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RayK

Mental Change

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In another thread Scott A. described how dog owners on Cesar Millan's show duplicate his actions, see immediate results and make the quick mental change. I have seen something similar happen with my own clients (and people in general), but what I have also found is that unless the change and the value attempting to be had or retained is made profound then that person usually reverts back to their old behavior within 3-6 months. It is because of this reverting problem, that I constantly strive to get my clients to remind themselves what values they are striving for. I have found that if a person loses their focus on their values then they can quickly revert from that positive mental change back to the way they were. In my business I applaud the person that has made the quick mental change and made it to 3 months. But it is the long-term mental change that is needed to achieve 6 months, 9 months and life time changes and when I see that that the person really deserves applause.

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Ray, you like golf, right? There's an interesting interview of Hank Haney in the latest Golf Digest. In his opinion, a key to teaching the best golfers is getting them to think that a new swing thought is their own - vs. coming from Hank. He mentioned a similar statement made by Butch Harmon regarding teaching Phil Mickleson.

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Ray, you like golf, right? There's an interesting interview of Hank Haney in the latest Golf Digest. In his opinion, a key to teaching the best golfers is getting them to think that a new swing thought is their own - vs. coming from Hank. He mentioned a similar statement made by Butch Harmon regarding teaching Phil Mickleson.

Abaco, I read the article and actually think I could enjoy meeting Hank Haney. But I disagree with him about letting his students think they have come up with the idea. One of those is that if those type of thoughts go on for long, the person will start wondering why they need the coach and just let them go. I am not against a person gaining a set of principles from their coach and then learning how to implement those priniciples and moving on. In my business I have found that as soon as a person forgets what value they are trading for, then they either stop obtaining their values or quit.

On a slightly different subject, I am left in a quandary why a professional golfer that has hit thousands and thousands of balls over their lifetime needs someone else to tell them what they are doing wrong. What was learned from all the years that Tiger Woods was hitting balls from 2 until her turned pro? I do not think Tiger Woods nor most professional golfers need a full-time coach as they, as professionals, should already have an immense amount of knowledge and skill.

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In another thread Scott A. described how dog owners on Cesar Millan's show duplicate his actions, see immediate results and make the quick mental change. I have seen something similar happen with my own clients (and people in general), but what I have also found is that unless the change and the value attempting to be had or retained is made profound then that person usually reverts back to their old behavior within 3-6 months. It is because of this reverting problem, that I constantly strive to get my clients to remind themselves what values they are striving for. I have found that if a person loses their focus on their values then they can quickly revert from that positive mental change back to the way they were. In my business I applaud the person that has made the quick mental change and made it to 3 months. But it is the long-term mental change that is needed to achieve 6 months, 9 months and life time changes and when I see that that the person really deserves applause.

That is is an interesting observation that I've often made about myself. I've often wondered why. Why doesn't the "desired" behavior become automatized to a certain extent, no matter how much effort is exerted? Why does it seem like the "undesired" habit becomes a fall back position unless constant mental focus is maintained?

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On a slightly different subject, I am left in a quandary why a professional golfer that has hit thousands and thousands of balls over their lifetime needs someone else to tell them what they are doing wrong. What was learned from all the years that Tiger Woods was hitting balls from 2 until her turned pro? I do not think Tiger Woods nor most professional golfers need a full-time coach as they, as professionals, should already have an immense amount of knowledge and skill.

I think it's because on such a high level of skill, a very small change has a significant effect on the results. And without being able to visually observe oneself, very small changes can become ingrained, unnoticed until it's too late to affect change. Just look at baseball hitters. The greatest hitters go into prolonged slumps. They only have a fraction of a second to swing and hit the ball. Any tiny change in their timing or body movement will have a significant affect on the results. An outside observant eye can notice things that the body cannot detect.

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In another thread Scott A. described how dog owners on Cesar Millan's show duplicate his actions, see immediate results and make the quick mental change. I have seen something similar happen with my own clients (and people in general), but what I have also found is that unless the change and the value attempting to be had or retained is made profound then that person usually reverts back to their old behavior within 3-6 months. It is because of this reverting problem, that I constantly strive to get my clients to remind themselves what values they are striving for. I have found that if a person loses their focus on their values then they can quickly revert from that positive mental change back to the way they were. In my business I applaud the person that has made the quick mental change and made it to 3 months. But it is the long-term mental change that is needed to achieve 6 months, 9 months and life time changes and when I see that that the person really deserves applause.

That is is an interesting observation that I've often made about myself. I've often wondered why. Why doesn't the "desired" behavior become automatized to a certain extent, no matter how much effort is exerted? Why does it seem like the "undesired" habit becomes a fall back position unless constant mental focus is maintained?

One thing I have my clients do is to constantly set new goals or values to achieve. I find that if they achieve a goal/value and do not replace it with another one then they almost always revert back to their old behavior. In other words there is no time (at least that I have noticed) where the desired behavior becomes automatized. It requires conscious thought to get up and walk away from the table, or drink enough water or even to remind oneself to eat every 3-5 hours and to know what goal/value one is obtaining by doing so. It is easy to glide, it is much harder (and more rewarding) to climb.

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On a slightly different subject, I am left in a quandary why a professional golfer that has hit thousands and thousands of balls over their lifetime needs someone else to tell them what they are doing wrong. What was learned from all the years that Tiger Woods was hitting balls from 2 until her turned pro? I do not think Tiger Woods nor most professional golfers need a full-time coach as they, as professionals, should already have an immense amount of knowledge and skill.

I think it's because on such a high level of skill, a very small change has a significant effect on the results. And without being able to visually observe oneself, very small changes can become ingrained, unnoticed until it's too late to affect change. Just look at baseball hitters. The greatest hitters go into prolonged slumps. They only have a fraction of a second to swing and hit the ball. Any tiny change in their timing or body movement will have a significant affect on the results. An outside observant eye can notice things that the body cannot detect.

I agree that their level of skill is very high and that slight modifications can cause problems. But I also think that someone can film themselves and see the problems and then consciously attempt to change them. Plus with film one can slow down the action so as to see the problem needing correction. I sometimes think (and I am just speculating here) that a lot of today's professional atheletes like it when people do something similar to what Hank Haney stated, let them think they are right or the one that thought of the idea. I think it gives them a boost to their psuedo-self-esteem.

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In another thread Scott A. described how dog owners on Cesar Millan's show duplicate his actions, see immediate results and make the quick mental change. I have seen something similar happen with my own clients (and people in general), but what I have also found is that unless the change and the value attempting to be had or retained is made profound then that person usually reverts back to their old behavior within 3-6 months. It is because of this reverting problem, that I constantly strive to get my clients to remind themselves what values they are striving for. I have found that if a person loses their focus on their values then they can quickly revert from that positive mental change back to the way they were. In my business I applaud the person that has made the quick mental change and made it to 3 months. But it is the long-term mental change that is needed to achieve 6 months, 9 months and life time changes and when I see that that the person really deserves applause.

I agree, Ray. Most truly great or important values take a long time to achieve. So many things can come up to thwart the long-term achievement, or sustenance, of those values.

Among the things that pop up are shifts on one's value-hierarchy and automatized personality patterns that likely began early in life. People's values at age 20 are different than age 10, at age 40 vs. 20, and so on. Value hierachies can shift over the course of a year, or even a few months. Automatized thoughts, emotions, and actions are deeply ingrained in a person's psyche. It is the familiar and stable, even if it isn't always healthy.

Helping a person to maintain focus on larger values over time is much harder. And if they can do it, they definitely deserve applause, as does the person who helps them.

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That is is an interesting observation that I've often made about myself. I've often wondered why. Why doesn't the "desired" behavior become automatized to a certain extent, no matter how much effort is exerted? Why does it seem like the "undesired" habit becomes a fall back position unless constant mental focus is maintained?

One Behaviorist principle I'm inclined to agree with is that one can never really "unlearn" something. One might forget it or put it aside, but that suggests that it wasn't that important to begin with or loses all value over time. However, to the extent that something is truly learned and accepted as an option (it is regularly manifest in one's actions), then one can seek only to replace it with something different and, hopefully, better.

Yet, replacement is not elimination. Automatized thoughts are very difficult to overcome, as are the related emotional response(s) and actions. Anything that at one time was a pattern is, to some extent, ingrained in one's psyche. One might even reasonably argue that it has become ingrained, to an extent, in one's neurochemistry. (Note that I am not saying that one's neurochemistry was "pre-wired" resulting in the pattern; it's almost completely the opposite.) In any event, it is fairly "easy" to fall back into a pattern. "Just like riding a bike."

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I think it's because on such a high level of skill, a very small change has a significant effect on the results. And without being able to visually observe oneself, very small changes can become ingrained, unnoticed until it's too late to affect change. Just look at baseball hitters. The greatest hitters go into prolonged slumps. They only have a fraction of a second to swing and hit the ball. Any tiny change in their timing or body movement will have a significant affect on the results. An outside observant eye can notice things that the body cannot detect.

I agree that their level of skill is very high and that slight modifications can cause problems. But I also think that someone can film themselves and see the problems and then consciously attempt to change them. Plus with film one can slow down the action so as to see the problem needing correction. I sometimes think (and I am just speculating here) that a lot of today's professional athletes like it when people do something similar to what Hank Haney stated, let them think they are right or the one that thought of the idea. I think it gives them a boost to their psuedo-self-esteem.

To my knowledge, every sport has coaches. In addition to head coaches, there are also position coaches, who have expertise in a particular set of skills. Most professional athletes are constantly trying to improve their performance, and they have a lot of motivation to do so (personal, financial, etc.). Perhaps watching film would show them some things, but the guidance of expertise can help focus their attention and point out things the person might not see on his own. In other words, players are typically learning what to do, whereas coaches know what to do.

Additionally, the motivation that a coach either brings or bolsters cannot be underestimated. To use a couple examples relevant to you, why do you need to teach and inspire your clients? Why not just show them exercise videos? Why do soldiers need drill sergeants? Granted, you are talking about professional athletes and not clients or soldiers. But why should it be any different for a professional? It's typically the true professionals, in any endeavor, who do the most work and seek additional help when necessary.

A professional's "tools" are invaluable to him, and I see use of coaches and film as very understandable and valuable tools for athletes, including golfers.

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That is is an interesting observation that I've often made about myself. I've often wondered why. Why doesn't the "desired" behavior become automatized to a certain extent, no matter how much effort is exerted? Why does it seem like the "undesired" habit becomes a fall back position unless constant mental focus is maintained?

One Behaviorist principle I'm inclined to agree with is that one can never really "unlearn" something. One might forget it or put it aside, but that suggests that it wasn't that important to begin with or loses all value over time. However, to the extent that something is truly learned and accepted as an option (it is regularly manifest in one's actions), then one can seek only to replace it with something different and, hopefully, better.

Yet, replacement is not elimination. Automatized thoughts are very difficult to overcome, as are the related emotional response(s) and actions. Anything that at one time was a pattern is, to some extent, ingrained in one's psyche. One might even reasonably argue that it has become ingrained, to an extent, in one's neurochemistry. (Note that I am not saying that one's neurochemistry was "pre-wired" resulting in the pattern; it's almost completely the opposite.) In any event, it is fairly "easy" to fall back into a pattern. "Just like riding a bike."

I'd like you to expand, if you can, on this point. It is like the statement, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty". Once an undesired behavior is "integrated" either psychologically or physiologically, it becomes very difficult to integrate new values without constant conscious effort. To give two examples. Eating too many cookies is a bad habit of mine. I can eat an entire box of Oreos without hardly any thought. I typically don't buy them so I can avoid them. I've gone without them for months but when they're in front of me (when I visit someone's house), I can eat an entire box without even realizing it. Yet I never get a desire to eat a whole bag of carrots or a half dozen apples even though they're in front of me all the time. Why is that?

As a second example, I have struggled to integrate many epistemological principles into my thinking over the many years of studying Objectivism. Overall, I've been pretty successful, changing my psycho-epistemology to a large extent. Yet, in some areas of thought, I have found that I can fall back into my old ways of thinking if I don't maintain conscious focus to apply my new ways of thinking in all areas of my life. It is as if the old ways are "ingrained" in me, as you say. It's like, what is learned first as a child, for good or bad, becomes one's second nature, part of oneself. Why is that?

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In another thread Scott A. described how dog owners on Cesar Millan's show duplicate his actions, see immediate results and make the quick mental change. I have seen something similar happen with my own clients (and people in general), but what I have also found is that unless the change and the value attempting to be had or retained is made profound then that person usually reverts back to their old behavior within 3-6 months. It is because of this reverting problem, that I constantly strive to get my clients to remind themselves what values they are striving for. I have found that if a person loses their focus on their values then they can quickly revert from that positive mental change back to the way they were. In my business I applaud the person that has made the quick mental change and made it to 3 months. But it is the long-term mental change that is needed to achieve 6 months, 9 months and life time changes and when I see that that the person really deserves applause.

That is is an interesting observation that I've often made about myself. I've often wondered why. Why doesn't the "desired" behavior become automatized to a certain extent, no matter how much effort is exerted? Why does it seem like the "undesired" habit becomes a fall back position unless constant mental focus is maintained?

One thing I have my clients do is to constantly set new goals or values to achieve. I find that if they achieve a goal/value and do not replace it with another one then they almost always revert back to their old behavior. In other words there is no time (at least that I have noticed) where the desired behavior becomes automatized. It requires conscious thought to get up and walk away from the table, or drink enough water or even to remind oneself to eat every 3-5 hours and to know what goal/value one is obtaining by doing so. It is easy to glide, it is much harder (and more rewarding) to climb.

But why? Why does the old learned value become the "behavior of choice" (so to speak) rather than the newly learned value? What about "bad" habits allows them to become automatized whereas "good" habits require so much effort? If one has chosen a goal for its effect, why does one need to choose another goal? Why can't this goal be the "fall back position"? Why does one revert back to the bad behavior before this goal was achieved?

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For example. Person A has been lazy most of his life. He takes up bike riding and rides 5 miles a day. But this change requires thought, planning, and effort to implement. If he relaxes his focus, he'll go back to being lazy. But supposes he becomes proficient at doing this. And then he decides he want to increase to 10 miles a day. Again, this requires more thought, planning and effort. But suppose he gets lax. Why does his pattern of behavior fall back to being lazy and not doing anything rather than just falling back to riding 5 miles a day?

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On a slightly different subject, I am left in a quandary why a professional golfer that has hit thousands and thousands of balls over their lifetime needs someone else to tell them what they are doing wrong. What was learned from all the years that Tiger Woods was hitting balls from 2 until her turned pro? I do not think Tiger Woods nor most professional golfers need a full-time coach as they, as professionals, should already have an immense amount of knowledge and skill.

I think it's because on such a high level of skill, a very small change has a significant effect on the results. And without being able to visually observe oneself, very small changes can become ingrained, unnoticed until it's too late to affect change. Just look at baseball hitters. The greatest hitters go into prolonged slumps. They only have a fraction of a second to swing and hit the ball. Any tiny change in their timing or body movement will have a significant affect on the results. An outside observant eye can notice things that the body cannot detect.

I agree that their level of skill is very high and that slight modifications can cause problems. But I also think that someone can film themselves and see the problems and then consciously attempt to change them. Plus with film one can slow down the action so as to see the problem needing correction. I sometimes think (and I am just speculating here) that a lot of today's professional atheletes like it when people do something similar to what Hank Haney stated, let them think they are right or the one that thought of the idea. I think it gives them a boost to their psuedo-self-esteem.

Film is good for observing past action and making general modifications. Coaching can observe "real time" and make changes specific to the event. For example, in baseball, I've observed catchers motion to the pitchers to make sure they follow through on their pitches and not just throw or aim the ball, or they're releasing the ball to soon. This is immediate correction of observed behavior. Watching a film can tell a batter not to drop his shoulder but a coach can tell a batter immediately after or during an at-bat that he's dropping his shoulder when the pitcher throws a curve ball while he's not doing it for fast balls.

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Why does his pattern of behavior fall back to being lazy and not doing anything rather than just falling back to riding 5 miles a day?

There's a time factor. He might have been lazy for 15 years and exercising for 15 weeks.

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Why does his pattern of behavior fall back to being lazy and not doing anything rather than just falling back to riding 5 miles a day?

There's a time factor. He might have been lazy for 15 years and exercising for 15 weeks.

Of course. Causality is in play here. But time doesn't explain the reason why this occurs. There seems to be physiological factors as well as psychological ones.

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Scott and Paul, I do not think that coaches are a bad thing and I do think they serve a purpose in the professional athelete's strive for excellence. What I am attempting to state is that I think they are misused or overused in today's sport fields and they also seem to get to much of the blame. Ben Hogan, one of the greatest golfers of his time, created a set of five lessons/fundamentals that he taught to people and wrote a book about (during the 50s) that with consistent practice allowed the person that applied them to enhance their golf game by a considerable amount. One of the things that Ben Hogan stresses and that I agree with is that the practice swing should be consistently the same so that the specific adaptations that are being sought come about in the mind. Now, back then Ben Hogan did not have the neurological research to back his claim, but the evidence over the last 50+ years demonstrates what he, and others, mentioned is correct.

Many people on this forum have heard of the concept neural plasticity which allows a person to basically change their minds shape and neural connections with thoughts and actions that move them either away from or toward certain thoughts and actions. What, it seems, most people do not know or have forgotten is that brains are shaped and maintained by an endless battle for survival and connective power of the neurons. In other words, the neurons that get the most actions or thoughts grow the stonger synapses and form stronger connections as it is likely that the person will duplicate that behavior. This is why I tell people to not waste their time doing activities that do not directly deal with their sport. In other words do not run up and down stairs to become good at sprinting. I instead tell them to lift weights so that they can generate more strength and more force and then practice sprinting. As humans we are born with more neurons than we will ever need and there is a weeding off of those that do not gather the synaptic connections that I mentioned earlier. But there is a neural plasticity to the brain that allows us to change what actions we want to become more profound which is known as "reentrant signaling" that allows us to redirect and strenghten new neural, synaptic connections. To do this, one has to be constantly aware of their choices/thoughts and actions so that they can allow for the new behavior to win out over the bad, whether it is a proper swing or proper eating habits or anything for that matter.

So, to answer Paul's questions. The reason the old behavior keeps coming back is because you have given that behavior a lifetime (or at least a much longer time) to generate strong neural, synatic connections which becomes very difficult for new connections/behavior to overcome. But, thanks to neural plasticity in the brain, a person always has the opportunity to change, redirect or create a "reentrant signaling" which means the brain can redirect or create new neural synaptic connections. Studies done on elderly people show that there is no age in which this cannot be done.

For those that want more information on this subject I refer them to the work of a Dr. Gerald Edelman, Dr. Jane Holmes Bernstein and some of the writings by Dr. Jane Healy.

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One more point about coaches which is relevant to what I mentioned earlier/above. The coach should be teaching fundamentals so that the person can practice duplicatable actions and results. If all that is ever taught is a "new secret" or "don't dip your shoulder" then the person getting the coaching will never change their overall fundamentals and hence why they keep reverting back to their old ways.

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One more point about coaches which is relevant to what I mentioned earlier/above. The coach should be teaching fundamentals so that the person can practice duplicatable actions and results. If all that is ever taught is a "new secret" or "don't dip your shoulder" then the person getting the coaching will never change their overall fundamentals and hence why they keep reverting back to their old ways.

I never implied, of course, that coaches make great players. It is the players who spend hours a day practicing and certainly must learn on their own how to do the sport. But great golfers still talk things through with their caddies before a stroke, still practice with coaches observing them, at least part of the time. Almost anyone can learn fundamentals, but great players go way beyond fundamentals to a level that exceeds just trying to be good at some sport. It may not be a matter of a "new secret". A player may require 5 factors fall in place to improve a certain element of his play, but he can't get to four of them until he improves on one. If a coach can help in that one aspect of his game, it certainly is something that should be available to the player.

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One more point about coaches which is relevant to what I mentioned earlier/above. The coach should be teaching fundamentals so that the person can practice duplicatable actions and results. If all that is ever taught is a "new secret" or "don't dip your shoulder" then the person getting the coaching will never change their overall fundamentals and hence why they keep reverting back to their old ways.

I never implied, of course, that coaches make great players. It is the players who spend hours a day practicing and certainly must learn on their own how to do the sport. But great golfers still talk things through with their caddies before a stroke, still practice with coaches observing them, at least part of the time. Almost anyone can learn fundamentals, but great players go way beyond fundamentals to a level that exceeds just trying to be good at some sport. It may not be a matter of a "new secret". A player may require 5 factors fall in place to improve a certain element of his play, but he can't get to four of them until he improves on one. If a coach can help in that one aspect of his game, it certainly is something that should be available to the player.

A coach is supposed to be an instructor/teacher. As a teacher the coach must start from the basics and work toward more difficult aspects of the subject they are teaching. If the student does not understand or accept the teacher's fundamentals then very little or nothing at all will integrate. This could be part of the reason why we see people such as Tiger Woods constantly keep duplicating mistakes year after year after year and in some aspects of his game he has even gotten worse. Just like a philosophy, one cannot just pick and choose a hodge-podge of different aspects of differeing systems and try and integrate them as it cannot be done.

I would also offer that even with all the so called great coaching that atheletes have available along with all the great technology of today and still they are not immensely better. Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Larry Bird, "Magic" Johnson" and many others atheletes of yesterday did not have nearly the amount of coaching as the atheletes of today and still no immensely greater returns on all the coaching and technological efforts.

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I would also offer that even with all the so called great coaching that atheletes have available along with all the great technology of today and still they are not immensely better. Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Larry Bird, "Magic" Johnson" and many others atheletes of yesterday did not have nearly the amount of coaching as the atheletes of today and still no immensely greater returns on all the coaching and technological efforts.

Perhaps technology is not that relevant. From what I read here, it appears that introspection is the most important factor.

Hogan's golf swing

Ben Hogan is widely acknowledged to have been the greatest ball striker ever to have played golf. Although he had a formidable record as a tournament winner, it is this aspect of Hogan which mostly underpins his modern reputation.

Hogan was known to practice more than any other golfer of his contemporaries and is said to have "invented practice". On this matter, Hogan himself said, "You hear stories about me beating my brains out practicing, but... I was enjoying myself. I couldn't wait to get up in the morning, so I could hit balls. When I'm hitting the ball where I want, hard and crisply, it's a joy that very few people experience."[3] He was also one of the first players to match particular clubs to yardages, or references points around the course such as bunkers or trees, in order to improve his distance control.

Hogan thought that an individual's golf swing was "in the dirt" and that mastering it required plenty of practice and repetition. He is also known to have spent years contemplating the golf swing, trying a range of theories and methods before arriving at the finished method which brought him his greatest period of success.

The young Hogan was badly afflicted by hooking the golf ball. Although slight of build at only 5'7" and 140 pounds (64 kg) - attributes that earned him the nickname "Bantam", which he thoroughly disliked - he was very long off the tee early in his career, and even competed in long drive contests.

It has been alleged that Hogan used a "strong" grip, with hands more the right of the club grip in tournament play prior to his accident in 1949, despite often practicing with a "weak" grip, with the back of the left wrist facing the target, and that this limited his success, or, at least, his reliability, up to that date (source: John Jacobs in his book 'Fifty Greatest Golf Lessons of the Century').

Jacobs alleges that Byron Nelson told him this information, and furthermore that Hogan developed and used the "strong" grip as a boy in order to be able to hit the ball as far as bigger, stronger contemporaries. This strong grip is what resulted in Hogan hitting the odd disastrous snap hook. Nelson and Hogan both grew up in Fort Worth, and they are known to have played against each other as teenagers.

Hogan's late swing produced the famed "Hogan Fade" ball flight, lower than usual for a great player and from left to right. This ball flight was the result of his using a "draw" type swing in conjunction with a "weak" grip, a combination which all but negated the chance of hitting a hook.

Hogan played and practiced golf with only bare-hands i.e. he played or practiced without wearing any gloves. Moe Norman also did the same, playing and practicing without wearing any golf gloves. Both these players are/were arguably the greatest ball strikers golf has ever known; even Tiger Woods quoted them as the only players ever to have "owned their swings", in that they had total control of it and, as a result, the ball's flight.[4]

Hogan's secret

Hogan is thought to have developed a "secret" which made his swing nearly automatic. There are many theories as to its exact nature. The earliest theory is that the "secret" was a special wrist movement known as "cupping under". This information was revealed in a 1955 Life magazine article. However, many believed Hogan did not reveal all that he knew at the time. It has since been alleged in Golf Digest magazine, and by Jody Vasquez in his book "Afternoons With Mr Hogan", that the second element of Hogan's "secret" was the way in which he used his right knee to initiate the swing and that this right knee movement was critical to the correct operation of the wrist.

Hogan revealed later in life that the "secret" involved cupping the left wrist at the top of the back swing and using a weaker left hand grip (thumb more on top of the grip as opposed to on the right side).

Hogan did this to prevent himself from ever hooking the ball off the tee. By positioning his hands in this manner, he ensured that the club face would be slightly open upon impact, creating a fade (left to right ball flight) as opposed to a draw or hook (right to left ball flight).

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I would also offer that even with all the so called great coaching that atheletes have available along with all the great technology of today and still they are not immensely better. Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Larry Bird, "Magic" Johnson" and many others atheletes of yesterday did not have nearly the amount of coaching as the atheletes of today and still no immensely greater returns on all the coaching and technological efforts.

Perhaps technology is not that relevant. From what I read here, it appears that introspection is the most important factor.

Hogan's golf swing

Ben Hogan is widely acknowledged to have been the greatest ball striker ever to have played golf. Although he had a formidable record as a tournament winner, it is this aspect of Hogan which mostly underpins his modern reputation.

Hogan was known to practice more than any other golfer of his contemporaries and is said to have "invented practice". On this matter, Hogan himself said, "You hear stories about me beating my brains out practicing, but... I was enjoying myself. I couldn't wait to get up in the morning, so I could hit balls. When I'm hitting the ball where I want, hard and crisply, it's a joy that very few people experience."[3] He was also one of the first players to match particular clubs to yardages, or references points around the course such as bunkers or trees, in order to improve his distance control.

Hogan thought that an individual's golf swing was "in the dirt" and that mastering it required plenty of practice and repetition. He is also known to have spent years contemplating the golf swing, trying a range of theories and methods before arriving at the finished method which brought him his greatest period of success.

The young Hogan was badly afflicted by hooking the golf ball. Although slight of build at only 5'7" and 140 pounds (64 kg) - attributes that earned him the nickname "Bantam", which he thoroughly disliked - he was very long off the tee early in his career, and even competed in long drive contests.

It has been alleged that Hogan used a "strong" grip, with hands more the right of the club grip in tournament play prior to his accident in 1949, despite often practicing with a "weak" grip, with the back of the left wrist facing the target, and that this limited his success, or, at least, his reliability, up to that date (source: John Jacobs in his book 'Fifty Greatest Golf Lessons of the Century').

Jacobs alleges that Byron Nelson told him this information, and furthermore that Hogan developed and used the "strong" grip as a boy in order to be able to hit the ball as far as bigger, stronger contemporaries. This strong grip is what resulted in Hogan hitting the odd disastrous snap hook. Nelson and Hogan both grew up in Fort Worth, and they are known to have played against each other as teenagers.

Hogan's late swing produced the famed "Hogan Fade" ball flight, lower than usual for a great player and from left to right. This ball flight was the result of his using a "draw" type swing in conjunction with a "weak" grip, a combination which all but negated the chance of hitting a hook.

Hogan played and practiced golf with only bare-hands i.e. he played or practiced without wearing any gloves. Moe Norman also did the same, playing and practicing without wearing any golf gloves. Both these players are/were arguably the greatest ball strikers golf has ever known; even Tiger Woods quoted them as the only players ever to have "owned their swings", in that they had total control of it and, as a result, the ball's flight.[4]

Hogan's secret

Hogan is thought to have developed a "secret" which made his swing nearly automatic. There are many theories as to its exact nature. The earliest theory is that the "secret" was a special wrist movement known as "cupping under". This information was revealed in a 1955 Life magazine article. However, many believed Hogan did not reveal all that he knew at the time. It has since been alleged in Golf Digest magazine, and by Jody Vasquez in his book "Afternoons With Mr Hogan", that the second element of Hogan's "secret" was the way in which he used his right knee to initiate the swing and that this right knee movement was critical to the correct operation of the wrist.

Hogan revealed later in life that the "secret" involved cupping the left wrist at the top of the back swing and using a weaker left hand grip (thumb more on top of the grip as opposed to on the right side).

Hogan did this to prevent himself from ever hooking the ball off the tee. By positioning his hands in this manner, he ensured that the club face would be slightly open upon impact, creating a fade (left to right ball flight) as opposed to a draw or hook (right to left ball flight).

This was fascinating to read, Paul. What strikes me is the tremendous focus his knowledge required, but also the fact that he loved it. Focus will take you a long way, but focus with passion takes you all the way.

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Yet, replacement is not elimination. Automatized thoughts are very difficult to overcome, as are the related emotional response(s) and actions. Anything that at one time was a pattern is, to some extent, ingrained in one's psyche. One might even reasonably argue that it has become ingrained, to an extent, in one's neurochemistry. (Note that I am not saying that one's neurochemistry was "pre-wired" resulting in the pattern; it's almost completely the opposite.) In any event, it is fairly "easy" to fall back into a pattern. "Just like riding a bike."

I'd like you to expand, if you can, on this point. It is like the statement, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty". Once an undesired behavior is "integrated" either psychologically or physiologically, it becomes very difficult to integrate new values without constant conscious effort.

Yes, the undesirable behavior can reasonably be considered a "psycho-physiological" pattern. I mean that it includes an integration of thought, emotion, and behavior. Although a thought is not reducible to a pattern of firing neurons, there is a correlate neuronal pattern to the thought. Emotions start out as physiological, pleasure-pain reactions that, in time, become integrated with concepts, principles, and value-judgments. Behavior is the physical actions one takes on the basis of thoughts and value-judgments. So, when you refer to "integration," you are right on. This is why it is difficult to integrate new patterns; they are competing with older, more well-established patterns.

To give two examples. Eating too many cookies is a bad habit of mine. I can eat an entire box of Oreos without hardly any thought. I typically don't buy them so I can avoid them. I've gone without them for months but when they're in front of me (when I visit someone's house), I can eat an entire box without even realizing it. Yet I never get a desire to eat a whole bag of carrots or a half dozen apples even though they're in front of me all the time. Why is that?

I don't mean to joke when I say Oreos taste better(!).

It's like, what is learned first as a child, for good or bad, becomes one's second nature, part of oneself. Why is that?

Because many aspects of the self do develop at a young age. The Psychoanalysts were correct to look at things that happen early in one's life as a basis for adult personality. That doesn't make all their theories correct, but evidence from multiple disciplines, including neuroscience, supports the importance of early experiences in multiple aspects of life.

The good news, though, is that one's core self is his volitional consciousness and capacity for independent judgment. Even most negative early experiences can be overcome.

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Scott and Paul, I do not think that coaches are a bad thing and I do think they serve a purpose in the professional athelete's strive for excellence. What I am attempting to state is that I think they are misused or overused in today's sport fields and they also seem to get to much of the blame.

You could be right, Ray. I really don't know. Among those who do, I would guess you are right that some percent do it because of pseudo self-esteem. But I would also speculate that's the minority. Professional golfers have some real motivation to perform well, and so I tend to think they are earnest in wanting to get better.

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