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Specifically when playing on the course, do you have an external focus or internal focus? For example, when I play, I usually have some sort of swing thoughs (internal focus) such as how my arms should move, how i should rotate, etc. I am thinking about switching to having an external focus. I find that when I have too many swing thoughts on the course, it usually doesn't help or just makes things even worse. 

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i usually think about how good my cigar tastes, or what i want for dinner, or if it’ll be nice enough tomorrow to take the motorcycle to work.

in between letting all those easy thoughts roll around in my head, i try to hit the ball as solidly as i can. 

the time to think is during practice. 

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18 minutes ago, dlow206 said:

Specifically when playing on the course, do you have an external focus or internal focus? For example, when I play, I usually have some sort of swing thoughs (internal focus) such as how my arms should move, how i should rotate, etc. I am thinking about switching to having an external focus. I find that when I have too many swing thoughts on the course, it usually doesn't help or just makes things even worse. 

When I'm hitting the ball decently, I'm similar to @DaveP043. When things are a struggle, I have trouble quieting all the swing thoughts that might correct things that could be going wrong.

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I typically float between internal and external focuses. I've had really good rounds where I've been working with a simple swing thought, and likewise I've had really good rounds where all I did was focus on a branch or leaf or another tiny target and visualize my shot.

I have found that my swing is not consistent enough to always only have external focus. I have years of bad habits/wrong movements that come back in a hurry. One thing I need to do a better job of this year is creating a system like @DaveP043 mentions - a setup routine to get the bullet points out of the way, and then a switch to a more results-oriented focus as I'm readying to hit the ball. Golf Sidekick's thinking vs. play box concept comes to mind here as what I'm trying to accomplish.

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Count me in the external group. Once I’m on the course I try to not think too much about swing thoughts and just use the swing I have that day. 
 

that being said if I need a certain shot shape I will rehearse it but still think more of what I want the ball to do rather than a certain arm or body position. 
 

I play my best when I keep my thoughts simple and a calm demeanor. 

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GG talks about this in his course. He determines the shot he’s going to hit, takes a swing to develop a feel turns that feel into a swing. Then he goes external and enjoys the course, views and so on. Then when he’s ready to hit the shot he goes super internal in a Jason day like manner then approaches the ball and hits. No swing thoughts at this point, no more practice swings since you have already built that in with the feel swing 
 

This is something I’m going to be using this season. The mental game section of the course is pretty good.

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When I am playing, it is external focus.  I am picking targets and visualizing the shot.   I don't think mechanics other than controlling my tempo.  I don't believe you should be thinking how to swing once you are on the course playing; you body should know what to do.      Note,  if you are practicing on the course you can have internal thoughts. 

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External. If anything, I think of the golf club as a Jai alai “cesta” and that the ball is already attached to it. I’m just throwing the ball to the target. You could also think of one of those tennis ball launchers for dogs. 
 

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I especially need to focus on external thoughts in the short game. I swear every time I have a swing thought on a pitch i hit it super thin over the green. 

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Follow my golf journey to break into the 80s

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Updated 12/27/2020
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9 minutes ago, dlow206 said:

I especially need to focus on external thoughts in the short game. I swear every time I have a swing thought on a pitch i hit it super thin over the green. 

just a suggestion, but have you tried **no** thoughts?

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12 minutes ago, Chip Strokes said:

just a suggestion, but have you tried **no** thoughts?

Hmm, then my mind would think “don’t have any thoughts”

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Follow my golf journey to break into the 80s

Current tester for the Titleist TSi Driver

Spring 2020 MGS Tester for the Fujikura Motore X Shaft

Updated 12/27/2020
Driver:titelist-small: TSi 2 - Graphite Design AD-XC 6S
Hybrids:taylormade-small: SIM Max 3H, 4H - Matrix Ozik 85S
Irons:srixon-small: ZX5 5 - PW - Nippon Modus 120 S
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4 minutes ago, dlow206 said:

Hmm, then my mind would think “don’t have any thoughts”

you’re doing so much work to your swing, you have to give your body a chance to take over and execute what you’ve been working on. 

otherwise your swing on the course will always be forced.  swinging a golf club is an athletic motion. you can’t think about how to be athletic.

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6 minutes ago, dlow206 said:

Hmm, then my mind would think “don’t have any thoughts”

also this is far less damning than “well i need my hands to be here, and my hips should be doing this, yeah that feels ok, time to release the club head now...”

it’s kinda like tryin to f*ck but narrating the whole thing. all the romance is gone, baby. 

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31 minutes ago, dlow206 said:

I especially need to focus on external thoughts in the short game. I swear every time I have a swing thought on a pitch i hit it super thin over the green. 

I struggle with around the green thoughts especially when I’m struggling. All the other facets I’m very external, get up and hit the shot (routine) I’m rarely taking practice swings unless it’s an odd lie but besides that I’m soaking in the course.....until I’m green side (except sand oddly enough).

I also enjoy chit chatting on the course with whom ever that typically really removes any internal thoughts on course related to swing mechanics

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For me, it depends.

If I'm swinging reasonably well, my focus is totally external.  I'm thinking about the shot I'm going to hit and where I want it to go.  I really like the "think box/play box" from Nilsson and Marriott.  Their books are really, really good.

When I'm hitting it left of left, I'm trying to "recall the feeling" of hitting a slice (thanks Adam Young).  I'm probably playing like garbage, and I'm trying to keep from killing people in neighboring fairways.  

Once every few years, I don't think about anything when I play.  Those are pretty special rounds, but they're super-rare.  Most of the time, it's tough to turn off the voices in my head, so I'm trying to keep them from being too damaging.

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31 minutes ago, dlow206 said:

I especially need to focus on external thoughts in the short game. I swear every time I have a swing thought on a pitch i hit it super thin over the green. 

No swing thoughts when playing , other than how to play a particular shot.  This is especially true for short game shots.  If you are thinking about swing thoughts for a pitch shot, then you haven't practiced that shot enough.  It should be automatic, and you should trust it.  A pitch shot is a feel shot.  You can't expect to pull off a feel shot of any kind without a lot of practice.

It's extremely difficult to eliminate swing thoughts when you hit a bad shot.  You are trying to figure out what you did wrong.  Sometimes you just hit a bad shot; pros do it; accept it and move on.  Once you start down the path of trying to analyze your swing based on a couple of shots while playing, the round is lost.  Go to the range.

I struggle with this too.  It's probably the main reason I have been sucking lately.  I think it's excuse #8.  😂  Today, I hit one of my better drives on our #1 handicap hole and had a PW into the green.  Usually, I have a 7i or 8i and if the wind is blowing... a hybrid.  The shot is over water with bunkers left and right and depending on the angle, a bunker long too.  My last thought was the nice shot I made with my PW on the range before I played.  I hit a great shot; looked good in the air.  It was on the green... barely; still a par.

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For me, swing thoughts during a round are a no-no; with the exception of when I’m trying to hit an exaggerated shot( hook/slice around a tree, punch or flop) It’s taken me awhile to not be results oriented while playing golf: if I executed what I intended, I accept the outcome and move on. When I focus on any one outcome, good or bad, my game starts to unravel.

I use “the decision box” on course; I evaluate my lie, choose my shot and select my club in the “think” section, practice my swing and visualize the shot I want in the “feel” section, and then I set up to the ball and swing - no thoughts, I just go before tension sets in.

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1 hour ago, Chip Strokes said:

you’re doing so much work to your swing, you have to give your body a chance to take over and execute what you’ve been working on. 

otherwise your swing on the course will always be forced.  swinging a golf club is an athletic motion. you can’t think about how to be athletic.

Yeah, im going to give external thoughts a try. I don't think my internal swing thoughts ever have any benefit whatsoever on the course. 

Some of the best series of shots that I have hit on a course was while I was on a conference call, and was trying to pay attention to the call in case someone asked me a question. 

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Follow my golf journey to break into the 80s

Current tester for the Titleist TSi Driver

Spring 2020 MGS Tester for the Fujikura Motore X Shaft

Updated 12/27/2020
Driver:titelist-small: TSi 2 - Graphite Design AD-XC 6S
Hybrids:taylormade-small: SIM Max 3H, 4H - Matrix Ozik 85S
Irons:srixon-small: ZX5 5 - PW - Nippon Modus 120 S
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I picture the shot I want to hit, then I have 1 or maybe two swing thoughts to execute the shot for the practice swings, then I only have a setup check for the shot before picturing it in my head again.  Any more than that and I am practicing and not playing.

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