Over the past two weeks the golfers at IMG Academy Leadbetter golf program Academy were exposed to a visual training demonstration that most golfers would not have considered as an important element of success.
From a broad range of research evidence, the visual system is one of the most important mechanisms in decision making because 80-90% of sensory information we extract from the external world is visual. In fact, the eyes can be considered as 'gatekeepers of information' since it is the first mechanism or system that is activated in the decision making process. Particularly relevant to golf, visual misinterpretations are the basis of missed putts, not faulty mechanics.
The golfers at Leadbetter Academy learned the value of the visual system in the way that it feeds the motor system, determining almost every decision that needs to be made physically and tactically. Eye alignment (the ability to accurately aim the two eyes at a target) can affect the athlete's perception of the position of the target, as well as the speed and distance of the target. Students were educated on how to correctly align their eyes and putter face angles at address on the putting green.
In addition, the "Quiet Eye" proved to be a successful exercise for students as most found their putting almost instantly improved. Just as elite athletes would, students learned about maintaining their gaze just behind the ball at address, during the putting stroke and for about 2-3 seconds after contact whereas poor or amateur putters have eyes that roam all over the place and don't consider fine details in their targets. The quiet eye is one of the most important indicators of concentration because under stressful situations everyone has trouble stabilizing one's gaze since the brain cannot deal with all the variables under these situations.
For any aspiring golfer, the key criteria is to practice and define a short focused routine before and during putts with these techniques implemented. Students who do so will find their putting improving in competitive situations because the visual system will help stabilize the mind in ways that can create the ultimate athletic experience: competing in the zone!