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Think about it, but not too much…

“Don’t slice it…strong grip…close the face…tuck the elbow in…straight takeaway…don’t come steep…don’t hit it too hard…”


If you’re anything like me, these thoughts are all too common. They creep in after a bad tee shot, and suddenly I’m overwhelmed with swing thoughts about how I can correct my swing and get my round back on track. Inevitably I end up overthinking my swing and that causes my day to spiral and I could happily walk off the course and never look back.


Despite this, there is the argument that one, or maybe two, swing thoughts can be beneficial for your game but why is this, and how many is too many?

Don’t overthink it

Your golf game is normally at its best when it’s coming naturally. You’re swinging freely and not having any technical thoughts. But should a few wayward shots creep into your round, then the thoughts begin as you try to correct it before your score racks up.

The best thoughts are the ones that aren’t too invasive and are very specific to a certain shot. Therefore focussing on a singular key aspect, and maintaining only this thought throughout the swing, for example, if you’re having an issue with coming over the top with your driver your swing thought may be “tuck in my back elbow”.


By keeping these thoughts to a minimum, and knowing what works for you personally you are able to keep your mind free and hit the shots you know you’re capable of. By mastering this, you’re able to get your round off to a flying start, and get it back on track should it start slipping.

Owning your thoughts

As with anything, it is important to understand what works best for you. In this instance understanding the swing thoughts that most resonate with you and cause the least intrusion is key when trying to own your swing thoughts.


Similarly, acknowledging the thoughts that aren’t relevant to your swing, or you find detracting from your performance and being able to remove these is vital. This will help you reduce the number of thoughts at any one time, and focus on the shot at hand.


Spend some time at the range, see where potential swing faults can come into play, and the thoughts you need to correct these. Make sure these thoughts definitely work for you and put pressure on yourself within your practice and your more laid-back rounds to guarantee that these thoughts work for you within the competition.

Closing thoughts

Swing thoughts are a part of the game that it is almost impossible to avoid. Unless you picked the game up at a young age they are often inevitable as the skills aren’t hardwired into us. For this reason, it is vital that you reduce these as much as possible, selecting and focussing on only the thoughts that are beneficial to your performance.

To find out more

For more psychology resources visit psych-chek. To learn more about the swing thoughts in professional golfers, have a read of this research conducted in 2007.

About the Author

Luke Vidler

An amateur golfer and recent graduate of Chichester University. I have both a BSc and MSc in Sport and Exercise Psychology and am keen to utilise my knowledge in practical situations, even if I can’t help myself!

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