Runnin' on Empty

Feature Article

Runnin’ on Empty?

Michael Riggs, M.Ed.

Are you aware that your brain, when in an intensely concentrated state, burns over 33% of the body’s available energy?

With this fact in mind, you should begin to consider ways to save mental energy and develop strategies to reduce the strain on your brain during a round of golf.

Consider this metaphor – you’re in your car waiting at a stoplight for the light to turn green, but instead of gently idling to keep your engine at a very low rpm, you put your left foot on the break and push your right foot on the gas pedal simultaneously. Your engine begins wail away. Your car wants to lunge forward but is held back because your breaks are applied. The roar of your engine may sound impressive, but you’re wasting fuel and adding strain to all of the systems of the car. For the first few stoplights this may not have noticeable effects. However, over an extended period of time it becomes clear that there are side effects, most noticeably you are running hot and burning fuel unnecessarily. Maintaining a high rpm between stoplights makes no sense.

Now then, let’s translate this to golf. Why do players remain in “high rpm mode”, often referred to as “grinding”, between shots?  At first, there may not be noticeable physical or mental side effects of this mode, but just like the automobile, the player will begin to “run out of gas” at critical times during a round – often when things matter most.

The concept of “shot cycling” is an important and very learnable skill for all players at all levels.

The beginning of a shot cycle is when the player is deciding on shot and club selection. This is where information and data is collected pertaining to the lie of the ball, wind direction and speed, club choice and shot, and such.

Once the club and shot have been selected, the next phase of the shot cycle is the initiation and completion of his pre-shot routine — bringing him into a highly committed, concentrated, confident, and composed state.

The next phase of the shot cycle is the swing itself — which includes takeaway, swing, and finish.

The last phase of the shot cycle is the post-shot routine. This often overlooked phase is where the player quickly analyzes the swing and the outcome. The player needs to become skilled to recognize the positives, offer self-encouragement, if necessary, and switch into “low rpm mode”. This mode is where he settles down mentally, physically, and emotionally – letting go of any remnants of negativity — and sets off walking to his ball ready to repeat the shot cycle.

Save mental fuel.  Shot cycle, 72 times each round.

S² Tip

Think of a round of golf as a series of independent and separate shot cycles.

Success Story

Congratulations to Ryan Hudson on his runner up finish at the Championship at Geneva National, Lake Geneva WI.

In Another’s Words…

“Do not fear going forward slowly; fear only to stand still.”

— Chinese Proverb