Snakes in the brain
“Snakes in the brain” was one way the genial and talented prolific winner on the PGA tour Ernie Els described his putting meltdown on the first green at Augusta National golf course as he started the second round of the 2016 Masters golf tournament.
It took six putts to get the ball in the hole from just 3 feet and any golfer watching, amateur or professional would have felt like turning their eyes away as a four times Major winner and previous number one in the world had a disastrous meltdown with his putting stroke.
Well Ernie is not the only illustrious player to suffer with what in golfing terms is called “the yips” where the brain seems unable to convey to the muscles the clean and precise movement required to make the stroke. Last season Tiger Woods struggled with his chip shots which at times seemed to give the ball a mind of it’s own which did not include heading anywhere in the direction of the hole.
And golfers are not the only sports people to struggle with this problem in their careers. It can suddenly appear in the games of professional and amateur snooker, darts and cricket players. In fact any skill requiring a high level of subtle muscle, eye and brain co-ordination can become plagued by this seemingly irrational inability to carry out a movement that may have been working perfectly for years.
So what is going on here? Basically there is some sort of neurological interference with the regular messages that pass through the brain to the muscles resulting in a conflict between those messages and the movements that we have pre programmed into the muscles.
Now if you think you may be suffering from a Functional Neurological Disorder then the first step is to seek help from your medical practitioner. However this particular issue can be as much psychological as physical and I offer processes and techniques designed to help return the brain signals back to smooth natural communication. This is an area that I specialise in for musicians and sports people. In fact any situation that involves high levels of performance which could be winning a golf tournament or just writing one’s name in front of other people. Anything where pressure seems to break down the natural communications between body and brain.
To help get the body and brain back to clear communication it is not only the muscles and thinking that need to be examined but also our psychological state. The golfers yips or the violinist’s “pearlies” are often just the presenting symptoms of unconscious issues from past experiences that, unless resolved will continue to sabotage our best efforts to think clearly and act smoothly under pressure.
I work regularly in this area with professional and amateur golfers, snooker players, footballers musicians and have also presented workshops to performers and sports persons at Universities and Colleges around the country. In fact for any discipline that calls on us to perform at times out of our comfort zone and requires clear thinking, confidence and clarity of physical movement I offer a range of powerful strategies and techniques designed to take performance to the next level.