I saw an interesting article by Mike Kanski, from the world renown Swash Putting school last week demonstrating Microsoft’s HoloLens to improve putting. It works on the principle of “Quiet Eye”, a technique used by England’s Rugby kicker Owen Farrell pictured above. Owen prepares to take his kick by standing behind the ball and tracking his eyes along the path to where he wants the ball to go, in his case over the cross bar. Whilst this may look unorthodox, the results speak for themselves.
Joan Vickers, a specialist in Kinesiology (the study of body movement), undertook a study with elite golfers to understand how they use their eyes to sink putts. She used headgear which allowed her to see exactly where the elite golfers were focusing their eyes, before, during and after a putt.
She discovered elite golfers have a common pattern of fixation with their eyes during each putt, which is different to that of an average player (16 handicap).
She found that the average player is more erratic with their gaze and they don’t hold their gaze on the ball for as long, before taking the putter back. They also tend to follow the ball with their eyes along its path, resulting in a less consistent strike of the ball, and consequently missed putts. Taking into account that shots from putts in a round equate to 35% of your score, thats a lot of shots potentially missed.
Then try this exercise. Take a training stick and try balancing it in the palm of your hand holding it vertically, as shown below. It’s difficult to control and I guarantee your eyes will be flitting around frantically as you try to control it from falling.
Now take that same stick, but this time focus on the point at the top of the stick with your eyes. Keeping your eyes focused on that spot your body will move accordingly and unbelievably you will balance the stick.
Weird I know, but the reason it works is due to your eyes fixating on a point. The eyes send a message to the brain which coordinates your body to respond automatically. If your eyes are moving around frantically, you result in flooding your brain with too many messages and your body becomes confused, unclear on how it should respond.
So how should you use Quiet Eye to improve your putting?
Read your putt as normal, set your ball on the line you wish to follow. Address the ball, focus on a dimple at the back of the ball, now track your eyes to the back of the hole. Track back to your ball and focus for 2 seconds on the dimple at the back of the ball. Keeping your eyes focused on the dimple take your putter back and make contact. Keeping you eyes fixated on the dimple is the same as focusing on the point on the top of the stick. Your body will adjust accordingly as you wait for the sound of the ball dropping into the hole before looking up to check.
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