Friggin’ Brain

One of the ironies of golf is that you have to really use your brain, but it can also can kill your game. Learning how and when to use it is the key to good golf. The brain and the body should have a dialogue. However, if your brain is speaking when the body should be swinging, you’re gonna’ play bad golf. After their best rounds, all golfers say the same thing: “I wasn’t thinking about anything. I just let is happen.” Turning off the brain at the right time is crucial.

Standing over the ball at address for more than a few seconds rarely produces good results. If you linger over the ball on any golf shot, all your brain is doing is creating doubt and fear. I know, I know. You’re going through a check-list of all the things that you need to remember before you swing. While running through your mental list of to-do’s may seem like a positive, this practice is actually sabotaging your game.

Concentrating harder does not equate to better results. The opposite is actually true. If you let yourself be an athlete over the ball and turn your brain off during the swing you will have better results. You’ll swing more freely and you’ll have a lot more fun.

Scientists have determined that the brain can only think about one thing at a time. The key is to distract the brain from from thinking about golf while in the address position. In fact, Golfpsych, one of the top mental training programs employed by tour pros, recommends that many of their golfers think about anything other than golf between shots. Sometimes even while over shots.

Vision 54, another golf mental training program, teaches golfers to cross what they call the “commitment line.” You can think about technical things while you are behind the ball, but once you are over the ball you must rely on your athletic skill and intution. If while over the ball you start having technical thoughts you must then step away from the ball, clear your mind and start your pre-shot routine again.

What we need is a little self-hypnosis. When you drive your car to work you don’t think about what you’re doing or how it happens very often because we’ve done it thousands of times. Poof, you magically arrive without much conscious effort. You just let it happen. Your mind was elsewhere. You were on auto-pilot.

I like to have my golfers swing the club as soon as possible after they address the ball, not allowing time for the brain to do bad things. Brandt Snedecker does this. He commits, steps in and hits it. I work with many of my students to  determine the ideal amount of time it takes for them to get comfortable and then swing. On the range, I count out loud to train them on their timing. At first, most of them feel rushed, and you may, too. This makes sense, because almost everyone takes too long over the ball. As a coach I work together with my players to shorten their time.

While I count the player will settle into the shot. He sets his feet; sometimes there is a waggle of the club or a tug on the shirt. Each golfer has his own unique way of addressing the ball. I will count slowly, “5… 4… 3… 2… 1.” When I say, “one,” it is time to pull the trigger. Ready or not. Boom! Players are always amazed at how much more frequently they hit the ball great, once they employ the countdown. They quickly realize all of the prep work they used to do was no help at all. If fact, it hurt them! This is a very liberating discovery. Greatness was there all the time, hiding behind that friggtin’ brain.

The countdown is a great pre-shot routine to adopt because if your brain is busy counting, you are not thinking about your swing, or O.B., or hazards, or score. Thinking about that stuff keeps you from playing your best. The countdown helps get you into auto-pilot mode.

Get over the ball. Tell your brain to shut up. And swing! Make sure you yell, “Boom!” while the ball is screaming through the air.

Each month I will be doing another piece about the Friggin’ Brain.

Thanks for following. If you find this helps you please come back I’d love to hear your comments!


  • What I love about Coach Fruisen’s approach to teaching golf is he makes it easy for the average golfer to understand and more importantly apply it to our game.

  • Mental training has been a huge weakness of mine, but applying these simple solutions, I have seen a great improvement in my game as a whole. But more importantly I am more confident in my mental approach to each individual shot. Coach Fruisen has created a great technique that can only improve everyones mental game and is impossible to hinder it.

  • So interesting, Babe. Same is true with the creative process: both left & right sides of the brain are required. The trick (so they say) is knowing when to employ Left, when to tell Left to pipe down and allow Right to do it’s thing.

    Go bees.


    ~ wife

  • Great article Coach, I think you should be teaching this to Kevin Na. I remember watching Na down the stretch at the Players last year backing off almost every shot. Based on this article its no surprise the Matt Kuchar was able to comeback and beat him.

  • Coach I definitely agree with everything you said in this article. At home I play at Bethpage state park and am often paired with below average golfers. One thing I always notice is how long they take over the ball thinking about the intricacies of their swing which only hinders their ability to hit good shots. I definitely think that getting up over the ball and only thinking about your target is the best way to play golf.

  • Coach, we worked on this in the hitting room over the offseason. You told me to draw an imaginary box around the golf ball, and once I got in the box let my athleticism take over. No thinking, just trust in myself, my practice, and muscle memory. It really allowed me to take free, careless rips at the golf ball, and while trying this strategy, I never miss hit one.

  • Coach,
    I really like this article. This is something that I often struggle with. I will get over the ball and a flaw from my previous shot or previous round will pop into my head I will attempt to fix it on that swing. It never works. I always find a way to mishit that shot and then become slightly more frustrated. I am glad I finally read this article; it is definitely something I need to work and on to lower my scores.

  • Coach, this article really hits home for me. When I’m playing poorly, I’m usually thinking about my swing, and thinking about where not to hit the ball. I’ve come to realize that I just need to be confident in my ability once I am over the ball. You’re never going to hit a good shot if you’re afraid that you might make a mistake before you make contact.

  • Figuring out ways to react to the golf ball instead of thinking your way through a swing is what I have been working on as a main goal in order to improve my golf game for the spring season. Considering most golfers view golf as an athletic movement, they should also realize that all athletic movements are honed by repetition and not by an over analysis. Basketball players don’t think about their form when they shoot…they just try to make it in the basket. I play a bunch of other sports and have treated golf differently because I have always had a skewed perspective on how to approach the game. Most of the time, being methodical on the course can be a hinderance and I think there are many golfers who will benefit from taking this article to hearticle.

  • Very well written coach, I was always raised to have a swing cue when addressing the ball in such a way that the physical side of the brain would be triggered. My old swing coach from high school would always have me lift my feet and tap my toes back in forth to switch from the mental to physical part of the body. This articles perfectly demonstrates the necessity to “stay out of your own head”. Any other sport its second nature to not over analyze, why should it in golf? With proper mental focus and training, this article shows that you can hone your game by honing the stresses in your head.

  • Definitely over thinking my game. I need to be thinking about the what not the how.

  • I definitely used to over think until I read “Zen Golf” which said the exact same thing. standing over the ball brings up way to many things in the mind. If you think about putting a fork full of food to your mouth as much as some people think about their golf swing you might even come close to missing your mouth. I still have a problem of standing over the ball for to long. I got in the habit last year of counting like you said, but I have fallen out of habit and I need to get back to doing so. Thanks coach really enjoyed this article.

  • Mackenzie Nelson

    This is something I can really struggle with sometimes, especially when I am going through a swing change or when I am not hitting the ball as solid as I would like. I have tried the countdown drill but I haven’t implemented it very strictly. I think standing over the ball for a shorter amount of time could only help me because at times I tend to over think my swing and the game itself. Great article!

  • Mitchell Campbell

    Great point Coach! This is something that Webb Simpson mentioned in your interview with him. It really is kind of weird when you think about all of the things we do on a regular day basis without thinking. Hitting the ball needs to become more routine after all we do it all the time! I have tried the counting technique in the past and have never been able to stick with it… I tend to stand over the ball for a fairly short period of time but counting can never hurt. I really want to give it another try.

    • If I’m picturing what you are saiyng correctly, yes. Ironically, I was working on a blog entry very similar to what you are saiyng. In a lesson yesterday, I had my student simulate impact against a pole on the range he then hit wonderful shots because the muscle image was still fresh and he just reproduced it with a drill. This is not finished yet but I think you will get the idea. I will do a video soon.Here is the post draft:Use A Kinesthetic Drill to Map Impact for Recall If you setup in a doorway with the door jamb opposite your front hip socket, then simulate impact by putting the palm of your back hand on the jamb, and turning your core to push against the jamb (rotating like the downswing, not sliding forward), you will push on the jamb and actually program or map this feeling in your brain, Kinesthetically. So why would you want this? Well, it is teaching the muscles the feeling of what you want to achieve through impact. It is kind of like recording a mental picture of all of your muscles (turning and pushing), that you will recall just before you swing. Then once you’re setup, recall the feeling of the drill then go. The visualization is so fresh in your mind, your body will reproduce it.

  • Great article coach a lot of good points made. I started counting down from 5 seconds before hitting the ball and the results have increased my confidence over the ball and I am hitting straighter.

  • Coach, today you helped me find the average time I spent over the ball and it helped my constant problem of over thinking tremendously. I am a big believer in having a pre shot routine on every shot I take and I feel that this will help me follow that pre shot routine every time. As I kept hitting today I found myself returning to bad habits such as gripping tighter. To stop this in the future I think that going threw my full pre shot routine before the majority of my shots on the range. Also, I especially need to concentrate on my swing thoughts during my practice swing. Any tips to have my swing thoughts of my practice swing carry over without using my brain over the ball?

  • Miel Mapa-Sadhwani

    After reading this, I realized that I have been thinking of at least 5 different things when I’m addressing the ball. And I’m a visual thinker, so I will actually see a list in my head, like an imaginary notepad. I didn’t realize how terrible this is for my mental state as I begin my backswing. This article is extremely insightful.

  • After I read this amazing article I feel like it was written for me because I think many thing, when I take a position to hit the ball, I think is my ball position is correct? Is my stand too far away? And I start to get little fear about bad shots. I’m good when I practice but I’m not good as my practice shots. Now that I think about it, thinking about it a lot didn’t mean it all went well. I think too much thinking make me like this. I learn we don’t need to think a lots of think, just think what you are working on and just let it go. I’m sure that why I’m get nervous about and how to fix it! It’s great to learn about golf more and get inspired every time I read each article. Thank you for this wonderful article Coach!

  • Coach first line Concentrating harder does not equate to better results harde. and I know that No matter how much I focus, I can’t get better results. And now I realize that I have to do the swing I used to do.

  • Coach first line Concentrating harder does not equate to better results.and I know that No matter how much I focus, I can’t get better results. And now I realize that I have to do the swing I used to do.

  • This article made me recall back to all those rounds of golf that I went to and all those shots of hesitation I made on the golf course. I had many unwanted shots caused by thoughts behind the ball. After reading this article I realized that all those thoughts at our address position before hitting are useless and harmful to our game. I think this would be a problem for many golfers around the world, and I think this article contains very valuable and crucial pieces of information for golfers. Also, I was so inspired by the countdown routine at our address position. This routine will help all the shots at the course, from tee shots to trouble shots, become much easier. This won’t let us hesitate and doubt our shots because we won’t have the time for it. I can’t wait to try the routine at my next round of golf! Thanks coach!

  • Before I read this, when I hit my tee shot, I fell into a hazard or fell to the ground even if I hit it out of fear and scary. Now that I read this article, I realized that there is nothing to fear. If you take a long time on the tee shot, you will think differently and you will not hit it well, but if you count for just 5 seconds and hit the shot, Boom! This article has been very helpful for my mind control.

  • if I hit it out of fear and scary. Now that I read this article, I realized that there is nothing to fear. If you take a long time on the tee shot, you will think differently and you will not hit it well, but if you count for just 5 seconds and hit the shot, Boom! This article has been very helpful for my mind control.

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