Swing Thoughts: Is it time to move past them?

I’ve been thinking alot about what should be in my head when I’m standing over the ball… in an ideal world, I’ve cleared my mind, envisioned the shot I’m going to hit, and now I’m going to make the swing necessary to hit that shot.

If I trust my swing, and have visualized the shot I’m about to hit, what good is a swing thought?

And maybe that’s the rub… I need to make sure I trust my swing, so I’m not thinking about what to do (or worse what NOT to do) and instead I’m just focused on the task at hand.

I’m still working on all this mindfulness stuff, so I’m not sure what others do… I feel like my best swings are mindless and I’m just trusting my body to complete an action… but I also think my worst swings are when I’m “not paying attention” and swinging aimlessly.

I think a good swing thought can bridge that middle ground, but part of me feels like I should set the goal of moving completely away from swing thoughts, focus on the results of my swing and try to get out of my own way… Though I’d still use swingthoughts on days where my mind and body aren’t properly synched.


I have only been playing for about 4 years but at this point in my game I find it almost impossible not to have a swing thought before starting my swing. I do much like Justin Thomas in that I take the club back a couple feet to make sure I stay connected to my torso and don’t take is back straight which is my tendency and causes a fade.

Once back on the ball I pick a piece of grass in front of the ball (1/2”) to focus on (I want my club to bottom out in front the ball) and cut loose. This has help me not hit behind the ball (fat) and was a tip from Shubhankar Sharma on a golf channel show.

I am not sure if this qualifies as having swing thoughts or not and I don’t have the visualize the shot thing happening. I pick my aim spot and then concentrate on my contact so distance can be as close as possible.


I definitely fall into the trap of thinking about my swing and getting the right feels throughout the swing rather than picking a target and reacting. Interestingly, last Friday I played a local course that I knew a lot better than my buddy. So I was telling him where to hit it quite often. On the holes where I did that, I generally striped my tee shot right where I told him to hit it (within an acceptable variance). Going to try to be more focused on target and less on swing, but it’s not easy to trust your swing when you’ve got 35 years of bad shots catalogued.


As a range rat, especially with my wedges I completely trust what is going to happen with those clubs, I wish I could say the same for my driver and 3w, I am working hard to build that confidence again. I have hit thousands of balls, the shorter clubs I am comfortable, the longer ones no control, etc. I do have a swing thought after my pre shot. That is in my mind counting like this. Back swing, I say one one thousand then on the down swing just 2 thousand. I’m trying to set and stay in a rhythm. Just my thing. To me anything else is brain overload


target focus or near external imo… re-read practice manual :slight_smile:


I recently finished reading “The Inner Golf Game” based on a recommendation from this forum. If you are a feel player, this is a MUST read IMO. No mechanics clouding my brain or swing thoughts to get me to “try” to make a certain swing…just the feel of “back, and hit”…no thoughts on mechanics or results.

It may not work for everyone, but it truly clears my mind and finally got me on an inside out path and drawing slightly or hitting straight my driver after 30 years of playing a slice and casting. Multiple lessons never did the trick, but this has.


Surely you jest.


what’s more popular? inhale or exhale on back swing

:grin: :sweat_smile: :rofl:


I’ve never destroyed my swing or my confidence in my swing faster than when I tried to think about my breathing during a swing…


We should meet up and play for money :rofl:


Ha, fortunately, I tend to ignore external help when headcasing.


sounds nice but, my orange dry joy saddle shoes might clash with yours :blush:


I actually painted the Nikes and they are gray saddle with pink trim. I got plain white and plain black NIkes last year though…boring, but universally matching.

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Agree with @papageorgio - read The Practice Manual by @Adamyounggolf. Explains all this in detail. I’d previously not heard of the different attentional focus types and now understand I was using an internal focus all the time while playing. Sports performance research has shown an internal focus is suboptimal for playing. I now use external or neutral (sounding out the tour tempo tones in my head).


I need to get back to reading it… most of my reading time is on my phone while my daughter falls asleep, so I need to find time to read a paperback!

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I’m guessing you have a high degree of trust in your swing when you walk to the 1st tee box. My approach is; “I’m here, this is my swing, let’s go”. My practice swings are nowhere near the ball. I stand several feet behind the ball, perpendicular to target. I’ve already envisioned the shot, then take one or two loose swings to remove tension and call up my swing thought, which is internal cadence/rhythm thing of “back and through”. Step up to the ball, settle in, go. The less time I’m over the ball, the better.


I have to think that whomever the first sheep-herder in Scotland all those years ago, hitting rocks over sand dunes with sticks, just sits back and laughs now at all the mental consternation their invention has caused so many of us over the years.


My notes from Golf is Not a Game of Perfect:

You don’t want many/any swing thoughts during your swing. Yet, when you do your one practice swing, many players will let swing thoughts creep in. This can bleed into your shot. Ideally, you have NO SWING THOUGHT, though Bob (Rotella) will let his students have ONE and only for shots longer than 120 yards.

For shots < 120 yards, just focus on your target.

Easier said then done, obv. :grin:


Great topic. Maybe the goal should be to eliminate the thinking of potential shot outcomes, swing analysis at the moment, and “extra” swing thoughts. I have found that my best shots normally come after only having a few swing shots, even on a out-of-sync day. Ironically I don’t visualize my shots at all. Though I’m still inconsistent, I try to focus just on execution because I know the two major weaknesses I have that may ruin a good shot. Though I have a good back swing, sometimes I slide back instead of rotating. And sometimes I have a tendency to come over the top a little (tomahawk).

I have reduced my swing thoughts to setup, lock (rotating back, not sliding), and drop (i.e. letting the club follow naturally from my swing motion instead of trying to use my arms (tomahawking). My only change is that if I want a fade, I replace “drop” with “right” (for the downswing). If I have multiple swing thoughts, doubts, etc. I can pretty much kiss a good shot goodbye.

Like @MJTortella said for him the 1000, 2000 works. I used to count a rhythm too, but now I do focus (at the setup), lock, and drop. It seems the trick is to keep swing thoughts to a minimum, whatever they are.


You’ve got the answer already.
Visualization and execute.

Best to take your “swing thoughts” back to the driving range for practice.
Swing thoughts on the golf course are for the newer golfer in the game who do not have a “game” to trust , just yet. Or a temporary patch job for golfers who’ll have a sudden issue that needed to stop the bleeding until they have time to figure out what happened.


Exhale if you need to hit it hard, like in any other sports…

Sorry, can’t resist it ! :smile:

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