Golf Tips Newsletter
Issue 733 - October 12, 2022
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USGTF Class "A" Teaching Professional
WGTF "Top 100" Teacher
IGPA Certified Golf Psychology Coach


Master The Motion Before You Master The Shot.
"15 Minutes of Body Action Drills Are More
Important Than Hitting 200 Balls"

Tom's Featured Tip: Effective Swing Thoughts

Lesson Comments: What Students Have To Say
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Effective Swing Thoughts

For simplicity, all advice on actual swings or drills is provided from a right handed perspective.

Two Great Training Aids For Indoor or Outdoor Practice

The Divot Board

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Effective Swing Thoughts

What to think about before you swing the club, or what not to think about before you swing the club, or even not thinking about anything before you swing the club has always been a controversial subject in the game we all love.

When I coach a student, I give advice in that area based on how each individual student reacts to my instructions as we work on their swing proficiency.

I recently read an interesting article on the subject, and a few points that were made may help those of you who are self taught.

Here it is with a few editorial comments sprinkled in. Please note that I may not agree completely with every point presented below, but I feel that for the sake of learning - different points of view are essential.

The trick to finding your best swing thought is through self-discovery, past experience, and experimentation.

What Is Your Learning Style?

Knowing what "type" of learner you are will make a difference in how you make swing changes and what swing thoughts will work best during your rounds.

Studies show that someone who is more "left brained" (logical, analytical and verbal) can get better results when they have technical cues during their swing (some individuals are naturally more capable of a higher "cognitive load" and multiple swing thoughts). They see things as a structured process i.e. if I do A, B, C and D, I know that I am more likely to achieve a good swing and a good outcome.

On the other hand, those who are more "right brained" (visual, artistic and intuitive), typically swing better when there is less cognitive load or very little conscious awareness of their movement during the swing. Knowing this about yourself is a good place to start.

The Benefits of Swing Thoughts
  • They can keep you focused on something productive during your swing instead of what you donít want to happen
  • They can keep your conscious mind occupied with something simple so that your athletic mind can swing the club
  • They can help you maintain good tempo and keep tension low

The Dangers Of Swing Thoughts

"There are too many moving parts in the swing for them to be consciously controlled." Bobby Jones
  • If a player starts to get overly technical and switch between swing thoughts throughout a round, it usually hinders performance. They can get more and more absorbed in controlling physical action which limits athletic movement and fluidity

  • With too many swing thoughts, a player can be less focused on the target/intention and more focused on their movement. The swing becomes too deliberate and less reactive to the target and intention.

  • Having swing thoughts and trying to control the swing can increase tension affecting timing and sequence of the movement
We all focus on something during our swing. Itís impossible not to focus on anything during the swing, so itís always going to be better to have your focus on something productive than let your mind wander wherever it wants to.

Like all aspects of the mental game, swing thoughts should be planned and practiced.

Here are some swing thoughts for you to experiment with:


One thing that most golfers arenít aware of is the amount of tension they have in their swing. In fact, this is the main cause of the swing changing from round to round or from the driving range to the course. It can be especially worse if youíre feeling nervous or you start to lose control of the ball.

Focusing too much on your swing can cause it too.

Always practice tension awareness on the driving range and be able to feel it before and during the swing in the hands and body. If you can sense your level of tension that produces your best shots, then "feeling" and maintaining that during the swing will always be helpful.

Technical Cues

Technical cues are unique to the individual but should be kept as simple as possible. They are typically things that you know help you help you hit good shots.

On the PGA Tour, you can tell that Justin Thomas and Justin Rose (who are more "technical" players) focus on rehearsing particular parts of their swing before their shots.

However, simplicity is key here - you donít want to overload your "working memory" and interfere with the movement centers of your brain.

Technical Cue Examples are:
  • "weight forwared"
  • "left shoulder down takeaway"
  • "still head"
  • "tuck hips"
Auditory Swing Thoughts

When we feel pressure on the golf course or we have too many technical thoughts, one of the first things to be affected is tempo.

Tempo is important as it controls the timing and sequencing of the several moving parts of the golf swing. When your timing is off, so will the direction of the club-face be at impact. Although tempo swing thoughts can benefit all players, because itís about sound, it could be more effective for players who are more auditory or musical.

Examples of tempo swing thoughts are words or songs/music/beats that help you swing at your optimal tempo. Tempo swing thoughts can also help take any focus away from anything mechanical and keep the swing nice and fluid.

Verbal Swing Thoughts

Saying certain words before and during your swing can have an affect on your movement. Words can create emotions which can help create your motion. Examples are:
  • "Smooth,
  • "Powerful",
  • "Athletic",
  • "Balanced".
External vs Internal Focus

The concept of External and Internal Focus was coined by Dr. Gabrielle Wulf, a Professor of Motor Learning at the University of Nevada. She conducted research and experiments over many years which looked at the effect of where an athlete put their focus during movement. External focus is when you keep your focus on what the effect of the movement will be, rather than the movement itself.

For example when you throw a basketball you are probably just looking at the basket and throwing the ball. That is external focus - a task led focus.

If I was to say to you to be aware of the angle of your wrists and how far your arms go back to throw the ball, that would be internal focus - a movement led focus.

Itís obviously easier in a sport like basketball where you are facing the target while throwing the ball.

In golf you donít see the target while you swing the club, which is why the pre shot routine and putting the sensations of the shot to memory is so important.

Dr. Wulfís studies concluded that the performance of players was improved when golfers (all various ability levels) focused on something external such as:
  1. Visualizing the ball flight
  2. The target
  3. Focusing on your connection with the ground
  4. Staying balanced
  5. Anticipating the feel of the strike at impact
  6. Being aware of the clubhead

If you want to find out more about Dr. Wulfís study of attentional focus on motor learning, read her book: Attention and Motor Skills Learning. I read it. and although it's not dedicated to golf, it's a very interesting read.

If you don't want to buy the book (it's expensive), you can read this pdf on her study for free: ATTENTIONAL FOCUS AND MOTOR LEARNING : A REVIEW OF 10 YEARS OF RESEARCH

Most golfers work mostly on their swing during practice, instead of practicing a if they are playing. There are several problems with this, one being that they train themselves to be technical and internal, rather than intuitive and external.

What you do in practice will transfer over to the golf course, so make sure you spend some of your practice session with the same swing thought you will take to the course.

Try it, you'll like it.

Email Comments: to

"Clear Intentions Simplify Execution"
Mike Bennett and Andy Plummer, The Stack and Tilt Swing

Love your practice, own your swing, own your health,


Golf Lessons

I am now conducting lessons at The Batavia Country Club

Lessons are available for all ages and skill levels, please contact
me - Tom Tucker - at (716) 474 3005 or email me at
for more information.

Outdoor Lessons Details and Rates:


Sponsors and Affiliates

Buying a sponsored product through any of my affiliate links helps support this free newsletter, and I only affiliate with excellent products that I use myself.  Thanks, Tom

Batavia Country Club   (585) 343-7600
Great rates, the best greens in WNY.
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Tee times online or by phone in season.
FISH FRYS AT BCC and other delicious dinner specials with soup and salad bar - Fridays, 4pm - 9pm

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All the best,

Tom Tucker
Teaching Professional, Batavia Country Club
WGTF ' "Top 100 Golf Teacher"
USGTF Class "A" Teaching Professional
IGPA Certified Golf Psychology Coach
Cell: (716) 474-3005

"There are no substitutes in the quest for perfection1"
~ Ben Hogan