9th March,2015

The secret to better Ball striking……

~~I have to get my members ready for 2015 season.”Here is food for thought” or in a simple English, something to be seriously considered.  If you’re like most golfers, in any given round you’ll hit a mixture of thin, fat, heel and toe shots, which become very frustrating. If you’re not making consistently solid contact with the center of the club, your distance control and accuracy will be nowhere near as good as it could be. So what’s the solution?
I’m sure you’ve heard and I hear it from all amateurs golfers  when I play golf with them, giving lessons to their friends on the golf course by telling them to  “KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN ” to improve hitting the ball , but how many of my dear amateurs know about the role that our eyes play in this? Hitting the ball thin is NOT the result of lifting your head up, but is because your eyes are looking at the top of the ball, and could hitting it fat actually happen because your eyes follow the golf club in the swing and don’t return to the bottom of the ball? Let’s take a look…
 The secret to better ball striking
The term “Quiet Eye” was introduced to me, in my playing days, 30 years ago by a specialist in Kinesiology (the study of body movement). He wanted to find out how professional golfers (and top athletes in general) use their eyes. He equipped me with headgear which allowed him to see exactly where I focused my eyes before, during and after a golf shot.

What he discovered, was that professional golfers have a common pattern of fixation of their eyes during a shot – on the ball and the target. When he tested average players (16 handicap) using the same equipment, he found that they were a lot more erratic with their gaze and they didn’t focus on the ball for as long, before taking the club back. They also tended to follow the ball with their eyes after the ball had been hit.
The conclusion of the study was that by simply making better use of the eyes, the professional players experienced far better ball-striking.
Breaking it down further, he found that the most significant difference between the 2 groups was the length of the fixation on the ball right before the shot. Professional players fixed their eyes on the ball for an average of 2 seconds, while the average player fixed their eyes for an average of 1.5 seconds. And this 0.5 seconds makes a big difference in ball-striking!
Golf is a hand-eye coordination sport. The eyes tell the body what it needs to do. The ball is essentially an intermediary target in the process of hitting a good golf shot. If your eyes aren’t really focused on this target, your ball-striking will suffer. I often got asked what I look at when I am hitting the ball. My answer is that “I always narrow my focus to one dimple at the back-center of the ball”. That is where I want to hit it. Try this. It gives you a better chance of staying down through the shot and making solid contact.
Practice Visualization on putting. When we did the study for the 2 groups on putting this is the outcome. One practiced on different aspects of their putting stroke, while the other group focused on the visualization technique of fixating the eyes between the ball and the target and holding their gaze on an exact spot on the ball for 2-3 seconds before taking the putting back.
The 2 groups were then put in a high pressure environment, competing for a prize. The results were very convincing. Those who had been learning the visualization techniques sunk 16% more putts than the group that had not. Interestingly still, the group who were “visualizing” had lower heart rates and less muscle twitching, showing less “performance anxiety”. Proof those simple mental techniques can help you perform better under pressure!
In putting, the quality of the ball strike is something that gets better with better players. Professional players simply keep their eyes focused longer on the back of the ball, which encourages a more consistent strike. Conversely, the average player is far more concerned with their stroke.
I encourage my students starting 2015 golf season to keep your gaze on the back of the ball (the contact point for the putter), for a brief period before starting the putting action” long enough to say “in the hole” to themselves. Such intense focus on the ball blocks out negative interference from mental chatter and allow the brain to process the aiming information and direct the body in the proper motions to get the ball where you wish to go.
Immediately after each putt I want my students to grade themselves out of 10 on the quality of the strike. If you can make a quality strike your goal for each putt you will putt better. With putting accounting for around 45% of the average golfer’s shots, this can be an easy way to shave strokes off your handicap and putt better under pressure this season and who knows even wining the Club Championship at Lighthouse Golf Resort in 2015.
Watch the Professional Tour players on TV and you’ll notice them switching their gaze between the ball and the target, nothing else, then fixating on the ball for 2-3 second before taking the club back.
Next time you’re practicing, try this focus technique before you take the club back:
– ball and target
– ball and target
– ball for 2-3 seconds
– swing, focusing on a single dimple, back of the ball (the point of contact)
– if putting, keep gaze where ball was for 1-2 seconds
Please leave your comments and let me know how it goes!