The Golf Performance Center Ridgefield, CT

Closed Skill vs Open Skill, why is
it harder?

Closed skill you say, what is closed skill?  It is an activity that requires you to start from a standstill or initiate the action cognitively, you have time to think about it, perhaps creating unwanted emotions about what “might” happen.  Golf is a good example of a closed skill, putting or hitting off a tee is a typical environment in which research shows as the most difficult.  You may see this show up also on the basketball court on the free throw line.  Have you heard of the “yips”?  Open skill is mostly reactionary sports, like hitting baseball, skating on ice in hockey, most aspects of basketball or situations where the flow of the game can cause unpredictability.  

Due to the environment of golf, it lends itself to the utmost vulnerability of emotions based on the time it takes to make one shot to the next shot.  If the pace of the game was less predictable you may find that your scores would go down.  That’s right, this is how much our operating system gets in the way of performance!  Because we can think and create emotional connectivity to activities we can sabotage or help ourselves tremendously.  If you want better performances, learn techniques on breathing, emotional control and self-talk.  Seriously, would you berate a friend who just hit a ball out of bounds? NO, you would feel bad and say, don’t worry about it, you can still make a bogey or something that make him or her and you feel better about the situation.  Instead, you tell yourself how bad you are with a few expletives!    

So, how can you get past the emotions?  Have a growth mindset going into a practice or round of golf.  What are you doing?  You want to improve, the only way to improve is to do the hard work of accepting that you will not hit every shot perfectly.  There is a good likelihood you may not hit many shots well if you’re working to improve, it should not be easy working on your game.  I believe this is where a lot of people get it wrong, you think it should not come with some mental pain (hopefully no physical pain). You “gotta love it!”, all of it, the good and the bad stuff! Once you have practiced your closed skills of hitting the golf ball or putting, it is now time to put them into play. Playing is where it can get tougher and it should get tougher, rare will you hit the same shot, if ever!  Perhaps only from the tee box when the ball is on a tee, even then the holes are shaped differently, and your emotions attached are most related to past experiences versus this is a new adventure, you just need to let it go and let it flow!  Accept the challenge of your shot one at a time and before you know it, you are completing your round and wanting for more.  Even though it is the practice of closed skills, keep an open mind, enjoy the process and you will find it more enjoyable and in time, you will be playing the game more like it is an open skill game, in flow!

Enjoy Your Journey!