I actually received a copy of the book today having ordered it last night…I jumped straight to the readiness potential chapter; these are the notes I made in an hour’s reading;

Scientists Kornhuber and Deecke demonstrated that analysis of the brain showed a shift in electrical potential which shows that an action is being prepared. This ‘readiness potential’ is logical, after all the brain has to prepare an action by calculating how it is performed. The only strange thing is the timing.

On average it was nearly a second prior to the action, that is a long time. The brains were getting ready for the action long before the decision to act had been made!

Therefore, when exactly do we consciously decide to initiate the act? After all, this huge one second delay is not apparent in our everyday life. We know that its a split second, like 0.1 of a second, not one whole second between deciding and acting, so why does the readiness potential appear so long before any conscious decision? Does this mean that I have no free will? Someone else calls the shots in my brain?

A more thorough experiment revealed that 0.35 seconds passes between brain start up ( readiness potential) and the conscious decision to act and that nearly a full second, 0.55 of a second, passes between readiness potential and action.

So to get back to Steb’s golf, any attempt at a golf swing is preordained a whole second before it happened. There was no glitch in Steb’s ability to make a golf swing, after all his practice swing is perfect, there is however a prewired instruction to hit the ball which renders him helpless to any conscious manipulation of the club as the truncated action that really happens instead has already been pre ordered more than half a second before he decided to hit the ball.

Steb’s real golf swing therefore begins unconsciously, a half a second before he even started his swing, the problem does not lie with the glitchy uncompleted backswing, it lies with the decision made by his brain about what action it has decided to perform.

Steb’s consciousness dupes him as it dupes us. It is a tin god that just pretends to be in charge but actually lags way behind the real moment when decisions are made. So no amount of exhortation, talking to yourself, conscious trying or any of that stuff is going to change the way you play golf…

If your brain is embarrassed or unconfident about the way you play, it will interrupt the act….so the lurch is really a deep seated fear of looking stupid like stage fright. Remember Woody Allen’s character in the film Play it again Sam displaying inappropriate interruptions when trying to chat up women?

OK, I want to just include a disclaimer that I have literally only spent an hour reading so far but thats the gist of what I have understood so far.

From the very limited reading I have done thus far, I think that the solution may be to realise that the brain will short-circuit any action it does not like or it thinks may be embarassing. Instead it may be more advisable to just let the brain take charge and produce the strike it prefers since it will decide what it wants to do anyway! Obviously the more you become competent at drills the more likely the brain is to elect and trust to utilise these actions during the real swing.

As I read more of the book, I will post any more insights as I discover them, if people are interested.

Well there you go! I appreciate that immensely aiguille and looking forward to my copy arriving. (One correction though, my practice swing isn’t perfect by any means, I just like what I see! :smiley: )

BP described it as a form of yips. I find with my putting that it cycles in quality. Sinusoidal I bet! When on the downward trend, often the yips do set it. I totally believe this is due to fear of publicly missing a 1 footer rather than any small-muscle/large-muscle flawed putting technique. I have 6-putted from 20 feet yet had 24 putts last round I played. Extremes. It will happen for weeks until I just don’t care anymore when it comes good again. However the difference with putting over the full swing is the putting woes never happen alone.

But just in the backyard, I have no reason to be embarrassed. When my ball-striking is hot out on the course, I’m sure the dog’s dinner backswing still is occurring. I still feel it’s more to do with the body somehow prepares for the forces of impact, possibly something I’ve picked up from a life of martial arts. Maybe the body subconsciously likes to put itself in a position it believes has the best chance of powering that ball away? Maybe the body is so smart that practice swings don’t give it confidence because impact isn’t involved. Like you say, I can believe the body only does what it’s seen power the ball away before. Subconscious confidence in other words.

Whatever it is, I’m beginning to realize there’s no frame of mind I can put myself in to stop it. It’ll take gradual change.

Thanks for posting.


Just had a phone call from BPGS…from Hawaii!

He basically agrees with you Steb. He thinks we need to persuade the subconscious mind to grant permission before it accepts to allow specific new learned actions. Sounds like it does a bloody good job if you ask me, like a kind of vetting process!

I actually found the excerpt of the book quite liberating…it made me relax safe in the knowledge that my brain was only going to do what it wanted anyway!

Maybe Steb, if you are going to read the book too, we can both critique it from our different perspectives, for the benefit (or derision) lol! of our fellow ABS students!

BPGS kindly said he would post on here but he also told me a few interesting snippets…for example apparently Tiger just thinks Target and trusts his subconscious self to play the shot! Would appreciate a few ABS students joining in with their own take on this quite controversial hypothesis.

I always thought about mental programming: This may be off topic slightly but I thought it interesting
It’s amazing how many times you play with amateurs and they stand over the ball and say. “OK, Don’t hit it in the water”
Where does the ball go?
In the water— Why?
I really think the brain doesn’t understand the word DON’T-- all it hears in this case is WATER
A much better reasoning would be- “OK, I see the water, I am going to hit a nice shot up the edge of that water and fade it back into the fairway”
That way- You have acknowledged the water is there. Told the brain the water is there. Designed a thought process about a beautiful little fade alongside the water. And mentioned the fairway all in one thought or sentence.
total different thought process and it will 90% of the time bring about a totally different result- even though WATER was mentioned in both instances

I think the amateur is more stressed out at looking good in front of the pro two! He just wants you to know he has good course management and has considered the water.

I had to shake my head last time I played with my father.

We’re playing a course new to him. He hooks one in the trees. I tell him there’s a dam front left of the green. He’s an extremely negative person. He bets me any money he’ll go in it.

But he hits a tree and it bounces across the fairway into more trees. I was surprised he didn’t go in the dam, but then I thought maybe next shot.

He shoots one low out, it’s heading towards the dam. He’s going to be one pissed-off man.

But it’s stops a few feet before the dam. I sigh.

He’s got a good chance to get up and down for bogey.

He chilli-dips it into the dam.

It reminded me of those Final Destination movies.


There is research that shows negative words such as “not” thrown in the middle of a sentence throw off our brains and make the sentence more difficult to understand. Also heard from scientist friend that the brain does not understand the word no. So like you said, Don’t hit it in the water becomes Hit it in the water. Even if it’s not true, postive thought will always have a leg up on negative. Flop

Two - it is a proven fact that the subconscious mind does not recognize negative words - “not, no, don’t” etc. So, you are absolutely correct - when you say to yourself "don’t hit it in the water, you cannot mentally picture a ball not going in the water. You can only picture going into the water. I teach that you should identify the trouble first, ie where do I not want the ball to go, at the very first stage of your routine. Identify and acknowledge the trouble. Then - find your Target and imagine your ball going there. Now you are 100% positive - what you intend to make happen. If you are still thinking about the trouble as you are about to start your swing or during the swing itself, there is a very good chance that you will hit it there.


Do you have any experience to relate that would support ‘the user illusion’ theory that its the subconscious that really calls the shots?

Another interesting observation made by BPGS was that the flinch during the golf swing is like a stutter/stammer.

Hey, then maybe Charles Barkley is a poster boy for the golf stutter since his stutter didn’t start until after he started playing in televised events. If you break down a stutter of any sort, it is a hesitation, and hesitations happen in general when we are unsure about how to proceed (consciously or subconsciously). Even vocal stuttering is based in some sort of social fear of failure or some lack of confidence. I used to have a golf stutter right at transition because I was afraid that I would screw it up and come over the top as a result. Consequently, the less time I took to setup over the ball, the less pronounced and less often my hesitation during transition would be.

Recently, my uncle asked me if I remebered working with him when he used to teach baseball swings using video back in the '80s. I had totally forgotten about it, at least consciously. He would find the swing flaw on video and have his students perform swings in slow motion but with full muscle tension (isometric tension) throughout the entire motion. He thought working the entire motion and not just the one area with the biggest flaw was important so that the student would not acquire any hitches or hesitations. He also believed the high muscle tension decreased the neuromuscular re-education time to groove a new swing or remove a swing flaw. The program was wildly popular due to the results everyone would achieve. Therefore, If I practice a swing in slow motion, I always make sure that I do it with full muscle tension and from setup to follow through. Yes, some things in the golf swing happen only dynamically so the slow motion swing can never cover every aspect or position but it can provide a way to build a foundation a little faster. You have to be careful and be sure you know exactly what you INTEND to do because it WILL get acquired if enough reps are performed in this manner. You still have to perform it in full speed, re-evaluate, and re-educate again if necessary. This process may assist one in becoming confident subconsciously with the action being performed but I am just hypothesizing.

Bagger - slow motion swinging in front of a mirror for real-time visual feedback is the heart of our golf swing training program. I adapted this idea for golf from the slow motion training I received as a young lad from my karate sensei. It has proven to work very well for over a thousand years in the Asian martial arts tradition and it works really well in golf. Many ballet and modern dance teachers also use slow mo training. I consider it kind of like grammar school level training for learning the basics of the golf swing - not that you don’t need Dynamic training as well. In our program, the ratio is about 75/25 slow mo to dynamic training (although a fair amount of even the dynamic training is done away from hitting a golf ball). For the advanced player, that ratio is more like 90 dynamic and only 10 slow mo or more often half-speed swinging, both with and without a golf ball.

We also use slow motion and half speed swinging with eyes closed to feel the body motion. And - you are spot on, dolng it with as much as possible of normal levels of muscle tension and activation is very effective.

OK…time for the second instalment.

One might object that it doesn’t take ½ a second to snatch your fingers away from a burning stove ….however, that is not a conscious process, its an unconscious reaction, you don’t think Ouch…that hurts then pull the finger away, we snatch our fingers away and then think Ouch. I think BPGS already explained this.

Our reaction time is much shorter than the time taken to initiate a conscious action ….is that why the hero always wins in the gunfight because he is reacting rather than acting?

The half second delay also relates to sensory perception just as it does with motor action….stimulating the skin leads to activity in the cortex, which afer half a second leads to consciousness but astonishingly, there is a backward referral of the subjective experience to the time the stimulus occurred……so to some extent, what we experienced is a lie, but there is a good point in this fraud.

Lets return to Libet’s experiment with the readiness potential, consciousness may occur after the brain has gone into action (0.35 second later) but it also occurs before the action is performed (0.2 second later) so can one’s consciousness stop an act before it is carried out?

Can it exert a veto? The answer is yes, and we see this in golf with Tiger stopping in mid swing!

So consciousness cannot initiate an action but it can decide that it should not be carried out.

So consciousness cannot initiate an action but it can decide that it should not be carried out. Consciousness is not a superior unit that directs its subordinates in the brain, rather consciousness picks and chooses from the many options the subconscious serves up.

A veto applied to something subconscious reflects that there are differences between what the consciousness and the subconscious would like.

There are no limits to what people pour into themselves by way of alcohol and other drugs to transcend these conscious vetoes.

People are happiest when they just act, when our consciousness does not exert a veto.

Yes, we see the best music, the best paintings, the best sculptures,… when substances are taken to eliminate consciousness and the unnatural chains we have put on our abilities.

The classic 'Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" was quite eye-opening to me. Despite being quite a good technical drawer, I was useless at lifeforms. I relied on rules when I drew, and just now as I write I have for the first time understood why they call a ruler, ie. a rule, as they do.

So if even if I was drawing a landscape I’d see a telephone pole and instead of just drawing what I see, I’d draw what I knew a telephone pole to be - a cylinder. I’d applied a rule to it and like all technical drawings, it would be cold.

But by distracting consciousness, I’d be drawing simply what I saw with no thought as to the identities of objects in the scene. Suddenly a telephone pole was no longer a telephone pole. It no longer had its own shape; no outline. It was purely a change in darkness or color on the page and of course the results were far more natural looking. Everything wouldn’t be exactly the right dimensions or position as before, but it didn’t matter–the end results I’d be thinking ‘Wow, did I really do that?’.

I see many parallels with golf here.

There is a mighty power within the unmoderated world. We’ll be captivated by the beauty of the free, natural woman, the butterfly. We see kids running around in glee, but adults, trained by rules of society, restrained and unhappy. And the next command we hear is 'kids, just settle down". Their moderation has begun.

We hear tournament winners state how they managed to get out of their own way. I think I’d argue here that they’re actually getting in their own way, their true unmoderated self. They’ve managed to successfully keep the way of others from interfering, until those learned ways become truly ways of theirs.

This process is called a reflex arc and is usually associated with reflex actions like pulling the hand away from a hot stove. A reflex arc is the name given to the neural pathway that travels from the muscles involved in a particular reflex action that synapses in the spinal cord rather than the brain. Reflex actions occur quickly because they do not have to travel from the point of sensory input (the finger in the hot stove instance) to the spinal cord, up the spinal cord to the brain, back down to the spinal cord, and out to the muscles of the arm with a signal to pull the arm away from the source of the heat. Rather, reflex actions occur by moving from the point of sensory input to the spinal cord and then right back to the muscles of the arm without conscious input, although the brain will receive sensory input WHILE the reflex action occurs. It gets more intricate in humans because we also have signals that simultaneously travel to antagonistic muscle groups so they relax to magnify the reflex arc signal. So, in the finger touching the hot stove example, the latissimus dorsi muscles of the back and posterior deltoid muscles of the shoulder that function to pull the upper arm backward would contract while the antagonistic pectoralis muscles of the chest and anterior deltoid muscles of the shoulder would be given the signal to relax. That’s all I can remember from physiology class but it is enough to see that the conscious mind is routed out of some motor actions so it cannot muck it up or slow it down (unless pain is the objective, of course).

Very good question!

I’m jumping in a little late on this one but it is a fascinating thread.

One thing I’d like to clarify is this use of the word “don’t” and some people thinking that maybe the subconscious doesn’t understand it. I’d like to clarify this once and for all to everyone reading this…


Furthermore, I’d like to prove it to you!

Ok, this is a simple exercise, you can try it with anyone, anywhere and as long as they are honest, it will prove that our minds do not differentiate when the word “don’t” is used by our subconscious mind.

Ask a person to close their eyes, then tell them you want them to think of anything at all but…DON’T THINK OF A PINK ELEPHANT! Quickly ask them what they are thinking of. Guess what their answer will be.

You can substitute pink elephants for red cars, bunkers, trees, water or skateboarding camels. If they are honest, they will always admit they were thinking about whatever you told them to “DON’T” think about.