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Golf teaching and playing articles > Give advice at appropriate times

26 Aug 2004

Well-meaning playing partners often offer advice to other players in their group. Much of that well-intended advice actually hurts rather than helps the other player's performance on the course.

Usually the advice is something like keep your target arm straight or keep your head down. The suggestions are usually made just as you are addressing your golf ball.

The problem with this is that golf is best played when there is not an overabundance of left brain analytical thinking over the shot. Golf, or any sport for that matter, is best played when the creative or right side of the brain is more involved.

Suggestions such as those above, given right at the moment of swinging, tend to get the left brain activity too high and shut down the right-side thinking. Also, a lot of tension is created, which hinders performance.

The right side is the part of the brain that responds automatically to targets and conditions. Great athletes are said to be in the zone when playing well. Often they say it was effortless, or they could see the line. This is when they are not thinking about "how" to do something, but just doing it.

Research on the state of the brain when performance excels versus the state when performance suffers, by Dr. Debbie Crews, a researcher and Sports Psychologist at Arizona State University (reported in Golf Magazine in March of 2001), showed a balance between the activity on both sides of the brain when performing well. The performance suffered when the left-side activity was doing most of the work.

The practice facility is the appropriate place to work on the golf swing mechanics.

Become a positive force on the course with suggestions which help rather than hinder, things like how much break a putt might have, or which club to use, or helping your partner with alignment.