How to keep breakthroughs from slipping away

So I read something interesting on a a forum last night.

The poster wrote that he often experiences breakthroughs while on the range, but they disappear as quickly as they came the next time he plays golf or practices.

I would bet almost everybody goes through this.

So how can you take a breakthrough and build on it, rather than letting it slip away?

Imagine what would happen if every breakthrough you had practicing, stayed with you?  You would quickly become an excellent golfer.  You would have a more consistent repeatable swing.  And you would have more fun on the golf course.

Here’s why breakthroughs don’t last.

  1. We don’t document what we did.
  2. If we do document, we document the wrong thing
  3. We try to extend the breakthrough
  4. If we can’t get it back quickly, we forget about it

We don’t document what we did

One of the best things you can do is keep track of your progress in some kind of written form.  A notebook, a pad, a laptop, or even a blog will do.  I hard that Annika Sorenstam kept copious notes of every practice session, every practice round and that she has notebooks filled with her insights, thoughs, and feelings.  Those are invaluable.  As golfers we go through periods when we are playing well, and periods when we’re not.  The game is filled with ups and downs.

It’s nice when you’re not playing well, to look back at times when you were, see what you were doing right, and it might spark some new enthusiasm or just get you back on track.  That is actually one of the main reasons I started this blog.  I know that any time I’m not playing well, I can just come back to this blog, see when I was playing well, and read some entries around that time.  It might lead to an a-ha moment that can set me on the right track.

If we do document, we document the wrong thing

If we do take notes of our practice sessions we tend to write about the wrong things.  We may write about some mechanical aspect of it.  Our elbow was here, or my feet were set like this…etc.  I think it’s more important to document feelings.  What felt right about the swing.  What did you feel in your body, your hands.  What was your mindset like?

These things are more important because they change how you approach your practice sessions.  By focusing on feelings you can learn to recreate those.  By recreating feelings you are more likely to get back to the results you were having that day.  If your swing has changed over time, the mechanics that you look at or remember, may no longer apply.  In fact you may be doing more damage by trying to work those mechanics back into your swing.

We try to extend the breakthrough

Ever notice that when you’re striking it particularly, there is a feeling of “wow, if I’m hitting it this far at 85%, I can really get it out there at 100%”.  These thoughts are deadly.  What happens is that you then lose the success.  The breakthrough dissipates and is not heard from again.  What happened here?

You tried to extend the breakthrough.  You tried to make it do more instead of keeping it, feeling it, and making it a part of your swing.  It’s sort of like killing the goose to get the golden eggs.

If we can’t get it back quickly, we forget about it

Ah defeat.  You’ve lost the breakthrough because you killed the goose.  Now what?  If you can’t get it back you wind up forgetting about it and hoping another breakthrough comes along.  It will, but you’ll probably lose it again unless you change what you do when you get a breakthrough.

So what should you do?

Focus on the things that are re creatable.  Mainly how things feel in your body, and your mindset.  At first it will be difficult to document how the swing feels.  Over time you will get better a describing it.  In describing it you’ll be accomplishing two things.  You’ll make the feeling more real so you’re body will remember it better, and your creating a document you can look back on to get you back on track when things are off.

It’s just as important to describe your mindset.  If you can get back to into the same mindset you will probably start to get those results back.  If you combine the mindset with the feelings, you should be able to quickly get back on track.

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