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The Skill of Body Language - How it can make you a Winner!

The Skill of Body Language – How it can make you a Winner!

The Skill of Body Language – How it can make you a Winner!

Golf Chats is a website to encourage discussions on various subjects relating to the game of golf. I am Mel Sole, Director of Instruction of the Mel Sole Golf School and SAPGA Master Professional.  I invite you to enter into a discussion on this or any article on the website.  The input is for the entire subscriber base to learn something new each time!  Please post your comments below.  Keep it clean and tasteful.  We are here to learn from one another!

My father had a very keen eye for body language.  He could tell from a fairway away whether I was playing good or bad.  He tried to teach me how to walk with my head high and chest out no matter how I was playing.  The example he used was the great Bobby Locke, winner of 4 British Open Championships.  “When Bobby comes walking up the 18th fairway, you don’t know whether he just shot 60, 70 or 80.”  I didn’t implement this in my early career. Only now, as a seasoned teaching professional working with many golfers of all levels, have I learned just how important body language is.  So you can see why this article caught my attention.  Read this.  It will improve your golf game!  Thanks so much to  writing for Golf Digest, for this interesting and game-changing article!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Amy Cuddy, Ph.D., is a social psychologist and associate professor at Harvard Business School. Her 2012 TED Talk, “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are,” has been viewed 34 million times. Published in December 2015, her best-selling book Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges analyzes how posture affects performance.Assistant Editor Keely Levins interviewed Cuddy on her theories and how they apply to golf.

Q: Your TED Talk and your book focus on power posing. What do we need to know?

People tend to think body language is about communicating with others, not with the self. Body language is really about what your body is saying to you, not what you’re saying to other people. When you use your body to respond to situations, especially stressful situations, in a powerful way, it becomes self-reinforcing. I deal with this a lot in business settings, but elite athletes know it’s true. Sport-psychology studies show that posture influences a person’s performance.

What does it look like to respond powerfully?

Power is about taking up space. The ultimate power pose is what gymnasts do right before their routines, when their arms and heads go up. That pose is the universal sign of power and pride and victory. I’m not saying you should be doing that on the golf course. Anything that takes up space will work. When you’re just standing, make sure you have your feet set wide apart and your hands on your hips. When someone else is hitting, don’t hunch over. Take up space.

The Skill of Body Language – How it can make you a Winner!

It’s the same when you’re walking between shots. You can be powerful then, too. Expansive movement is as important as expansive posture. So take long strides when you walk, swing your arms. You want to move boldly and put some vertical bounce in your step. Carry yourself with your shoulders back and down instead of slumping or pinning your arms down.

No matter what shot you’ve just hit, try to keep yourself from tensing up. Remember to breathe deeply and slowly. This is a time for you to be secretly doing golfer yoga. You’ll be preparing to perform while everyone else is thinking about the last shot—or the next shot—or just talking.

The Skill of Body Language - How it can make you a Winner!
Photo by Getty Images

How does that work to make you ready to play your best?

We know that standing and moving with some purpose makes you feel powerful. Study after study shows that. And when you feel powerful, all of a sudden you see challenges not as threats but as opportunities. You’re much more likely to want to compete. Your executive function is better, so you can think more clearly. Your working memory is better. You’re not second-guessing yourself so much. You’re more able to be present and to focus on what’s in front of you instead of what you fear might be happening.

It’s easy to get frustrated after a bad shot. What happens when you let yourself slip into a non-powerful pose?

There aren’t many people who are going to play golf and not feel a little competitive. It’s almost impossible to do it recreationally and not want to do it well. But you’re not going to play well if you’re focused on winning. You want to do it well? Fine. The first thing you have to do is stop focusing on getting the best score. When you focus on winning or score, your body goes into a fight-or-flight mode. You’re feeling threatened, and when you feel threatened, your nervous system is no longer about performance. It’s now about getting you out of that situation. That completely undermines your ability to play well.

The Skill of Body Language – How it can make you a Winner!

When you’re in this threatened state and feeling powerless, your heart rate can go through the roof, which is the last thing you want. Your cognition takes a nose dive. You lose your ability to focus on a goal. You lose creativity, your view of optimism, your self-confidence, and you’re less likely to take risks. These are all things that you need in a round of golf, and you’ve just lost them. You even lose the ability to see objects from a perspective other than your own. Say your shot has ended up behind some trees. If that makes you feel threatened or anxious, you’re not able to see alternative perspectives. You’re less likely to hit a good shot when there are obstacles, because you don’t have the creativity or perspective necessary to do it.

The Skill of Body Language - How it can make you a Winner!

It’d be impossible to play well with all of those negative things going on. How do you pull out of that spiral?

You need to be sturdy, strong and super calm. There are two categories of things that will get you there. One is your body posture, which we’ve just talked about. Anything where you start to curl into a ball, even if it’s subtle, is the worst thing you can do. Whenever you have any small failure, stop yourself from collapsing, because collapsing will only make you feel worse.

Two is your mind-set. You need to focus on little nudges as goals instead of score-based goals. Something where you get lots of tries, like I’m going to make sure I finish my swing today.

Focusing on score does not make you a better golfer. Focusing on the movement itself, in that exact moment, that’s what can make you a better golfer. You’re going to gradually get better, but it’s noAmyt a perfect linear relationship. You’ll have some ups and downs as you go, and that’s OK. The funny thing is, if you focus on those little nudges, the pieces start to come together, and you have a cognitive memory and a muscle memory of doing it well. Ultimately, it will be easier to get to that thing you wanted, which was shooting a low score or winning.

To read the other 5 important aspects of body language, go here!

Source:    Golf Digest

Pictures: Getty Images

Thanks for reading – The Skill of Body Language – How it can make you a Winner!

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