To Perceive or Misperceive!
Many instructors will state that speed-control, or the lack of it, is the common fault of most players. Speed control can be minimally or largely affected by your perception. You may need to alter your perception for better speed control to reduce or eliminate your three-putts. Are you among the majority who misperceive distances? If so, you may want to change how you look at things.
In this and future blogs, we'll take a look at several keys to mastering speed control. For those of you who have Blast Motion, we'll discuss the four key elements of the "app" that can enhance your speed-control skill.
When it comes to the brain’s chief information-gatherer, the eyes, there are tests to help you discover and overcome maladies that affect your performance, maybe none more common than three-putting a green, time and time again.
Sports vision optometrists' performance testing has shown that one common area of perception, that of the estimation of the distance to the target, is too often misperceived as shorter than the actual distance. In some cases, the perceptual evaluation is off by as much as 25-to-30 percent. This translates to a 50-foot putt leaving the golfer with a second putt that could be 15 feet from the cup.
There are several tests that you can perform by yourself, right in your home, that can help you determine if your errors are at least partly due to a faulty visual perception system as well as what to do to remedy these problems.
Testing Your Perception
A significant reason that most of your putts and even pitches and chips come up short of your intended mark is from the eyes and brain misperceiving the true distance to the target. Take the following tests and see how your perception measures up.
Find a target in front of you, preferably on the floor or ground, as it replicates the look to a cup. Ideally, the target should be approximately 30-to-40 feet away. You may need to look out a window for this distance if you are at home.
Take a last look at the position of the target before closing your eyes. Now you have to visualize the target’s location, just like on the putting green, except your eyes are open and using “spatial localization” to assess the target’s point in space.
Now, with your eyes closed, stretch out your arms and point to the visualized target with your two index fingers touching, forming a triangle with your arms. Now open one eye, preferably your dominant eye, and check where your fingers are pointing.
(By the way, this test is depicted in the video on my home page.)
If you are accurate and pointing right at the target, you are one of the few who are accurate localizers. Still, if you are accurate, you should be able to repeat this test with the same results. If you aren’t good with speed control, you have other issues than your perception.
If your fingers were pointing below the target, that tends to show your perception of the target is short of its actual location. This is, by far, the majority of the golfers and non-golfers we have tested.
If you are also right or left of the target, you also have directional issues of aiming. If you are above the target, you tend to perceive the target as farther than it actually is.
Still another test is to toss a quarter to a spot on the floor, five or so feet away. Again, it is good to have another person pick up the coins so you can do the test two or three times. If your results are inconsistent, with a long and a short, it can indicate your lack of skill in combining the eyes with the hand (eye-hand coordination) or you have a difficult time with consistent perceptual evaluation.
One of the best tests, used by eye doctors, in sports testing away from their offices, is called the Brock String Test (shown above). Using a string or small diameter rope and approximately 15-20 feet in length, tie one end to a chair or table leg. Hold the other end against the tip of your nose. You should see two strings, one from your left and one from your right eye (representing your “visual axis”).
If you do not readily see two strings, pluck the string to get it in motion. This may “jump-start” the eye that may be temporarily suppressing the other string. This shows you may be relying more on one eye for distance than you would have thought and this can greatly compromise your distance judgment. If so, schedule a trip to your eye doctor to do more significant binocular performance tests and some exercises to overcome this problem.you do not readily see two strings, pluck the string to get it in motion. This may “jump-start” the eye that may be temporarily suppressing the other string. If so, you may be relying more on one eye for distance than you would have thought and this can greatly compromise your distance judgment. If that's the case, you should contact your eye doctor to do more significant binocular performance tests and some exercises to overcome this problem.
Ideally, the strings should come together at the far end of the strings. If they do, then you either have good perception, or you perceive targets farther in space than they actually are. Players with a farther- than-actual perception often hit their putts or chips beyond the cup, often well beyond the cup, due mainly to their faulty perception!
If the strings do not come together to form a “V” at the far point of the string, and they cross well short of the end, so they form more of a “Y” or an “X”, then you have a tendency to leave your putts and even your chips short of the intended target because of your perception.
The ideal test is the string test, as the next recommendations can be readily appreciated as to their value in altering your perception.
A Plan for Success