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PUTTING SMARTER - just how do you do it to benefit from your effort?

  • The easy answer is to spend more time practising your putting. However, if you practise the wrong way, all you do is ingrain the bad habits that are preventing you from improving.
  • Practising Harder is not the equivalent of Putting Smarter. "Practice makes Perfect" is incorrect; only perfect practice leads to any significant improvement.
  • To putt smarter, you must learn a Method of Putting that is simple, fundamentally sound, and one that is easy to repeat under pressure.

Old Way

Unless you are just taking up the game of golf, you will have already learned a method of putting. It may not be a method of putting smarter, but nevertheless it is still a method that is stored in your subconscious mind.

The habits you have acquired over time must now be replaced with other habits, and this creates a problem.

Your brain is a pattern recognition masterpiece, which means we are programmed in our genes, as a means of survival, to replicate our behaviour, to preserve our genes.

This is both a wonderful piece of evolutionary programming and a complete pain in the backside when it comes to change.

Dr Karl Morris: Golf - The Mind Factor

New Way

Whenever you try something different, your brain will initially fight against accepting the New Way. It represents a threat to your existing knowledge and your brain seeks to block it. The scientific term for this is 'Proactive Inhibition'.

A New Way is a change, a departure from a programmed way of performing a particular task. The greater the change, the harder it will be for you to make the change successfully.

Old Way/New Way

Before you can habituate the NEW WAY, you have to somehow extinguish or suppress the OLD WAY. Unless you do so, you will revert under pressure to your familiar way of accomplishing the task. "Old Habits Die Hard" is not just an idle remark.

Some experts claim that only constant repetition over 28 consecutive days will over-ride the previous habit. Only then will your brain accept the New Way of putting smarter.

Other experts claim that you can never extinguish an old habit and that it will remain forever in your subconscious mind as part of your life’s experiences.

Everything you do or experience is filed away. What you must do is train your brain to retrieve from your data bank the file that represents the New Way (Putting Smarter) rather than the Old Way (Putting Dumb). 

By understanding the differences in technique you are in a sense tricking your brain into believing that the New Way is not challenging the Old Way.

Rather it is merely Another, or Second Way, of performing the same task. 

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Putting is a Motor Skill

Whatever the experts say, it all boils down to this. Putting is a Motor Skill, and like any other motor skill there are certain stages in the learning process, from Knowledge and Understanding to Implementation.

Discovery Learning, otherwise known as empirical experimentation, is one way of learning a motor skill. However, it is a slow process and does not always guarantee success. It is far quicker to use the experience of others (a role model) and build from this.

Stages of Learning

  • STAGE 1 of Learning is getting a fundamental picture of how a particular skill is performed. You achieve this through reading, observation, and questioning.

  • STAGE 2 of Learning is about how to perform the skill now that you have gather sufficient information to make a start.

    However, conceptually understanding how to do something is different from being able to do it.

    Knowledge does not automatically translate into performance. This is where practice and feedback are essential to getting a skill on board. This is practice with a purpose.

    The end of Stage Two is when you can perform the skill under practice conditions with conscious effort.

  • STAGE 3 of Learning is the real test of the acquisition of a skill. This is the ability to perform the skill under pressure when it counts.

    To do this you will have developed the skill to a level when you can perform it intuitively without conscious thought.

    You already do this with many everyday skills. For example, you don’t have to think about how to brush your teeth, you just do it. So much so that often you can’t remember if you have brushed your teeth or not.

    Conscious thought is replaced by intuitive feel directed by your subconscious.

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Putting Smarter

You will become a SMARTER PUTTER when you graduate from Stage 1 to Stage 3 of Learning.

  1. When you know and understand what it takes to be a better putter. 
  2. When you are capable of making a repetitive stroke that sends the ball away in a straight line at the right speed.
  3. And finally when you can putt in the moment with an empty mind, totally focused on the process so that the outcome of the putt takes care of itself.

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