What the heck is myelin? That's exactly what I thought when I heard the word. We all know the value of practice in anything and now there is science research to back up this idea. It all has to do with this process called myelinization which in a nutshell is the way your brain creates vast highway systems to speed up the way you do things. It is like muscle memory.
The thicker your insulation the easier it is to repeat that habit or pattern you've trained to do. So if you've trained the correct technique that pathway has a thick sheath of insulation (myelin) so when you fire those commands to the muscles it fires quickly and powerfully (think muscle memory).
Poor habits are created the same way :( and myelin doesn't unweave itself. You will have to create a whole new pathway with new myelin until that pathway becomes stronger than the "bad technique" pathway. That's why old habits are hard to break.
Spoiler alert- Practice your technique slowly
As football coach Tom Martinez likes to say, “It’s not how fast you can do it. It’s how slow you can do it correctly.” New England Patriot quarterback Tom Brady's college coach and coaching guru
While I might be a pretty good golfer and golf coach I’m not much of a guitar player and so my process of learning and struggling to play a couple Beatles songs has a big effort and slow going. My guitar teacher is the one who suggested that I get the book and now I’m beginning to transfer some of this information from the book to help me play better guitar and I’m hoping inspire you to to practice DEEPER in golf.
I'm hoping I can make this analogy help you understand more. We create the electrical impulses that amazingly create movement in our body. So our brain is like a computer sending out all these electrical blasts to make our muscles respond in a desired way but until you’ve had time to practice something you’re going to be clunky like a Frankenstein creature for awhile. So the clunkiness is like your phone trying to operate with just a one bar signal. The signal between you and other phone is spotty at best and for that same reason your muscles respond less than efficiently since their not getting a clear strong signal.
The more you think about how complex new endeavors are for us the more you wonder how we’ve developed as a species. Pats on the back fellow human beings, the other living creatures on our planet don’t have the bandwidth in their brains to do what we have the capability of doing.
Still look how much you’ve accomplished, standing, walking, getting food in your month efficiently. Then there’s reading, writing, running, jumping etc etc. We’ve had to start from literally zero while some animals like horses pop out of their mom and presto they get up and actually walk then trot around! Turns out those little ponies come pre-loaded with that myelin to get up right away to be ready to escape a predator. Makes you wonder how we didn’t get that head start as well.
Struggle is not optional—it’s neurologically required..... in order to get your skill circuit to fire optimally, you must by definition fire the circuit sub-optimally; you must make mistakes and pay attention to those mistakes; you must slowly teach your circuit. You must also keep firing that circuit—i.e., practicing—in order to keep myelin functioning properly.
So we all know we can learn to do things and with decent coaching and the right drills or exercises from that coach you’ll be able to build your own highway system for all of your golf shots. A good foundation of fundamentals are key and the research is telling us that doing them slowly, correctly and with intense focus is the key to growing this free flowing highway system that gets those impulses to the right place super fast so you can have that well timed golf swing.
Give me a call at 707-529-6458 to discuss how my golf program can help you create a better myelin for you golf swing. www.bestgolfschool.net or www.krismoegolfschool.com
One of the great things about the game of golf is the interesting and beautiful environments golf course are built on. This is the week of the British Open you might call this a celebration of links golf or oceanside golf. Links golf is a different game since you use the ground a lot more to get to the green. I think it's a lot more creative and rewards those with the ability to hit the range of trajectories into a target.
I've got a chance to play Royal Birkdale and it is truly one of the gems of links golf in The British Open circuit. I played in two British amateurs and two British Opens and looking back my best golf was on windy links courses. Low ball hitters like me like playing in wind.
I'm a coach for a Junior golf team in Alameda. And in our last practice we played a version of golf with a soccer ball and you move the ball with a kick. I played nine holes with the kids and enjoyed that. But most of all it reminded me of links golf since your rolling the ball on the ground. When I played regular golf later that day I had an much clearer sense of how I wanted the ball to carry and roll.
My point is get out and find a links course to play or find a place where they have Foot Golf.
I had a magical scoring day recently playing with my son. I had two eagles and five birdies in 11 holes (shooting 6 under on the front with a double bogey) had the fewest amount of putts in probably 20+ years.
I believe what's been making golf more fun for me will also do the same for you. So read on to learn what I'm talking about.
Handle is going up while golf club strikes down through the golf ball (I know...WTF?)
If you can wrap your head around this mind twisting reality it help you understand a key to striking the golf ball better. Click the video below to understand better.
Your hands, like the golf club, travel on an arc and you'll want to hit the golf ball after your hands have bottomed out in its arc and are actually on the way back up. Watch the video below with the three-dimensional demonstration of what's happening with the hands in a golf swing.
Those of you who struggle with chunking chips or just struggling from hitting a ball from the ground will be giddy after having success with this new perception. I know my chipping has improved tremendously since understanding this.
Triggering the Zone or Flow State- Being over whelmed with thoughts when trying to hit a golf ball doesn't work really well. You might say over thinking is traffic jam of thoughts that block your motor system from operating the way it's meant to. Flow is the complete opposite of being bogged down with needless thoughts and we're learning all kinds of triggers to make this flow state more consistent (eg breathing, humming, chewing gum etc.). Find out more here.
I just finished reading a great book on the subject called the Flow Motion Factor by John Yellen. It's an easy read and will really help you understand how and why a quiet brain enables better timing and results in your golf game. Here's another source to improve performance at sport, Flow Genome Project.
I'm fairly challenged at quieting my mind and since meditating with this app called Calm for about ten minutes a day I'm focusing much better.
This month (June 2017) at Dominican College, in San Rafael, there is conference exploring what the future of athletic performance and coaching will look like. I'm going and with this code, ITP, you'll get a 20% discount to it. Find out more.
Green Reading with my Feet- By simply using my feet to read the greens instead of my eyes my green reading skill is so much better and I putt with more confidence. This technique is very simple to learn and typically can takes 5 to 10 minutes for students to pick up. It'll take the guesswork out of reading greens and it another easy way to keep your "body-mind" connection going through the round. Find out more
Superman had Clark Kent and most likely as a kid you were a soldier, gun slinger or someone bigger than life too. These were alter egos that helped you play but something else was going on that probably made you feel powerful, fearless or special and I wanted to share how this may help you in golf.
In golf when we face that tight tee shot or the 8 foot knee knocker to tie your buddy there are two different sort of characters in your mind, one, the weak and self doubting character, picture the neurotic Woody Allen or two, someone on the opposite side of the confidence spectrum like Clint Eastwood. Which character would you draw strength from?
Like kids we have the mind control to draw from the strengths of characters like Clint or some Marvel comic book character (women of course take your pick from all the strong ladies out there) to help you face any challenge like the way we’d imagine your that alter ego would. Taking a practical lesson from Beyonce and Clark Kent.
Here’s another wrinkle. Sometimes in life are deep-seated values of fairness, trust or what-have you can unfortunately creating a block to you winning a competition or a deal. You might be just too nice. Here’s an example, you’re destroying your opponent in a golf match. You have a huge lead and the “nice and fair” person inside of you lets your opponent get back into the match and the next thing you know you’re going up to the last hole tied and now you run the risk of losing.
You may apply this to other aspects of your life. Sometimes for instance we may cut people slack when they are not doing their jobs. Maybe we hate confrontation or whatever. Well sometimes the accommodator in us needs to step up and call that person out for not delivering what they are supposed to. Woody Allen's character wouldn’t (not meaning to pick on Woody btw). But how about Clint or some tough negotiator, dare I say Donald Trump?
Back to golf, channel that golfer, take on their demeanor, their stare, their body language, their shot routine and tackle any kind shot the way they would and see what happens.
Play around and find who suits you. Is it loosie-goosie Freddie Couples or the calculating and tough as nails Jim Furyk? Point is when you’re playing golf interchange some of these great golfers of today or yesterday and see who feels right in those tough situations. You may have one for driving the ball and another for putting.
Golf is an amazing way to practice so many things including focus, soothing yourself and trying out alter egos.
Make Golf More Fun Again
I coach golfers to hit it better and have fewer distractions on the golf course. Alter ego is a fun trick that many athletes and performers are using to get a little bit more out of themselves in their sport or endeavor. I've got few little goodies up my sleeve to share that I've picked up over the years. Join me in one of my two-day golf schools in Napa to lift your game. My websites are www.bestgolfschool.net or for my private lessons in Alameda, www.golflessonsanfrancisco.com
Getting Hooked on Golf
HOW MY YOUNGEST FINALLY TAKES THE BAIT
This week one of my more challenging golf students had a breakthrough. He is my son, 16 years old, love him to death but golf was about as enticing to him as a stubbed toe. Something clicked the other day and dare I say he is now wanting to play more golf.
Of course as a dad and PGA golfer I'm tickled pink since what he likes to do mostly, like most young men, is play video games! Maybe it's generational or just the new normal but sitting in front of a video game fumbling around with a joystick is interesting for about.... 22 seconds....at least to me.
So nurturing this tiny glowing ember of interest with my son is a fragile operation not unlike trying to get the camp fire going with just one match on a windy afternoon with green wood. Ok, I'm being overly dramatic but do you feel me?
Fast forward to the driving range. There's a light sprinkle, we're the only ones hitting. He's done my little warm-up drill of making good practice swings to brush the mat in the right place (left of where the ball would be) and now he's hitting but the balls are going to the right of the target. He doesn't know what to do so I suggest a little tweak and thankfully it works the balls shoot out straight at the target. I see in his eyes a realization, "whoa my old man does know what he's talking about once in awhile". And there you go, hooked him like a big fish......I tried to be cool but inside I'm doing cartwheels because he's hitting "shots" and he is digging it.
So he's on a roll I decide to "double down" and I pull out his nemesis, the driver. And like magic, he's nailing that too. Of course I'm biting my tongue, since I'd like to see a little more hip turn for power but with 20 plus years of teaching, I know when to shut up since often times sometimes less is more. So he's having fun, even with the slight drizzle he continues banging out good shots and we finish off on a good note and jump in the car delighted.
So our next challenge is moving from the driving range to the golf course to golf. Playing golf is a whole different deal then hitting balls on the driving range as you all now. Playing tests us. Our egos get very involved and dealing with all the distractions as a newer golfer is usually overwhelming to say the least. Hence my quick little plug for playing lessons. Six or nine holes with a coach is invaluable to build confidence for all levels but especially the golfers teetering on the fence of becoming a golfer or not.
When I take golfers out on the golf course we start on the range. We’ll do a five-minute stretch to get loosened up but also to connect again to our body’s. Then we’ll make a few no ball swings to get dialed into the brushing the ground in the right place. Because the ball gets in the way of the swing instead the idea of hitting at the ball. Then after hitting a few short, medium and long distances we’ll line up a few shots by picking a spot down the target line and rehearsing the pre-shot routine. Now we’re ready as we’re going to be and we go tee it up.
Ideally we’re walking but that doesn’t also work out and some folks aren’t fit enough to walk so we’ll ride. In a playing lesson it’s less about golf swing and more about picking shots and trying to make them happen. I might suggest a shot or two along the way but I’m watching you play. I’ll also try to match my shots to yours. If you drive it 175 yards I’ll try to do the same. By watching a better player play you appreciate the consistency and tidiness inside of 100 yards.
After our playing I’ll summarize our experience and suggest some tips on how to get better. Spoiler alert- Almost everyone can get better with their wedge shots around the green, that’s a given but I’ll find something in your game that you can take steps to improve whether it’s a miss pattern or a way to get more consistency through safer shot choices.
So I’ll be doing the same with my son Erik. I hope this fires you up for someone you’d like to see playing more or maybe it’s you.
All the best with your Golf! It’s a great game when you get over those humps!
What have you done to improve your experience on the golf course? Do you have a story to share about playing with your parents or kids?
Every golfer is really like a puzzle at first. Some are 50 piece puzzles and some are 500 piece puzzles. As a golf school coach for over 25 years the two days gives me enough time to sort through your misconceptions mentally about hitting a ball or the physical compensations that is rooted in say a poor hold on the golf club. Either way I enjoy playing Sherlock Holmes to unravel the clutter in your golfing mind.
The first day is always a good overview of my key concepts and I get to see you hitting all kinds of shots and playing on the course. There will be plenty of Q and A (questions and answers) to clear up some of the non-sense that has accumulated through dozens of golf magazine articles, Golf Channel shows and tips from your buddies or family members. The most most famous misconception is "keep your head still". I'm going to have you moving your head and you'll feel liberated.
So day one is about giving you a clear picture of what makes good contact on any shot. I'll start with the shorter shots, either putting or chipping and build progressively from there. By lunch we'll have covered a good grip on the club and why it's important, how to use leverage or lag angle in your shots and how to use gravity and momentum for distance control in the short distance shots. This foundation is what we'll build on. It's not rocket science and everybody can do it and so will you.
That night I'll get a deeper dive into your swings on video and the improvement plan the second day and beyond.
During the second day I'll also encourage you to pull out their cell phones to capture me doing a short video reminders for them to reference for their future practice sessions.
And then after some more thought I'll send you a thank you email with links to videos and information that I think will help you progress through the process of learning. This resource bin is then available for you to explore if they want to dig deeper into understanding more.
I cut and pasted this email below from a recent thank you to a golf student:
First, thanks for coming up to my school. I hope you learned some cool new things and had a fun time along the way!
Here are a few other reminders of what we worked on and some links for you to watch or listen to:
Some ideas to help you measure your progress and reach your goals
To get more power.....Power Exercises from TPI's Jason Glass
If you're really geeky about golf biomechanics watch this video from Dr. Kwon.
Twice a week for five minutes- Set up a hitting station (aim sticks or using a line to check on your bottom of swing location). "Become a grass cutting machine".
Horizontal swings- Again five minutes twice a week to encourage rotary action.
Twice a week for five minutes- Simple tip to hit the driver better. Get a can of Dr. Scholl's foot spray ($5) and when you're at the range spray the club face with it and see where your impact mark is. Contact higher on the face with launch the ball higher. Toe contact creates hooks and heel contact creates slices. Try different swing speeds to find where you can hit the ball in the middle of the face consistently.
Lighten up your grip pressure to feel the club better.
I'll get you on my newsletter list, I send out some pretty cool stuff that will help you. And always feel free to send me emails with any issues you are having with your ball flight. Until next time!
So in summary this is what you'll get when you visit my golf school:
- Clear understanding of what you're trying to accomplish with every shot
- Me demonstrating the shot so you can copy it
- You doing the swing, first without a ball, working on making good brush marks or divots
- You hitting balls (we always start with chips, then pitches and work our way back to the driver)
- Look at divot marks, measure them from where we want them to occur. I'm trying to get you to be great at making the right scuff mark or divot (this is crucial for excellent ball striking)
- Feedback from your swing videos. Is there anything we can do to make the motion more efficient?
- Feedback from doppler radar. This system shows exactly what is happening at impact with your club but also the ball's flight through the air including it's height, speed, distance, spin etc.
- From the doppler radar instruction you will start accessing your ball flight correctly and be able to make the appropriate adjustments to get your desired ball flight.
- The afternoon is about playing golf. Learning to manage your golf ball around the course so you can start getting the results you wish (more fun playing, better scores or just great shots).
- And you leave with a clear sense of how to improve in the next 90 days.
Get Better at Golf by Getting Out of your Head Part 2
Triggers to your Flow state
Have you ever nonchalantly shot a paper ball into a trash can from 20 feet and put it right in the center of the bin? Of course you have and then you try another and it almost always misses. What's going on there? This article hopes to arm you with some tools and info to help you access that "super golfer" that resides in you.
What is Flow?
Flow is where you feel and perform at your best. Your brain filters out everything that is not necessary and focuses only on what is important at the time.
Seems so easy doesn't it? But most us have brains that race from thought to thought and focusing on one thing for more than ten seconds is a massive effort and seems boring. LOL. Know this it is hard for everybody and practicing being "thoughtless" sucks at first, is not fun and it seems to be a waste of time.
Here is a free app to build up your focus power. Really worth checking out and with a little practice you'll be able to channel this new strength into your golf practice.
Portals to Flow- How Do You Get There?
- Focus. Any activity that requires lots of focus (like golf), will increase the chance of getting into a flow state. This can mean athletic, professional or artistic.
- Risk. The brain releases dopamine when we are at risk and out of our comfort zones
- Rich Environment: Lots of novelty, complexity, beautiful scenery, lots of people, lights, contrast etc.
OK Kris so what you're writing is if I focus or try harder I will perform better? Well yes and no. When you focus with your mind and body you will. If you're just in your head (PFC pre-frontal cortex) you'll never get into the zone or flow from that disconnected stat
I have to admit much of my fascination with studying the mental game stems from my own struggles under pressure. So I've been on a quest to find answers and be more effective under pressure in golf and life. All too often you and I get too much into heads when we golf. But now neuro-scientists are breaking down how our brains work so we can use it more effectively in all aspects of of life.
Scientists like Steven Kotler who wrote the book The Rise of Superman which is about tricks and hacks to help you work and play more in the Flow state. If you Google "how to be in flow" you'll find many interesting articles and resources related to this subject.
While I'm a golf coach and I still play at a high level at certain times I get overwhelmed by some pressure situations where my performance plummets from anxiety from a fear of failing. I hate choking over a putt but at the same time now I see a golf shot as my opportunity to put these practices to work. A true stress test!
You can practice being connected to your body verses being disconnected to your body by feeling or paying attention to one of your senses. Here's a helpful acronym BAT (attention to breathing, auditory and taste) to remember:
Breathe or smell- The easiest and most under appreciated trigger is just focusing on your breathing. When you focus on your breathing it does some amazingly cool things to connect you to your body. Find out more...
Auditory or Hearing- Just a few seconds of your attention on what you hear is a great trigger to connect to your body. Try humming a tune and notice what happens. It'll activate the parasympathetic nervous system (triggering the relaxation response in your body). Find out more..
Taste- Just another sense to engage to get you into your body for the body-mind connection. Just chewing gum helps get you out your head.
You have to be in the present to use your senses and when you do you are turning off or down what's called a dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex which is your inner critic that has a very low bar for who you are. That's essentially what happened when you made that crumbled up piece of paper. And then when you tried on the second attempt it switched back on when you "tried" or put more effort in.
An interesting experiment is to pay attention to when you are in "flow". I think almost all of us experience flow when we're driving a car at times. Another time might be when you're deeply engaged in a conversation. By just reflecting back on your day I think you'll notice moments that you were in flow. The next step would then piece together what got you there.
So circling back to golf. Watch the best players in the world in their pre-shot routine. Notice how they routinely prepare for a shot. There's a Zen to it. They are calming themselves to allow a deep sense of present. Truly black-belts of focus. The highest level players are able to get there in the most intense of scenarios and win majors.
These masters of focus in golf and other sports get there many times on their own and some others through coaching but the bottom line is their brains can now be monitored and researchers can see the brain waves have a consistent pattern in the top performers. Click here for more details
The brain waves can be observed with an EEG (or an “electroencephalograph”) – a tool that allows researchers to note brain wave patterns. Bottom line is now we know how what the formula for flow and you can train yourself to be in the highest state for golf.
Here's some important aspects to what a good golf coach will bring you:
- Help you identify your goals
- Give you a comprehensive physical screen
- Teach strategy and tactics course and game management skills
- Work with you to monitor, measure and reset goals as necessary
- Provide advice and strategies for improving
- Ensure that your equipment and ball is optimally fitted
And then the next steps:
- Teach you how to practice effectively
- Teach mental skills and strategies
- Teach the rules of golf
- Teach competitive skills- event preparation/ game plans
- Help formulate a detailed goal-setting program and training regimen
- Help establish a balanced and challenging competitive schedule
- Collect accurate data from rounds
- Teach proper nutrition and hydration
- Help create a strength training and flexibility regimen
- Communicate openly with the athlete, parents and collegiate coaches
- Encourage and support you on and off the course
SOME REASONS TO MAKE TIME TO GET OUT AND GOLF
WHY WOULD ANYONE ENJOY A GAME THAT IS SO DIFFICULT? I’LL SHARE SOME OF THE REASONS WHY.
- You get to hang out with people you care about for most of the day. Whether it’s with your buddies that you want to win a dollar or two from or spending time with your sons or daughters it is quality time in a world where life is moving so fast that quality time seems to be from a bygone era. So as difficult as golf is if you can hit the ball in the general direction of the target forget how many over par you are and score some quality time with some people your care about.
- And even if you don’t know the person you’ve been randomly paired with by the end of the round you almost always have a new friend, how cool is that? Somewhere in that 18 hole chunk of time you found some common ground with that stranger and that’s pretty special in our modern world where we are becoming more and more isolated in front of our devices.
- Even when we’re not firing on all cylinders think about the places and conditions we get to see, feel and play on like a misty morning along the cliff holes at Pebble Beach? Or a dry hot afternoon through the desert in Palm Springs or Scottsdale? And if you’re walking, and I hope you are, you get a decent work out and there’s magic about hiking our earth in the open air. Let’s face it most of us spend too much time enclosed in our cars commuting or in a small space insulated from nature being busy doing something on our computers. Golf gets us outside and that is another reason we love golf.
- While a few balls might be going sideways along with your score every once in awhile we connect squaring the face and compressing the golf ball with that beautiful sound and feeling of everything being just right at impact. And then the bonus is that we get to watch our ball soaring like an arrow toward the intended target, oh yeah, bliss…. the anticipation while it’s in the air four, five or even six seconds we’re asking ourself “is it going in the hole?” Then it hits the green and rolls out toward the hole, another few seconds… “get in” someone in the group yells, “one time” another yells…….come on, even if you miss every shot the rest of the day that one instance of greatness has filled your tank for at least a few rounds. After the round the rehashing of your shot is shared and you get to bask in it’s memory again and sometimes for months (or maybe that’s just me).
So these are just a few of the reasons we love golf and when you put them all together it is worth the schlog of hitting ridiculously poor and frustrating shots because there is so much value packed into the other areas of the game and hopefully we all remember that.
Try to enjoy something in every round!
Check out www.krismoegolfschool.com for more golf programs in Napa, Alameda and San Francisco.