By Neville Walker
A Putting Cross-Over occurs when you move from thinking about a putt to when you putt without thought. The separation highlights that you can think, and you can putt, but you can’t think and putt. Thoughts about stroke mechanics during the stroke generally result in a poor effort.
You know, in fact everyone who plays golf knows, that you must play in the present. This has been theme tune of golf instructors and sports psychologists worldwide. This means that you can’t entertain thoughts of the past or thoughts about the future when you putt. You must stay in the moment – preferably without any thoughts that relate to what you are trying to do.
As explained by Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott in their book Every Shot must have a Purpose you have a ‘Think Box’ on one side of the divide, and a ‘Play Box’ on the other side.
In the ‘Think Box’ you do all your analysis about the break, the speed you need, and anything thing else that could be broadly grouped under swing thoughts.
When you cross the imaginary divide into the ‘Play Box’, you are done thinking and are only concerned with your target, not how you are going to hit it. This is left to your subconscious to work out by drawing on the habits you have previously created.
Keeping your mind blank so your conscious mind doesn’t sabotage what you are trying to achieve is never easy. Mankind it seems is born to think. The vital skill you must learn if you want to putter better is how to get out of your own way mentally. The answer appears to be some form of distraction. Giving your brain something to work with that has nothing to do with the putt you are attempting.
The suggestion is that once you are in the ‘Play Box’ you should recite a short random sentence, count numbers, or even sing. Anything that is not action related or that has any bearing on your putt. However, this vital skill has one short-coming.
It will effectively block unhelpful thoughts, and allow your dominant habits to come to the fore, but it doesn’t improve your ability. For example, if you have difficulty making solid contact with the ball, reciting, counting or singing won’t correct this lack of skill.
In the Putting Cross-Over when you move out of the Think Box and into the Play Box, you take with you your skill levels that are reflected in your learned habits. New habits that represent better skill levels can only be achieved through purposeful practice off the course.
The vital skill of using ‘Clear Keys’ described by Carey Mumford allows you to play your natural game, no more, no less. It delivers the habits you have developed whether they be good or bad.
In summary, the Putting Cross-Over accompanied by ‘Clear Keys’ only removes the opportunity for analytical or destructive thoughts to interfere with your putting stroke. You build your putting skills with practice – you play on automatic free from left-brain interference by giving up active control of your putting stroke.
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