Breaking Slumps and Plateaus

Maybe the single biggest handicap in golf is thinking too much and wanting too desperately to get good fast! While I love to see excited, passionate people playing the game, golf is a finesse sport that requires masterful control of the mind and body. A "try softer" approach almost always works better.

Unfortunately, many golfers fall into the trap of overanalyzing their swing, practicing the same things too much and, sometimes, just trying too hard. Over the course of weeks and months, this approach stresses the nervous system in a way that you'll begin to lose your "feel" and swing. A performance plateau--or even a bonafide slump--may be developing, despite all your practice time and effort.

There is a simple solution, however--take a week or two off! Professional athletes in a variety of sports have noticed that their skills and "feel" are sharper after taking some time off. Tour pros know this secret and, thus, commonly take a week or two off ahead of a major event. During this "rest period", the nervous system "resets" itself allowing a more intuitive sense of the golf swing to resurface. It's no coincidence that the majority of Tiger Wood's wins, including his record Masters victory in 1997, occured after taking a week or more off from competitive play.

So next time your game begins to slide, put the clubs away and do something else for a few days or even a couple of weeks. Go to the beach, go camping, take a vacation, or polish off some important project at home or work--the key is to focus on and do anything but golf. After this respite, return to golf with no expectations other than to have fun. Refocus on the fundamentals and let your hard-earned skills do the rest. You'll be pleasantly surprised to find yourself swinging more smoothly, putting with more feel, and playing with a new level of enjoyment.

Wishing you the best, both on and off the links! --L.A.

Lisa Ann Hörst is Lancaster, PA-based teaching pro. Her new book, Golf Training: The Secrets to Effective Practice and a Lower Score (Finally!), is being heralded as "the most comprehensive guide to better golf" available that will "positively transform your game."

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