is the processing center for the nervous system. This is where precise calculations are made and relayed to our muscles. The CNS can be given a task, then instantly work out how to complete that task without any conscious thought. When you throw a
piece of paper into a trash can the CNS automatically gives your arm the force and trajectory needed. There is no need to consciously think about how to do it. As a matter of fact, if you do think about it and TRY to do it you will probably miss. Conscious thought only gets in the way of our natural ability. When it comes to golf, the CNS needs to know what the objective is. The objective is not to hit the ball, or make a good swing. The objective is to send the ball to the target. If the CNS is given an instruction to hit the ball, that is exactly what it will do. It will hit at the ball with very little concern as to where it goes. Now of course the club must hit the ball to send it to the target, but the intention is not to hit the ball. Hitting the ball is simply part of the process of sending it to the target. A good way to practice this on the
range is to really try to hit a target. I don't mean pick a target and hit balls at it. I mean completely
forgetting mechanics as if you had never touched a club, and trying to hit the target. You have to want to hit it. As if a big bag of money depends on it. If you have a buddy with you try and see who can hit it first.If you do this for a few range sessions you will begin to feel the difference between true targetfocus and simply banging balls at a target. When you are truly connected to the target you willbe much more methodical and accurate. This leads us into #2.


2. Be target focused
I am always amazed at how many people I see on the range beating ball after ball, looking up
only to see where the ball went. They spend 90% of their range time staring down at their feet.
This is counter productive because it trains the brain to hit balls, not targets. Hitting a target with a golf ball is an incredibly difficult task. So how do we do it? In math terms, we want the set up, plus the swing, to equal the target. The set up and swing are the variables, the target is constant. In other words the equation should start at the target and work back to the ball, not viceversa. The CNS is capable of using the picture of the target to calculate and execute the swing needed. It can only do this if we keep our conscious mind out of the way. Trying to consciously put together a swing that sends the ball to your target is a game of pure luck. Allowing the CNS to use the target to apply your natural ability is much more effective. In other sports our eyes stay on the target. This makes target focus very easy and natural. You look at someone and throw them the ball. The CNS has no trouble doing that. It uses the picture your eyes give it for cues as to how to throw the ball. You don't have to think about how to draw your arm back or when to release the ball. In golf we must allow our CNS to remain spatially aware of the target, even though our eyes are on the ball. Training the brain to do this can be tricky.
Once again, always having a specific target at the range is key. And remember, you are not
hitting a ball with a club. You are hitting a target with a ball.



3. The through swing is more important than the back swing.
We have been bred to obsess over our back swings. Stay on plane, don't roll the wrists, take it
outside, take it inside. I see guys on the course frozen over the ball with smoke coming out of
their ears. I can see the gears turning as they try to remember how to make a back swing. This is
a problem. With our attention hyper-focused on the back swing, the CNS loses its main instruction. Focusing on the back swing throws it right out the window. We are then left stranded, without our natural ability to help us hit the shot. Of course it is necessary to take practice swings and be sure we are ready to hit a shot, but we should put more emphasis on our through swing. After all, that is the only part that matters. Just ask Jim Furyk. He is a true example that a good
through swing is all you need. If you have the correct intention, and your practice swing gives you the feel for the correct release, the back swing will take care of itself. This will keep your
focus in front of the ball and in the direction of the target.

Employ these keys when practicing and playing and your mental game will start moving in the right direction. You will begin to identify issues before a round goes completely down the drain. When your ball starts to behave badly, step back and check your intention. It is a game of getting a
ball from point A to point B. Sure having good mechanics makes it easier. But learning good
mechanics should be done in a way that allows you to remain on path to a strong mental game.
A player with a good mental game and questionable mechanics usually beats the player
with good mechanics and a questionable mental game.

Sponge, I think this is a very good post and I agree with a lot of it, but there are some things that seem a bit vague to me.  

The main problem lies not so much with instruction, but with the type of instruction. In Afrikaans we have a saying "throwing the baby out with the bath water" and I think this is exactly what happens if you advocate pure external focus and put that much emphasis on the CNS. Any form of movement, whether automatic or conscious, relies on integration between the peripheral nervous system and central nervous system. Proprioceptors, for example, are vitally important for sending info from the body to the parietal lobe that is responsible for keeping track of our movements in space and time.

I think your discussion regarding the central nervous system is a bit confusing. While it is true that the CNS is responsible for the coordination of movement via various areas of the brain (including the cerebellum and basal ganglia to name but two) what you seem to be describing in your post suggests that being target orientated is preferable to focusing on kinaesthetic cues to direct movement. While this is spot on (check our Dr Gabriele Wulf's research), it fails to take into account the complexity and the speed of the motor movement required to make a golf swing. A golf swing happens so fast that the coordination of movement relies heavily on the initial conditions i.e setup and backswing. The amount of compensations the motor centres of the brain has to make to compensate for bad positions will stack the odds against you.

I am not suggesting for one second that we should inundate ourselves with verbal instruction the way many people seem to do, but setting definite parameters and then leaving it to the brain to coordinate the movements automatically, via clear-keys or any number of approaches, seem superior to an approach that lets the nervous system learn the parameters willy-nilly. It is for this very reason that I like clear keys so much; it allows for the switch from conscious to automatic processing if you do it properly since it keeps he verbal areas of the brain distracted.

#12 Petter Player

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 05:24 AM

Intresting topic, no doubt.

I'm still puzzled with two of my rounds from last season. First took place in Spain on my spring camp and the other in Thailand in a tournament.

Both rounds had started sloppily and had shot ugly numbers along with the pars and maybe a birdie for the first nine holes. Then on the first round I started talking of my goals in golf after about 8 - 9 holes with playing partners of which one was a tour pro on an European mini tour. The later was elderly people in a society golf tournament.

On both occasions I spelled out the ambition to become a scratch golfer within the next five years in order to be able to attend a Senior pro tour Q-school.

Right there I felt relaxed and really targeted. Started shooting fabulous drives off the tee and hitting my short irons stiff, from 150 out to 2 feet and even closer, making almost every put within 8 feet.29 putts by the way for the whole round.

On the first round I ended up being 2 under for the back-nine one to play and bogied the last. On the second I ended up being 3 under after seven for the last nine. I realized being somewhat under both occasions, but did not get anxious or feel any kind of pressure teeing off the last hole. On the later round I made a big management error pulling a driver out and blocking the shot into the woods, without chance to play forward, but had to escape chipping backwards.

The second round was wrapped up with bogey-double bogey finish, but I just sort of showed myself and the people, I just had told my goals, that it is and will be possible to play to my goals.

Without any fear, I just picked targets and pulled the right clubs and shots. For instance a 510 yds par-5, topped drive dead center, leaving a 235 yds shot to an elevated green, which I reached with my 5-wood pin high and made that putt for an eagle three. I do not really know what happened there, but the feeling was magic.

There was about hundred rounds between these two, when I was not able to play anywhere near par, except for a couple of times, but not in competition.

#13 KYMAR

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 05:32 AM

View Postdogsbe, on 15 November 2012 - 06:35 PM, said:

Yes, the zone is a state of mind that is a kin to being in the flow.  It goes beyond confidence and automatic execution, but also includes things like distorted reality.  Golfer's in the zone will might see the hole being a giant bucket or feeling like they are superman.  For me, I get tunnel vision and most likely will not be aware of other people, even if they are talking to me.  I am also mentally disconnected from the golf game and swing, which is almost like an out of body experience.   In this state, I play explosive golf.  

A good example is that I was in a pro am last week and we started on the 10th, which was a really difficult hole.  The pro was concerned because there were no shots given.  I really prepared to start off the round well and went two under after 4 holes, but then went on the bogey train.  Once that cycle finished, I just played dead steady.  

I believe it can be triggered rather easily, but I use meditation during my golf round and routine is designed to encourage going into the flow.  At times, I can just flick my eyes a couple of times to get there.

OH! The zone is equivelant to the flow? Well you shoulda just said that from the beginning
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#14 Hstead

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 05:52 AM

I have always been under the belief that one cannot just force their self into the zone.  Maybe that is why I can't.  lol.  For me, I have been in the "zone" where everything is just easy, in other sports and in golf.  I have never been able to make myself do it though.  It just seems to happen.  From reading other athletes, this seems to be the dominate opinion too.  Michael Jordan just couldn't force himself in the zone, but when he was in it, watch out.  Same for a lot of other great players.  

If you all figure it out, trust me there are millions to be made.  Wish I knew how, but i don't think it is possible.  Honing ones focus, sure that is admirable and doable.  Getting into that state of "can't go wrong" with ease, can't make it happen IMHO.
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#15 Petter Player

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 06:58 AM

View PostHstead, on 16 November 2012 - 05:52 AM, said:

I have always been under the belief that one cannot just force their self into the zone.  Maybe that is why I can't.  lol.  For me, I have been in the "zone" where everything is just easy, in other sports and in golf.  I have never been able to make myself do it though.  It just seems to happen.  From reading other athletes, this seems to be the dominate opinion too.  Michael Jordan just couldn't force himself in the zone, but when he was in it, watch out.  Same for a lot of other great players.  

If you all figure it out, trust me there are millions to be made.  Wish I knew how, but i don't think it is possible.  Honing ones focus, sure that is admirable and doable.  Getting into that state of "can't go wrong" with ease, can't make it happen IMHO.

I've read somewhere, that the best rallye and Formula 1 drivers have the ability to go back and forth into the zone and return to "just keeping the pace high enough" so, others woun't catch up. Some of the good drivers, not the champions, but the runners up have the ability to go there, but after they return to their normal level of fast driving they tend to crash their cars.

I read an article telling, it was not until a long mental coaching, that Marcus Grönholm, the rallye World Champion could do that and win the titles, he did. He was fast from the start, but after leading a rallye might just push it over the limit without anybody chasing him in close proximity.

In golf I feel it is about the same. Tiger, at his best just goes for every pin and shoots the lowest, he can or could do. However Jack Nicklaus played more or less on the level needed for a victory. I think mastering the game that way show true control over the mind. I have no idea, what is going through the professionals mind during the last round, when they are in contention, or leading the championship, but I believe, they deal with the same fears, that all of us do, when we notice, that there is a good score at hand.

The problem to my knowledge is, that the previously positive attitude and self-confidence turns the opposite and people start thinking, not to blow this now. There are numerous melt downs after 12 - 16 holes, I've whitnessed. And it is not a bright and lightening sight to see fellow players turn from sunny and determined into angry nerwous wrecks within the last four holes.

Instead of defending the score, one should just keep on doing, what he's done so far.

Whether it is going into the zone, or not, I think a key to good play is determination to stay in the present for every shot long or short, chip or putt.


#16 kellygreen

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 07:02 AM

View Postdogsbe, on 15 November 2012 - 03:41 PM, said:

This year, I have been really focused on triggering myself to get into the zone.  Ideally, I been trying to get in and out of the zone on each shot.  In reality, I would actually get into the zone for about 4 holes.  When I come out of the zone, there is a good chance that I just jump on the bogey train.  So, all the work that I did previously is kind goes up into smoke.  A month ago, I caught on to this relationship and then, only triggered going into the zone on the last 4 holes.  I have not done the stats, but I am guessing that I am averaging 1 to 2 under par for my finish in the last month.  

Yesterday, I was talking to my coach and he said, something rather interesting.  He wanted me to put my efforts into staying out of the zone.  What he wants me to do is basically to analyze my playing statistics and know the score that I am going to shot before I play the round.  In order to achieve this goal, everything has to be consistent, including the mental side of the game.  

He is coming from the perspective of if you need to post a particularly score, you will not do it if you are relying on your best game.  You will do it if you are relying on your averages.  To get better, you don't trying to improve your averages but simply  tighten up on on the precision.  

It is worth saying that one of his students just took the women's Open Championship and what separates from others is her precision in everything that she does.

Honestly, a lot of what he was saying just sounded like gold.

You're both right...to a point.

1. You can't "force" getting into the Zone.  In fact, odds are the very effort of trying to compel yourself into it....will keep you out of it.  Because it is a mental state of relaxed concentration and unconditional acceptance.  You can set up the conditions that can allow slipping into that state of awareness to occur.  Relaxed concentration.  Present Moment awareness.  Emptying your mind of negative and/or distracting thoughts, so that your thoughts are only focused on playing the shot that is right in front of you.

But you cannot force it to happen.

2. Whether you get into the Zone ("postive samadhi") or not, learning to cultivate the mental conditions that can allow it to happen will allow you to get the best performance out of the game you brought to the course that day...and enjoy playing the game regardless of what score you shoot.  A great book for helping you learn how to do this is "Zen Golf".

3. Your coach is talking about how best to hone the CRAFT of your game.  Charting your rounds so that you can identify your strengths and your weaknesses...and then dedicating your practice time and energy to improving those weak areas.  Doing this will raise the ceiling on the "potential" of your game, and thus improve your average performance over a period of time.

You don't have to choose one or the other...they are complimentary pursuits. Because---even if you improve your average performance---you will still have bad day...or rounds where things want to start going sideways because of a bad hole or a bad series of holes.   Mastering your mind and emotions (not the charting of rounds) will be what helps you to salvage the best possible score from those situations.
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#17 JPGolf FL

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 10:30 AM

View Postfrikkie5000, on 16 November 2012 - 01:00 AM, said:

View Postthesponge, on 15 November 2012 - 08:14 PM, said:

Here is an article I wrote to submit to Zac in hopes of getting it posted on wrx.  Let me know what you guys think.


Three keys to bringing your A game everytime you tee it up-

Some days you have it, some days you don't. One Sunday you own the course, the next Sunday the course owns you. Golf is a fickle game. Players of all levels experience the same ups and downs. It doesn't matter whether you are trying to break 100, or trying to break par. Playing your best on a given day comes down to that infamous five inch space between your ears, where golf is truly played. That is the most fundamental lesson Hogan ever gave us. Owning the space between your ears is key to having a good round every time you tee it up. Understanding how to build a
strong mental game is the first step. We've all heard the plethora of 'Band-Aid" swing tips. But
without a clear understanding of the where your head should be, each round can feel like a craps
shoot. If you want to control your golf ball, you must first gain control of your mental game.
This is not as easy as it sounds. You have most likely spent years ingraining bad mental habits.
Try using these three keys to channel your focus in the right direction and start building
a strong mental game.

1. Give your central nervous system a clear instruction.
The central nervous system (CNS) is the processing center for the nervous system. This is where precise calculations are made and relayed to our muscles. The CNS can be given a task, then instantly work out how to complete that task without any conscious thought. When you throw a
piece of paper into a trash can the CNS automatically gives your arm the force and trajectory needed. There is no need to consciously think about how to do it. As a matter of fact, if you do think about it and TRY to do it you will probably miss. Conscious thought only gets in the way of our natural ability. When it comes to golf, the CNS needs to know what the objective is. The objective is not to hit the ball, or make a good swing. The objective is to send the ball to the target. If the CNS is given an instruction to hit the ball, that is exactly what it will do. It will hit at the ball with very little concern as to where it goes. Now of course the club must hit the ball to send it to the target, but the intention is not to hit the ball. Hitting the ball is simply part of the process of sending it to the target. A good way to practice this on the
range is to really try to hit a target. I don't mean pick a target and hit balls at it. I mean completely
forgetting mechanics as if you had never touched a club, and trying to hit the target. You have to want to hit it. As if a big bag of money depends on it. If you have a buddy with you try and see who can hit it first.If you do this for a few range sessions you will begin to feel the difference between true targetfocus and simply banging balls at a target. When you are truly connected to the target you willbe much more methodical and accurate. This leads us into #2.


2. Be target focused
I am always amazed at how many people I see on the range beating ball after ball, looking up
only to see where the ball went. They spend 90% of their range time staring down at their feet.
This is counter productive because it trains the brain to hit balls, not targets. Hitting a target with a golf ball is an incredibly difficult task. So how do we do it? In math terms, we want the set up, plus the swing, to equal the target. The set up and swing are the variables, the target is constant. In other words the equation should start at the target and work back to the ball, not viceversa. The CNS is capable of using the picture of the target to calculate and execute the swing needed. It can only do this if we keep our conscious mind out of the way. Trying to consciously put together a swing that sends the ball to your target is a game of pure luck. Allowing the CNS to use the target to apply your natural ability is much more effective. In other sports our eyes stay on the target. This makes target focus very easy and natural. You look at someone and throw them the ball. The CNS has no trouble doing that. It uses the picture your eyes give it for cues as to how to throw the ball. You don't have to think about how to draw your arm back or when to release the ball. In golf we must allow our CNS to remain spatially aware of the target, even though our eyes are on the ball. Training the brain to do this can be tricky.
Once again, always having a specific target at the range is key. And remember, you are not
hitting a ball with a club. You are hitting a target with a ball.



3. The through swing is more important than the back swing.
We have been bred to obsess over our back swings. Stay on plane, don't roll the wrists, take it
outside, take it inside. I see guys on the course frozen over the ball with smoke coming out of
their ears. I can see the gears turning as they try to remember how to make a back swing. This is
a problem. With our attention hyper-focused on the back swing, the CNS loses its main instruction. Focusing on the back swing throws it right out the window. We are then left stranded, without our natural ability to help us hit the shot. Of course it is necessary to take practice swings and be sure we are ready to hit a shot, but we should put more emphasis on our through swing. After all, that is the only part that matters. Just ask Jim Furyk. He is a true example that a good
through swing is all you need. If you have the correct intention, and your practice swing gives you the feel for the correct release, the back swing will take care of itself. This will keep your
focus in front of the ball and in the direction of the target.

Employ these keys when practicing and playing and your mental game will start moving in the right direction. You will begin to identify issues before a round goes completely down the drain. When your ball starts to behave badly, step back and check your intention. It is a game of getting a
ball from point A to point B. Sure having good mechanics makes it easier. But learning good
mechanics should be done in a way that allows you to remain on path to a strong mental game.
A player with a good mental game and questionable mechanics usually beats the player
with good mechanics and a questionable mental game.

Sponge, I think this is a very good post and I agree with a lot of it, but there are some things that seem a bit vague to me.  

The main problem lies not so much with instruction, but with the type of instruction. In Afrikaans we have a saying "throwing the baby out with the bath water" and I think this is exactly what happens if you advocate pure external focus and put that much emphasis on the CNS. Any form of movement, whether automatic or conscious, relies on integration between the peripheral nervous system and central nervous system. Proprioceptors, for example, are vitally important for sending info from the body to the parietal lobe that is responsible for keeping track of our movements in space and time.

I think your discussion regarding the central nervous system is a bit confusing. While it is true that the CNS is responsible for the coordination of movement via various areas of the brain (including the cerebellum and basal ganglia to name but two) what you seem to be describing in your post suggests that being target orientated is preferable to focusing on kinaesthetic cues to direct movement. While this is spot on (check our Dr Gabriele Wulf's research), it fails to take into account the complexity and the speed of the motor movement required to make a golf swing. A golf swing happens so fast that the coordination of movement relies heavily on the initial conditions i.e setup and backswing. The amount of compensations the motor centres of the brain has to make to compensate for bad positions will stack the odds against you.

I am not suggesting for one second that we should inundate ourselves with verbal instruction the way many people seem to do, but setting definite parameters and then leaving it to the brain to coordinate the movements automatically, via clear-keys or any number of approaches, seem superior to an approach that lets the nervous system learn the parameters willy-nilly. It is for this very reason that I like clear keys so much; it allows for the switch from conscious to automatic processing if you do it properly since it keeps he verbal areas of the brain distracted.

Without the target being the center of the equation, kinesthetic queues will do us no good. It will do no good to be aware of where the club face is if you are not first aware of where the target is. Of course there are many pieces to this puzzle, but the target is number one. If the central nervous system is not engaged with the target, those kinesthetic queues will do us no good.

The information sent to the central nervous system from the other parts of the nervous system is definitely important. But this is not something you have to consciously do. If the central nervous system is engaged with the target it will automatically listen to the Other branches of the nervous system. The central nervous system simply processes all of that information. My point is that focusing so much on the swing blocks the processing power of the central nervous system. Or better yet, without the target being the center of the equation and letting the CNS understand that sending the ball to that target is the main objective, we are simply hitting balls and hoping they go to the target.

I am not saying that we don't need to work on mechanics. But without the target as an anchor we are creating mechanics that will be useless when we get to the golf course. When a sniper practices making a 1000 yard shot there are many aspects that he must work on. Breathing, trigger squeeze, focus, timing, Etc... But hitting the target is still the main focus. What's good would the practice be without a target to hit? Working on parts of the swing without the target as the main focus is the same thing. How do you know if you are making progress if the target is not the main goal?

Edited by thesponge, 16 November 2012 - 11:40 AM.


#18 keygolf

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 12:03 PM

dogsbe and MDP: Thanks for your responses. The following URL will take you to an article I wrote at the request of the 2000 Guide to Junior Golf - twelve years ago. The fourth dimension is where the "zone" lives. http://clearkeygolf.com/fourth.pdf

If you need more, send me a PM and I have a dozen or so more that might be of help. They are all longer than need posting on a forum.

#19 dogsbe

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 01:27 PM

In terms of the debate if the zone can be triggered, I totally agreed that it can't be forced.  What I personally do is simply set up the conditions that enables me to go into the zone.  When everything is right, I have some control over it, but is not reliable.  I strongly believe that I can further develop my skills in coming in and out of the zone.  I have to say, it takes a lot of work at so many levels.  For example, not only do you have to make your swing automatic, but also the setup and entire routine.  For me, it takes breathing exercises to stay in the present and a routine that I trust 100%.  The whole goal is to simply to stop the mind getting in the way.

#20 PuttingDoctor

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 01:46 PM

Very interesting comments and posts to date.  I would venture that covert vs. overt attention might help some to understand better the interconnection of the non-conscious (covert) and the conscious (overt) and how we must manage the state of arousal at the same time.  Intensity and the zone must be managed so that the athlete does not exhaust him / her self by being in a heightened state of arousal and in the zone continuously for 4-5 hours.  Being able to truly identify this brain state is required.  Unless you have an EEG monitoring the appropriate brainwaves this topic is merely informational.


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#21 dogsbe

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 05:17 PM

View Postthesponge, on 16 November 2012 - 10:30 AM, said:

View Postfrikkie5000, on 16 November 2012 - 01:00 AM, said:

View Postthesponge, on 15 November 2012 - 08:14 PM, said:

Here is an article I wrote to submit to Zac in hopes of getting it posted on wrx.  Let me know what you guys think.


Three keys to bringing your A game everytime you tee it up-

Some days you have it, some days you don't. One Sunday you own the course, the next Sunday the course owns you. Golf is a fickle game. Players of all levels experience the same ups and downs. It doesn't matter whether you are trying to break 100, or trying to break par. Playing your best on a given day comes down to that infamous five inch space between your ears, where golf is truly played. That is the most fundamental lesson Hogan ever gave us. Owning the space between your ears is key to having a good round every time you tee it up. Understanding how to build a
strong mental game is the first step. We've all heard the plethora of 'Band-Aid" swing tips. But
without a clear understanding of the where your head should be, each round can feel like a craps
shoot. If you want to control your golf ball, you must first gain control of your mental game.
This is not as easy as it sounds. You have most likely spent years ingraining bad mental habits.
Try using these three keys to channel your focus in the right direction and start building
a strong mental game.

1. Give your central nervous system a clear instruction.
The central nervous system (CNS) is the processing center for the nervous system. This is where precise calculations are made and relayed to our muscles. The CNS can be given a task, then instantly work out how to complete that task without any conscious thought. When you throw a
piece of paper into a trash can the CNS automatically gives your arm the force and trajectory needed. There is no need to consciously think about how to do it. As a matter of fact, if you do think about it and TRY to do it you will probably miss. Conscious thought only gets in the way of our natural ability. When it comes to golf, the CNS needs to know what the objective is. The objective is not to hit the ball, or make a good swing. The objective is to send the ball to the target. If the CNS is given an instruction to hit the ball, that is exactly what it will do. It will hit at the ball with very little concern as to where it goes. Now of course the club must hit the ball to send it to the target, but the intention is not to hit the ball. Hitting the ball is simply part of the process of sending it to the target. A good way to practice this on the
range is to really try to hit a target. I don't mean pick a target and hit balls at it. I mean completely
forgetting mechanics as if you had never touched a club, and trying to hit the target. You have to want to hit it. As if a big bag of money depends on it. If you have a buddy with you try and see who can hit it first.If you do this for a few range sessions you will begin to feel the difference between true targetfocus and simply banging balls at a target. When you are truly connected to the target you willbe much more methodical and accurate. This leads us into #2.


2. Be target focused
I am always amazed at how many people I see on the range beating ball after ball, looking up
only to see where the ball went. They spend 90% of their range time staring down at their feet.
This is counter productive because it trains the brain to hit balls, not targets. Hitting a target with a golf ball is an incredibly difficult task. So how do we do it? In math terms, we want the set up, plus the swing, to equal the target. The set up and swing are the variables, the target is constant. In other words the equation should start at the target and work back to the ball, not viceversa. The CNS is capable of using the picture of the target to calculate and execute the swing needed. It can only do this if we keep our conscious mind out of the way. Trying to consciously put together a swing that sends the ball to your target is a game of pure luck. Allowing the CNS to use the target to apply your natural ability is much more effective. In other sports our eyes stay on the target. This makes target focus very easy and natural. You look at someone and throw them the ball. The CNS has no trouble doing that. It uses the picture your eyes give it for cues as to how to throw the ball. You don't have to think about how to draw your arm back or when to release the ball. In golf we must allow our CNS to remain spatially aware of the target, even though our eyes are on the ball. Training the brain to do this can be tricky.
Once again, always having a specific target at the range is key. And remember, you are not
hitting a ball with a club. You are hitting a target with a ball.



3. The through swing is more important than the back swing.
We have been bred to obsess over our back swings. Stay on plane, don't roll the wrists, take it
outside, take it inside. I see guys on the course frozen over the ball with smoke coming out of
their ears. I can see the gears turning as they try to remember how to make a back swing. This is
a problem. With our attention hyper-focused on the back swing, the CNS loses its main instruction. Focusing on the back swing throws it right out the window. We are then left stranded, without our natural ability to help us hit the shot. Of course it is necessary to take practice swings and be sure we are ready to hit a shot, but we should put more emphasis on our through swing. After all, that is the only part that matters. Just ask Jim Furyk. He is a true example that a good
through swing is all you need. If you have the correct intention, and your practice swing gives you the feel for the correct release, the back swing will take care of itself. This will keep your
focus in front of the ball and in the direction of the target.

Employ these keys when practicing and playing and your mental game will start moving in the right direction. You will begin to identify issues before a round goes completely down the drain. When your ball starts to behave badly, step back and check your intention. It is a game of getting a
ball from point A to point B. Sure having good mechanics makes it easier. But learning good
mechanics should be done in a way that allows you to remain on path to a strong mental game.
A player with a good mental game and questionable mechanics usually beats the player
with good mechanics and a questionable mental game.

Sponge, I think this is a very good post and I agree with a lot of it, but there are some things that seem a bit vague to me.  

The main problem lies not so much with instruction, but with the type of instruction. In Afrikaans we have a saying "throwing the baby out with the bath water" and I think this is exactly what happens if you advocate pure external focus and put that much emphasis on the CNS. Any form of movement, whether automatic or conscious, relies on integration between the peripheral nervous system and central nervous system. Proprioceptors, for example, are vitally important for sending info from the body to the parietal lobe that is responsible for keeping track of our movements in space and time.

I think your discussion regarding the central nervous system is a bit confusing. While it is true that the CNS is responsible for the coordination of movement via various areas of the brain (including the cerebellum and basal ganglia to name but two) what you seem to be describing in your post suggests that being target orientated is preferable to focusing on kinaesthetic cues to direct movement. While this is spot on (check our Dr Gabriele Wulf's research), it fails to take into account the complexity and the speed of the motor movement required to make a golf swing. A golf swing happens so fast that the coordination of movement relies heavily on the initial conditions i.e setup and backswing. The amount of compensations the motor centres of the brain has to make to compensate for bad positions will stack the odds against you.

I am not suggesting for one second that we should inundate ourselves with verbal instruction the way many people seem to do, but setting definite parameters and then leaving it to the brain to coordinate the movements automatically, via clear-keys or any number of approaches, seem superior to an approach that lets the nervous system learn the parameters willy-nilly. It is for this very reason that I like clear keys so much; it allows for the switch from conscious to automatic processing if you do it properly since it keeps he verbal areas of the brain distracted.

Without the target being the center of the equation, kinesthetic queues will do us no good. It will do no good to be aware of where the club face is if you are not first aware of where the target is. Of course there are many pieces to this puzzle, but the target is number one. If the central nervous system is not engaged with the target, those kinesthetic queues will do us no good.

The information sent to the central nervous system from the other parts of the nervous system is definitely important. But this is not something you have to consciously do. If the central nervous system is engaged with the target it will automatically listen to the Other branches of the nervous system. The central nervous system simply processes all of that information. My point is that focusing so much on the swing blocks the processing power of the central nervous system. Or better yet, without the target being the center of the equation and letting the CNS understand that sending the ball to that target is the main objective, we are simply hitting balls and hoping they go to the target.

I am not saying that we don't need to work on mechanics. But without the target as an anchor we are creating mechanics that will be useless when we get to the golf course. When a sniper practices making a 1000 yard shot there are many aspects that he must work on. Breathing, trigger squeeze, focus, timing, Etc... But hitting the target is still the main focus. What's good would the practice be without a target to hit? Working on parts of the swing without the target as the main focus is the same thing. How do you know if you are making progress if the target is not the main goal?

If the target is the focus during your swing, your body will make corrections, your swing will not be grooved and this will lead to inconsistency.  The target is important, but really only until you complete your setup and square.  The same with swing thoughts, as this is showing that some element is simply not grooved.  At least to me, the whole goal is to give my body the best chance of performing the grooved swing without any external or internal information that can hamper the execution.  Although I am no master, but I work very hard on making my swing, set up and routine automatic to the point that I can do mathematical problems in my head or simply observe my breathing.  The point being, neither target nor the swing are a thought once in position.

#22 JPGolf FL

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 06:51 PM

@dogsbe
You are trying to paint by numbers rather than creating a masterpiece!!! Great golf is not about a grooved swing and aiming correctly. Great golf is an art form, not a science. A painter does not groove a stroke then set himself up in a way to allow that stroke to paint something great. Rory comes to mind as I try to think of how to explain this. Watch how many different types of swings he makes durring a round. He is not using a grooved swing. He is connecting to a target and freewheeling it.
I think you should ask your coach about target focus. The target IS THE GOAL. Allow your incredibly powerful CNS to to do what it does, complete an incredibly difficult task simply by being given a goal. There are an infinite number of places your ball can go when you make a swing, even a highly consistant grooved swing. There are just too many variables. The only way to be precise enough to play great golf is to allow the CNS to connect to the target and decide the EXACT swing you need. And as I said before, of course good mechanics are necessary to play good, but target focus is necessary to play GREAT.

I hope you dont take this as an argument, just trying to convey what I have learned!!! :rockon:

#23 dogsbe

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 02:15 AM

No worries Sponge.  It really boiling down to differences in school of thought.   For me, a well trained body knows exactly what to do and it is the conscious mind that screws it all up.  Being target focused means that you are conscious through the process and you wanting to let your brain to make micro calculation to the swing.  What is your best chance of hitting a target?  Using the super computer in your head to create a swing that you never swung before or without any thought, use a swing that you swung in +10,000 times?  

There is a lovely little book that I have found very inspirational, it is call "Zen and the Art of Archery".  Zen archers have a little saying, "One shot - one life".  So they developed their skill to such a high level that every time they fire and arrow it is a kill shot.  They believe that reason why they miss is because the brain go in the way that hindered their body to do its job.  So what they do is they meditate in their routine by not focusing on the target but simply observing their breathing.  Their breathing is mapped in their routine, e.g. exhale on the draw.  It goes even deeper in that they do not want to fire the shot, they actually want the arrow to fire without their knowledge - it surprises them.  The reason being, little micro-corrections in the finger tips to target the arrow leads to a miss and not a life.  

The only time that I am really target focused is on and around the green for distances.  I use kinesthetic movements to program in the distance and this process is what initiates my firing sequence.  Specifically in putting, I go rotate my head so it goes target - ball - target - ball - target - ball - forward press and fire.  While this is happening, I am just observing my breathing.  To me, what is important is that during the putting stroke, I am in observation mode and totally passive.  I am not trying to steer the putt in or thinking about how hard to it hit or anything like.  Because I am in observation mode, I achieve a high level of sensitivity in the ball strike and ready to hear the ball drop in the hole.  I praise myself not if the ball holes out, but if I simply follow the routine.   I know if I break routine if I see the ball drop or know how I missed.    Being in this state of mind is not being in the zone, it is more a relax state which a high level of skills is being applied on a simple task.  Very characteristically to my game, I strictly follow my putting routine on even a short 2 ft putt, but I am keeping score on how many times I follow my routine and not so much my score.  

#24 dogsbe

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 03:40 AM

I was having a bit of think about what my coach was saying about staying out of the flow and what the putting doc was also saying.   Going into the zone really takes good mental endurance to be able hold it for very long.  Golf being 4 hours is actually a rather long time and through the round, my mental state changes.  What I am taking from my coach is that even though going into the zone produces fantastic golf, it is not sustainable.

Here is the classic metal state of mind diagram.  Flow and the zone are the same thing.  

Posted Image

The flow is really immense level of concentration triggered when the skill and challenge are both high.  Lets take putting as an example.  A simple 4ft putt I practice rather a lot by dropping in 50 putts straight in a row.  To do this task, it takes a high level of skill, but the challenge to hole any one putt is low.  So, on the course I am really in a relaxed state of mind with 4ft putts.  Now a 6 to 10ft putt, really the odds of holing it is against you.  By grooving the putting stroke to a point that it is over learned greatly increases your control.  However, these putts I will also mentally rehearse them something like 8 times before I make the putt is basically an attempt to over learn the specific putt, as this boosts performance and can turn the odds into your favor.  

Now, something like trying to hole a 15ft is starting be more a wish than reality.  The skill level and challenge is really high.  You can hole some by simply giving the putt a chance or you can increase your odds by going into the zone.  One of the key features of going into the zone is that it triggers illusions, so people in the zone will typically say something that the hole looks like a giant bucket.  So, they have high level of confidence in actually holing it.  I personally like practice with hole reducers because it gives a similar effect without being in the zone.  

Given this context, what I am thinking my coach is saying is that to get into the zone, well you have to think the challenge is high. If the challenge is high, well you are very unlikely to do it when the pressure is on.  You can not rely on getting into the zone to help or if you get into the zone, then you will make the shot.  Instead, all of your shots need to have a low level of challenge, so you are playing in a relaxed state of mind.   By using data, we can identify where the high challenge shots are and work towards making them less challenging and thus, keep better control of your mental state.

#25 JPGolf FL

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 09:11 AM

You are correct. You Definitely don't want to be consciously focused on the target. You want to be connected to the target. Its a state of mind, not a thought. And there is no such thing as making the exact same same swing 10000 times. Just not possible. As I said, way too many variables. A good way to proove this would be to hit 20 balls on the range focusing on making the  "same swing" without ever looking up. Use alignment sticks if needed.  Then check the dispersion of balls. I guarantee there will be quite a dispersion. Then connect to a target and try to bounce 20 balls off that target. If you are truly connected to it you will have quite a tight pattern of balls around it.  Being connected to your target will allow you to play golf exactly as you described archery. I think the reason your book talks about An archer NOT focusing on the target is because the eyes are on the target. This means the CNS will automatically focus on the target and do its job if left alone. The reason you hear professional athletes and nearly everyone say golf is the hardest game in the world is because its counter intuitive to how our bodies are built to execute a task. It's the only activity I can think of where our eyes are not on the target we are trying to hit.

You sound like a player who works hard. Keep at it. At least give target focus a shot. As I said, it's not a conscious thing. It's a state of mind that happens when our CNS knows the objective and  plans accordingly while setting up and looking at your target. It is almost supernatural when you get it right. You will find yourself saying "how the hell did I pull that shot off??"



#26 kellygreen

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 09:17 AM

View Postdogsbe, on 17 November 2012 - 02:15 AM, said:

No worries Sponge.  It really boiling down to differences in school of thought.   For me, a well trained body knows exactly what to do and it is the conscious mind that screws it all up.  Being target focused means that you are conscious through the process and you wanting to let your brain to make micro calculation to the swing.  What is your best chance of hitting a target?  Using the super computer in your head to create a swing that you never swung before or without any thought, use a swing that you swung in +10,000 times?  

There is a lovely little book that I have found very inspirational, it is call "Zen and the Art of Archery".  Zen archers have a little saying, "One shot - one life".  So they developed their skill to such a high level that every time they fire and arrow it is a kill shot.  They believe that reason why they miss is because the brain go in the way that hindered their body to do its job.  So what they do is they meditate in their routine by not focusing on the target but simply observing their breathing.  Their breathing is mapped in their routine, e.g. exhale on the draw.  It goes even deeper in that they do not want to fire the shot, they actually want the arrow to fire without their knowledge - it surprises them.  The reason being, little micro-corrections in the finger tips to target the arrow leads to a miss and not a life.  

The only time that I am really target focused is on and around the green for distances.  I use kinesthetic movements to program in the distance and this process is what initiates my firing sequence.  Specifically in putting, I go rotate my head so it goes target - ball - target - ball - target - ball - forward press and fire.  While this is happening, I am just observing my breathing.  To me, what is important is that during the putting stroke, I am in observation mode and totally passive.  I am not trying to steer the putt in or thinking about how hard to it hit or anything like.  Because I am in observation mode, I achieve a high level of sensitivity in the ball strike and ready to hear the ball drop in the hole.  I praise myself not if the ball holes out, but if I simply follow the routine.   I know if I break routine if I see the ball drop or know how I missed. Being in this state of mind is not being in the zone, it is more a relax state which a high level of skills is being applied on a simple task.  Very characteristically to my game, I strictly follow my putting routine on even a short 2 ft putt, but I am keeping score on how many times I follow my routine and not so much my score.  

Zen Archery---like Tai Chi and hatha yoga---is a form of meditation-in-motion.

The point of the breath is to ground the person in the present moment, and to get them to tune into the body and its sensation.   Thus quieting the thinking mind.

In golf, the pre-shot routine serves the same purpose.

All means of quieting the mind and tuning into the moment are equally valid.  Some people just find that one method suits their personality and temperment better than another.
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#27 RBImGuy

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 11:13 AM

View PostPuttingDoctor, on 16 November 2012 - 01:46 PM, said:

  Intensity and the zone must be managed so that the athlete does not exhaust him / her self by being in a heightened state of arousal and in the zone continuously for 4-5 hours.

You should be more relaxed, alert and aware after and time spent has has no consideration.
Unless there is a huge difference between what one does on default vs zone action.
even then there shouldnt be any after effects aka exhaust.

and I dont agree on the cant force it, as its easily forced once you know how to do it.
Until then it wont work obviously.
You then rely on guesswork and missconceptions and lack of definitions.

The guy who did the zone for 9 months straight won 11 competitions in a row and 18 total the same year. Byron Nelson.
he wasnt exhausted just hungry due to maintaing the experience dont exhaust you it makes you hungry.
Exhaust is a sign of not doing things right.
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#28 JPGolf FL

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 11:44 AM

View Postflopper, on 19 November 2012 - 11:13 AM, said:

View PostPuttingDoctor, on 16 November 2012 - 01:46 PM, said:

  Intensity and the zone must be managed so that the athlete does not exhaust him / her self by being in a heightened state of arousal and in the zone continuously for 4-5 hours.

You should be more relaxed, alert and aware after and time spent has has no consideration.
Unless there is a huge difference between what one does on default vs zone action.
even then there shouldnt be any after effects aka exhaust.

and I dont agree on the cant force it, as its easily forced once you know how to do it.
Until then it wont work obviously.
You then rely on guesswork and missconceptions and lack of definitions.

The guy who did the zone for 9 months straight won 11 competitions in a row and 18 total the same year. Byron Nelson.
he wasnt exhausted just hungry due to maintaing the experience dont exhaust you it makes you hungry.
Exhaust is a sign of not doing things right.

I'll have to agree with you there flopper. I would only add that rather than forcing your self into the zone, you allow your self into the zone. Using the word forcing brings about the idea of consciously making something happen. To me, getting in the zone happens whenever nothing else is happening. In other words as long as we don't get in our own way our mind will default to the zone.

#29 dogsbe

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 12:39 PM

One thing I am trying to figure out is what aspect of my game actually changes while I am in the zone.  One thing is tension, but I can get pretty relaxed without going into the zone - the breathing exercises do a pretty good job at that.  We all know, less tension means greater distance.  Honestly, I don't think there is a significant difference.  

Yes, confidence is boosted.   very much believe that I can hole anything that I can see the cup.  There is no messing about with working the ball or "safe spots".  Everything is just bee lined to the hole and take dead aim.  So, there is something different about the targeting, alignment and course management.

Now, being in the zone is not exhausting, but creating the environment that supports going in the zone is very exhausting.  Basically, it is pretending that you are simply an air pump breathing your way around the course for 4 hours takes a lot of concentration.  Any thought that your not in the present, about your swing or conversations with playing partners are not mentally engaged.  So there is no day dreaming, counting up your score or reflecting on a poor shot.  It is just breathing, the shot at hand and playing conditions.  

Yes, I do Yoga and I find it 90% relevant to golf, not only for the relaxation but also the flexibility.  I am currently looking to pick up another session per week during the off season.  

@sponge  I am really struggling to find more ways to connect to the target than what I am already doing without making it a conscious thought.  One thing that I implemented recently is to make sure that I have small target when I need to punch out of the trees or something like that.  Previously, the focus was to get out and back into position, but the position was vague.  Having a specific target and following my routine makes for a lot better recovery shots.

#30 JPGolf FL

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 02:40 PM

Bingo dogsbe..... That's where target focus really started to click with me. When you are in the trees and there is only one small hole to hit the ball through, your CNS will focus on that a lot more easily. I started to put this together when I realized I hit much better shots from the trees than from the middle of the fairway.

Target focus is different for different people. A lot of people actually try to see a picture of the target in their mind as they are addressing the ball. This doesn't work very well for me because I have to consciously try to see the picture and then I'm focused on trying to see the picture rather than the target. The best way I can describe my method of target focus is a feeling I get as I'm looking at the target standing over the ball. If I allow my CNS to be active and engaged with the target and keep the rest of my mind out of the way I can feel the shot I need running through my bones. Now of course I can't do this on every shot, if I could I would probably be making a lot of money playing golf.

My suggestion would be to go into the trees and hit shots and try to be aware of what's happening in your mind.  Even though you are looking down at the ball, your cns is spatially aware that there is a small hole it must send the ball through. The same way as when the target is far in the distance if your CNS is aware that the objective is to send the ball to that target it will react the same way This kind of stuff is always difficult, because the more you try to work on target focus the more your conscious brain wants to get in the way and tell you how to do it.  Being Target focused is a state of mind, not an action.

Edited by thesponge, 19 November 2012 - 03:09 PM.


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