Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Remember To Forget

I'll always remember the excitement I felt driving to my first golf lesson. "This is going to be awesome!" I thought.  "I'm going to learn so much, and immediately be able to drop my handicap by at least 5 strokes." Unfortunately, the imagined excitement quickly turned to, "What the hell is he talking about..." 

The first words out of the best golf pro in Santa Barbara: "I'm going to teach you a lot of great things, all of which I want you to immediately forget!" What was this dude smoking?! I'm going to commit myself to spending countless number of hours on the practice range, but you don't want me to remember any of your advice??


What I initially thought was insanity soon became brilliance, and plays a major role in the way I teach today. He wanted me to understand that he was going to fill my conscious mind with a ton of information, but when I eventually learned to play with my unconscious mind, I'd play the best golf of my life.

When we're learning something new, we have no choice but to be consciously aware of the different type of mechanics, but our goal should be to quickly turn those conscious thoughts into unconscious feelings.  "Feeling the situation" is somewhat abstract, I know, but it simply means to let go of the memorization of information, and trust that our unconscious brain will execute. 

The conscious part of our brain is in a constant battle with the unconscious, fighting for control at all times. It's the component that thinks and memorizes, whereas the unconscious only feels, senses, and reacts. At first glance, it seems that we must "think" about what we're doing in order to have the desired result, but that's an illusion. We must forget everything we've learned, get out of the way of ourselves, and allow the unconscious to take over.

A few weeks after my first golf lesson, I left a message on my pro's cell phone --

"Mark, who needs you... I forgot everything you ever taught me, shot my all-time best score, and won the tournament. You're fired!"


Erica Cano said...

ill be the 1 out of 201 :)

so i was talking to this mom a couple weeks ago about the technical aspect of her son's game. she was very concerned because when she asked him what he should be focusing on he repeated all the normals i.e. racket back, swing through, low to high, blahblahblah. she said she didnt send him to camp for the basics, she wanted him to become a finely tuned machine who knows every nuance of tennis.

i said to her that tennis is about hitting great shots, but that great shots dont come from memorizing a handbook on tennis. great shots come from the heart, not from the brain, and the only way that they get to the heart is with love, confidence and experience with the game.

this post reminded me of that conversation.. she was one of those over-zealous mothers who dont really let her kid chose what they want.

on a completey unrelated topic.. i was thinking abou a conversation we had almost a year ago about A-game vs. C-game. i played THEEEE worst tennis of my life today. i had 7 double faults in one game..the first game actually.. and i was FREAKING out. and then i remembered that conversation and i felt a lot better. instead of trying to blast i played smarter.. focusing on one shot at a time and playing tough hitting patterns instead of wacking winners like im used to. it took a few games, but eventually i got it back :)

Dayne Gingrich said...

I love your analysis of where great tennis comes from... "the heart, not the brain..."

That's so true-- most players (of all sports) believe that if they "think" and memorize, success will follow. The opposite actually occurs. The more you think, the worse the result.

Also, glad to hear you brought your game back to specific patterns and only one point. All you've got is THIS point, as you know... yet often "forget" to apply. I say forget because you still think too much, rather than feeling your points!

Phil-theincredibleshrinkingman said...

what you said about unconcious learning is so true, sue to my weight i stopped playing golf a couple of years ago, anyway i recently went to the driving range and began slugging balls, when i was trying to think how to hit the balls i kept making a complete hash of it, however after 20 or 30 balls i began to settle down and just concentrate on my breathing and hey presto i was sending those balls nicely down the range.