Jordan Speith’s Mindset For Swing Changes

Golf Psychology

Why Golfers Struggle With Making Swing Changes

Many golfers find it difficult to implement swing changes when playing in tournaments. Old habits are hard to break and tend to pop up during increased pressure of tournament play.

The question is:

How can you make swing changes and perform well on the course?

Even Jordan Spieth, despite having a historic 2015 season, is searching for the same answer. Spieth’s story is quite remarkable and he is still motivated to “up the level of his game.”

Spieth was a successful junior player and won the U.S. Junior Amateur Championships twice to become only the second player ever to win multiple Juniors. Spieth was an American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) first-team All-American three times.

Spieth was invited to play in his first PGA Tour event, the HP Byron Nelson Championship, at the age of 16 and ended up tying for 16th.

Even in college, at the University of Texas, Spieth was accumulating accolades…

Spieth helped the Texas Longhorns win the 2012 NCAA Team Championship and was named first-team All-American as a freshman. That year, Spieth went on to win his first professional tournament, the John Deere Classic and became the youngest PGA Tour winner in 82 years.

To cap his first season on the Tour, Spieth was unanimously named 2013 Rookie of the Year.

As a 20-year old, Jordan followed his first year on the PGA Tour with continued consistency and strong performances. He recorded eight top-tens, with two 2nd place finishes.

Spieth was one of the youngest golfers ever to earn a spot on the United States Ryder Cup Team and won back-to-back titles at the 2014 The Emirates Australian Open and the 2014 Hero World Challenge.

Spieth had a stellar 2015 season with five victories and 15 total top-ten finishes. Spieth won two majors, the 2015 Masters Tournament and the 2015The U.S. Open Championship.

Spieth finished 2015 as the FedEx Cup Champion and No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings.

Yet, Spieth is still working to improve his play with his scoring clubs, from his wedge to his 7, 8, and 9-iron.

Spieth has worked on his technique for a couple of years but hasn’t fully mastered these swing changes come tournament play.

Spieth recognizes the need for a “new normal” when it comes to improved technique habits and has great insight into the process of the habit process.

It all comes down to mind training.

That’s right, training your mind to switch over to autopilot during tournaments.

First, Spieth recognizes that repetition and patience are key factors in modifying technique. Too often, golfers give up on modifications because they do not see immediate results. Consistent repetition trains your mind to develop that new normal.

SPIETH: “I’m actually working on the same thing, same kind of couple moves right now that I worked on throughout the 2015 season. For two years straight, trying to go against the way I originally learned how to swing the golf club and to load more into my back leg and get more of a full shoulder turn, and commit to that.”

It’s easier said than done but you need to trust your ability to implement these changes under the pressure of competition.

When you make changes in your swing, you have to extinguish the old habit (or motor memory) and replace with a new habit.

SPIETH: “I felt like I did a good job trusting it throughout those weeks [during the 2016 Australian Open and the 2016 Hero World Challenge]. And therefore, my ball-striking was much better. The weeks where I really, really have done a good job committing to it are my best ball-striking weeks on Tour. Trying to just get more and more consistent with it and almost create that as a new normal.”

Training your body to adopt a new habit is a matter of consistent repetition, patience and trust. If you follow that recipe, you will see improvements to your swing and tournament play.

Tips for Patience With Swing Changes

Experts in motor learning would agree that you need 30-60 repetitions per day for 30-60 days to form a new habit.

If you add the skill of visualization to your physical practice, you can speed up the process. Visualization gives you the benefit of added repetition without the wear and tear of beating balls.

Visualization coupled with physical practice will speed up the transfer of technique modifications to tournament play.

You also want to use feedback when your practice so you know you are working on the right movement.

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