Have you ever hit a putt that you thought was perfect but for some reason, the ball didn't fall in? So what happened -- didn't you try hard enough? Maybe if you tried a bit harder the ball would have gone in.
Obviously, that's stupid thinking. But when I watch a lot of people putting, they are trying really hard! I'm not pointing fingers either, because recently I've been guilty of this too. Everyone knows with putting that there's luck involved. You can hit a perfect putt and the ball may not go in. You can hit a putt that you swear was going to miss and it goes in. So why do we steer putts?
When you watch the pros on T.V, very rarely do you see them steer putts. They put a nice stroke on the ball, hold their finish, and watch the outcome. But most "average" golfers stroke the ball, never hold their finish, and are trying to guide the ball into the hole with their putter and body. Or in other words, trying too hard.
Look, when you putt you shouldn't overemphasize that you are trying to hole the putt. You shouldn't say things like "I need to hole this" or "come on, try really hard to hole this". That sort of thinking creates tension. And when you're tense while putting, for some reason the ball does not fall in. Instead, here's what you should do.
Pick a line and pace for each putt and focus on hitting the putt along the line you've chosen with good speed, then let the outcome take care of itself. Instead of trying to hole the putt, you should be trying to do the task of putting as well as you can. Then, again, let the outcome take care of itself.
What I'm talking about is focus. Focus on something you can control, e.g. your putting routine, your putting stroke, your mental attitude, your line, your speed. Don't focus on something you can't control, i.e. trying to hole the ball. Do this the next time you putt and you will hole more putts without trying.
The concepts of tension and focus relate to every shot you play. For example, if you're overly tense and steering your putts, you're more than likely going to be overly tense on your drives, your iron shots, your pitch shots, your chip shots, bunker shots, etc.
If as you're reading this and thinking about your golf game, you may see yourself steering your shots and feeling tense at the end of your swings, then this is a major problem for you. And the only way you're going to improve your golf game is by learning how to hit shots with ONLY the necessary amount of tension.
The Excessive Tension Test
If after your shots you feel really tense or are moving your body around trying to steer the ball, then you've swung with too much tension. You will never enjoy playing golf or play up to your true potential if you continue to do that.
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