Analysis Paralysis

Sunday 3rd February 2013

Yesterday I received an interesting note from a golfer in Australia. Read on even if you are not a golfer because it is a very typical comment applicable to all areas of life. She wrote,

‘Only started learning golf 2 years ago at age 44, I never get angry or upset when I’m playing but I can’t shut my mind up, every detail and technical process I have learn’t from my coach enters my thoughts and I end up tightening up and over thinking every shot and then most of them go to pot, at the end of a game I’m more mentally exhausted than physically.’

I replied, ‘This is very common, even with the best players. We call it ‘analysis paralysis’. It is brain overload, and this is an extract from my putting book which gives more details…..’

‘Information about the pace of the green can also be felt through your feet. This information includes the firmness or softness of the green, the springiness of the grass, or its degree of compaction. Add to this the information already gleaned from your sense of sight, and your brain is in meltdown. This is just way too much information for the conscious mind to process, and players who try to by the strength of their will power become stiff, or even freeze.

There is only one answer to this overload, and it is provided by the unconscious mind, assuming it is given permission to do so. The conscious mind has done its job. It is the equivalent of the loyal caddie, but there comes a time when the caddie has to step back and allow the player room to play his or her shot.

This is the cue for the unconscious mind to take over. Now it is time for a quiet mind, free from emotion, not caring, accepting that what will be will be. It is time to engage the autopilot, and trust that the hours of practice have been hardwired into your memory banks.

Players who have putted well in competition talk about how well they felt the pace of the greens, how their feel of the greens was good that day, and how they trusted their stroke. They may not mention their unconscious mind, but that was surely what they were using. The secret of their success was undoubtedly how effectively they balanced the conflicting agendas of both their conscious and unconscious minds.’

Authors write whole books about how to tap into the unconscious mind, and I am one of them. I suspect we all wish we could elegantly communicate to our readers just one simple mind tip to stay in the present, often known as mindfulness. Unfortunately it is not that simple. The best we can do is to give many examples of what has worked for others, and encourage our client to choose just the one that resonates with them the strongest.

What we do know is that this stuff does work, and the potential benefits are priceless. It is about the best investment you can make for yourself. Please feel free to post your experiences of what has worked well for you, so that we can all continue to learn from each other.

PS – Congratulations to David James, who has just won the final European Tour Senior Qualifying event with scores of 73-67-66-68. We spent two interesting hours chatting on the practice ground last month.

Best wishes, Steve
Dr. Stephen Simpson
MB ChB MFOM MBA | Medical Specialist | Elite Performance & Confidence Coach