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If You’re Playing Well, Shut Up!

Don't talk about your swing to preserve muscle memoryHave you ever had an amazing stroke, and then tried to explain what made your swing successful? It’s not an easy task!  Translating your golf swing into words can be very unnatural and difficult. This is no coincidence. New psychological research suggests that just talking about your swing can actually hurt your game.

The Danger of Words

In a study run by psychologists Kristin E. Flegal and Michael C. Anderson, 80 participants with varying levels of golfing experience took part in a putting exercise. The goal of the exercise was for participants to make three putts in a row. After completing the putting task, half of the participants spent 5 minutes writing a detailed description of everything they did while hitting the ball. The other participants did an unrelated activity for 5 minutes.

When the participants tried the putting activity again, something remarkable happened to the most experienced golfers. Higher skilled golfers who had spent 5 minutes analyzing their technique needed twice as many shots as before to make three putts in a row. Thinking and writing about their shots actually made these golfers worse!

Verbal Memory vs. Muscle Memory

Why did writing about their swings have such a negative effect on skilled golfers? A possible explanation is the “verbal overshadowing” effect. Verbal memory and muscle memory use different parts of the brain. The “overshadowing” phenomenon occurs when verbal memory gets in the way of muscle memory.  In the experiment, verbal memory (analyzing and writing about putting) disrupted the golfer’s muscle memory (actual putting ability). So when you are doing well on the golf course, don’t talk about it!

The Pocket Pin High Pro is a great way to build the muscle memory you need for a great swing. This ultraportable swing aid makes a clicking noise at the exact moment your weight shifts to your front foot. Practicing with the Pin High Pro year round helps users get to their front foot more consistently with fewer swing thoughts. Visit our online shop to order a Pocket Pin High Pro today!