Sunday, January 29, 2012

Resuming Blogging. #golf

Been a long since the last blog post.

As before, it's because I've not had any success to report. Actually, many failures.

  1. It's much easier to fall back on old bad habits than to stick new good habits.
  2. Golf is still a wonderful metaphor for life
  3. It's probably healthier to not take it so seriously! :)

Friday, May 22, 2009

A tale of two nines.

Ok, so I haven't written in a while. Mostly because I want to provide positive blogging, or blogging I/You/We can learn from... But the last several weeks worth of Golf have been DISMAL. Worse than that: I couldn't figure out what happened. Well, ok, I know what happened: Zero focus, little concentration and a very sloppy swing -- but I couldn't figure why it happened.

Today was slightly different.

Keeping in mind that I'm your typical amateur golfer: Breaking 100 is a big deal.

I won't bore you with a shot by shot summary, but I managed 5 pars on the front nine. It was amazing because I felt I nailed every one of my swings/putts. The holes I didn't score well on were due to mis-judging the target areas rather than bad swings. In other words I felt "In the Zone", "In State", I was stoked! It was brilliant.

Then I "fist pumped." and not in a good way. Quick explanation: On any "funny videos of people hurting themselves" show, if you see anyone doing really well on water-skis and they fist pump for the camera, inevitably they are going to wipe out big time.

The back nine was horrific. Again, won't bore you with a shot by shot description but I managed to break 100 (94 as a matter of fact...) I felt like I was flailing around the course, not swinging.

What happened?

On reflection I think it comes down to this: On the front nine, I was completely focused on my game. I went through my pre-shot routine, got a good vision of my target, practiced my swing feel and executed. That's it. On the back nine, having fist-pumped and declared victory on my game, I started paying attention to my playing partners and their woes. I started "Trying" to get my concentration back... It was sad.

Next time out I'm going to try concentrating on my game for all 18 to see what happens.

We'll see.

Posted via email from Kinetic Golfer

Friday, May 1, 2009

State and Zone.

No, this is not going to be a primer on Post Office addressing protocols I promise.

I want you to google "NLP Change State."

Then I want you to google "The Zone Psychology."

Neuro-Linguistic programming and Sports Psychology have a lot in common. It's about how to get in state, finding the zone and excelling.

I played by myself again this morning (playing by myself is unusual...) and decided I was going to focus on finding the right state for getting in the zone.

Guess what? When you are thinking about how your are going to write about what you are thinking about, and you are supposed to be thinking about being in a focused state, you can very easily confuse yourself. (Read that sentence a couple more times: if it didn't confuse you, you have a real future in natural language parsing.)

So the first three holes were doubles. Decent shots followed by total loss of concentration. Not good.

NLP talks about anchors for your state, and clearly I didn't have anything anchored.

An anchor is a way of "attaching" a reminder of a specific memory to a marginally related physical "Clue."

The best example: In the first NLP seminar I attended, the instructor put on some really loud, really fast, upbeat music. He had us jumping around and hooting and hollering. Really high energy stuff. On his signal we were instructed to do "our move." "Our move" could be as simple or as complex as we wanted it to be, so long as it had a sound and a motion tied together. So mine was a "Pooyah!" followed by fist pump. He repeated this a bunch of times, first getting us to quiet down, get our heart rates back down, then he'd start all over again, and holler at us to do "our move."

Ok, Truth in advertising: I thought it was bunch of malarky. It had a circus trick feel to it. But you know what, through the rest of the seminar whenever energy was starting to ebb, he'd have us "do our move." Be darned if didn't get every one pumped and ready to go again. To this day, if I HAVE to get into a heightened state, I "do my move" and it gets me going!

I'm not going to go into a lot of detail about being "In The Zone." (for now) If you've experienced it, you know what I'm talking about. It's when you feel that you are in the perfect place for whatever you are doing, everything just naturally goes your way, you don't have to work at whatever you're doing. In fact, in some extreme cases, you may not even be aware of what you're doing!

Wouldn't it be grand if you could find a state of mind that would magically put you in the zone, then anchor it?

So, here's the thing, a loud "Pooyah!"-fist pump on the Golf course is generally frowned upon. (And if you're right behind the senior members, could cause undesired cardiac episodes!)

Hole four onwards, I switched gears. Instead of forcing myself into some heightened state, and arbitrarily trying to force an anchor on the situation, I kinda let go and let be. Just trying to find my rhythm and flow. Interesting thing happened. I ended up with a 46 on the front nine (remember, I started with three doubles!) and a 43 on the back nine. Not bad for me.

Next time out, I'm going to start from there (finding my rhythm and flow), and then I'll try to anchor it. Subtly. :)

Stay tuned...

Posted via email from Kinetic Golfer

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Center of Balance.

Do you pay attention to your center of balance when you are Golfing? Are you even aware of your center of balance?

About a million years ago, back when I was doing college theater, I had to do some physical theater. That's the artsy way of saying I had to run and jump and prance and not break my neck in the process. Being that I was not naturally coordinated or talented in that respect, this proved to be a major challenge. The director showed me an exercise to find my center of balance.

It goes like this:
Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, sway left to right until it feels like the weight is exactly distributed between the two feet. Imagine a sheet coming down from the sky through your head and body to the point on the ground exactly halfway between your feet, dividing your body in two vertical halves (left and right). Now sway back and forth until you feel the weight evenly distributed between your toes and heels. If you are standing perfectly straight, with reasonably good posture, your shoulders should be over your hips. Imagine that there's a sheet coming down from the sky, going through your head, shoulders and body to the point on the ground exactly halfway between your toes and heels, dividing your body in two more halves (front and back.) Your center of balance is along the line where the two sheets intersect. Finding the exact center is tricky at first, but once you've done this several times, you'll find it quickly. The trick is to rotate your torso about the intersecting line, forward (like you're going to touch your toes) and backwards and rotate it around as much as you can until you get a feel for where your exact center is. (Note: For men it's going to be at or around the navel, for women it's going to be below the navel, almost down in the hips.)

Now you've found it, build a mental picture of a glowing orb around your center of balance.

Now imagine every movement you make starts from that orb. Start with simple stuff, like reaching one arm out to point directly to  your side, then directly in front of you. Take a small jump in place, always starting from the orb. The movements should feel fluid and centered, the jump should start straight up and land softly without having to think about it. [If we were in theater, the would be a number of jumps and twists here. If you start every movement from the center of balance you will end up landing every one of them gracefully, but I'll fast forward to how this applies to Golf.]

There's a tendency, when wanting to clobber the ball a mile to sway completely off-balance in the backswing and to either faceplant or fall back on our butt in the foreswing. Needless to say that doesn't help with ball control and robs the swing of a lot of energy. The energy of the swing is completely wasted on the balance corrections and never actually translates to powerful, square-on contact.

Try doing the centering exercise before every shot. Then imagine your swing starting from your center of balance, the glowing orb, and continuing back and through all the way to finish, keeping the center of balance firmly in mind. The swing should feel fluid, centered, firm. Replicate that feeling as  you address the ball, and go for it. For drives and long irons, it's obvious how this is beneficial: you don't fall off your shot and send it about a mile. But it helps with the short game and putting too because it minimizes all extraneous movement....

Try it. Let me know what you think.

Posted via email from Kinetic Golfer

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Playing Partners and Other Psychological Pains.

If you've been following this blog, you know I'm on a quest to lower my Golf scores. Primarily I am focusing on the mental aspects of the game. My mechanics are good enough, as evidenced by periodic flashes for brilliance. But as the pros have shown us over and over, even with the most brilliant "A game" in the world, the brain can get in the way.

Playing Partners can be a joy or a Pain.

Let's start from the premise that in Golf, as in all other endeavors in life, if you can't see the end-result in your mind, you're not going to be able to achieve it. Starting a round you can't see scoring well on pretty much guaranties some pretty awful Golf.

Partners can do that to you too. If you play with a regular foursome, there is a tendency to find yourself labeled as "That Player." "That Player" can be any one of "The 'D' Player", "The one who always shanks an approach shot after a decent drive", "The one who can't get out of a bunker to save his life".... you get the idea. Unfortunately if we allow ourselves, we can quickly make those labels self-fulfilling prophecies.

It's worse when we've applied those labels to ourselves. They are harder to overcome!

I conclusively proved the point on my last round: I played in a foursome of near and dear friends. In that group, I have the reputation of being the longest hitter with the least accuracy and no short game. It was only on the fourth hole that I realized what was going on. My friends were reinforcing those notions at every opportunity with the banter. Not intentionally I'm sure. Finally realizing what was going on (and being real clear on the fact that the problem was my doing and not their doing) I started focusing on what I was telling myself....

We're in do as I say, not as I do (DAISNAID) territory here because I'm still working on this.

When I paid attention and went through my whole pre-shot routine (including visualization and feel), and made sure that my internal conversation was not negative, I did well. When I paid more attention to the banter than to my game, or allowed doubt to creep in my thinking, I did horrible.

Next time you're out, pay attention to the banter - both from your partners and from your self - and analyze it's content. Is it helping or hurting?

Posted via email from Kinetic Golfer

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Doing the right swing.

Look, we all know that swing mechanics are critical to the game. Unless you've never turned on the TV, never read any Golf related magazines, or never done ANY reading on Golf on the internet you already know that.

But who's swing mechanics are we concerned about here?

Every expert categorically states that [insert their preferred swing style here] is the ONLY swing style. Their grip is the only grip, their address is the only address, their... you get the picture.

High handicappers, specially high handicapper Kinetic Golfers are particularly susceptible to that kind of balderdash.

News Flash: the emperor has no clothes!!!

There is no RIGHT way to do this. Some day soon I'm going to get with my friend with the doctorate in physics and we're going to talk ballistics and angular velocit. But from what I recall from my physics 101 - 215 days: there's are several solutions to that projectile/trajectory/distance equation.

Or to put it differently: I don't care how optimum someone else thinks a swing is, if you're not comfortable with it, it's not going to work for you. Don't do it!

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Albert Einstein (supposedly)

Ok, so on the one hand I seem to be advocating making no changes but on the other I'm trotting out this old saw about not making changes.

So which is it?

Change for the sake of change will screw you over every time.

Calculated, rehearsed change will help you.

Finding the middle ground is Zen. :)

Posted via email from Kinetic Golfer

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Don't Panic!!

A friend sent me an email the other day, concerned about the state of technology, how we can keep up with it and how we can protect our children from it. I responded to the email in my other blog in a post called "Good Shift".

It occurred to me that there were some valuable lessons for Golfers in that post:

How do we Protect and Support ourselves and our children:

  1. Don't Panic!
  2. Stay abreast
  3. Communicate
How does it apply?

Don't Panic
"Panic kills." -- a Navy Pilot friend.

There are no life or death situations on the Golf course. (Even if your whole paycheck for the month is riding on the next shot!) Take the time to evaluate every shot in the context of the game. Ask yourself: is anybody going to die if you don't make this next shot? If the answer is no, then check your anxiety level, because nothing else is worth hyperventilating about.

Take the time to breathe, relax, evaluate all the options.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no situation in Golf that can be helped by a panic response. Adrenalin is a great motivator, but it has to be controlled!

Cool, Calm, Collected, Controlled thinking in the face of even the most daunting challenges can only have positive results.

Stay Abreast
Situational awareness is about knowing where you are in relationship to your environment. (There's another whole blog post here, maybe later...)

There are two levels to staying abreast.

Generally staying abreast of your Golf game means being aware of your strengths and your opportunities for improvement (OFIs) (you have no weaknesses in your game!) Work on your OFIs every chance you get, then work on your confidence about overcoming them. Once you get to the course, know your tools.

Staying abreast on the course is all about course management. There have been volumes written on the topic, I'm not going to add anything new here. But making it a priority to be situationally aware on the course is key to a) decent scores and b) (more importantly) your sanity.

Here I'm going to cheat a little. In the other blog (and traditionally) communication is about dialogue with others for the purpose of sharing or acquiring new information. My cheat is that I'm asking you to communicate with yourself.

Be aware of your self-talk, be aware of the messages you are giving yourself. For instance "I need to make this next shot." doesn't help. "I want to make this next shot." is a bit better but leaves room for interpretation. "I am going to make this next shot." is correct. Start thinking analytically about how you talk to yourself during the round and you may find other opportunities for improvement.

Posted via email from Kinetic Golfer