The Alexander Technique is a method that has a lot to offer golfers. The focus is on preventing habitual muscular actions that cause inefficient movement patterns that can lead to injury and poor technique. For example, it's common for golfers to stiffen their neck in preparation to swing and yet be completely unaware of it. I have seen this is sports people of all abilities including top athletes.

The act of stiffening the neck impedes the body's reflex activity and has a detrimental effect on coordination. Unfortunately once it has become a habit it is difficult to stop until it is brought to a conscious level and the individual given instruction on how to move without the habitual preparations, or in other words, to use less effort.

An Alexander Technique lesson involves taking the pupil through a series of movements whilst focusing on their habitual actions that may be interfering with movement. An Alexander teacher will use their hands to promote freer, lighter movement whilst giving verbal instruction. The combination of gentle guidance, instruction and immediate feedback of the improvements help with the learning process. This invariably involves a sense of lightness and less effort whilst performing a movement the pupil usually associates with using more effort. The techniques used encourage the pupil to focus on the moment between the stimulus and their response to it and to recognise what they're doing in the split second before they move; I have found golfers to be particularly good at this part!

A golfer with an appreciation of the basic concepts of the technique may be able to overcome specific difficulties by seeing the problem from a different viewpoint. The combination of a golfer's experience with a knowledge of Alexander's principles can develop a better understanding of some of the vital mechanics that underpin all movement; the neck muscles mentioned above being just one.

This can help a player in a number of ways. From a physical point of view, following Alexander Technique lessons, a golfer will have freer movement and better timing once inappropriate effort and excessive preparatory actions are removed. A poised golfer is also at less risk of injury as better coordination reduces conflicting muscular actions during complex movements such as the swing.

The techniques used also help players get into what sports people call 'The Zone'. This is the main benefit in my view as it speeds up thought processes enabling players to see and read more of their situation and make better decisions as to the right course of action. Players describing their experiences of The Zone often use terms like 'I seemed to have so much more time to think', 'I knew what was going to happen before it did' or 'it was effortless and felt so easy'.

There are a number of things a golfer can do for themselves to appreciate where habits may be limiting performance. Bringing your attention to relevant sensations or events will bring you into the moment and open up the way to The Zone mentioned early. Thinking of your toes in your socks, the ground under your feet, the movement of your ribs as your breath or even softening your face will change what's happening in your mind and hence your body.

I admit these do sound bizarre but I've seen it work again and again for many sports people. Being focused on the present helps to buy you more thinking time and enables you to notice the reactions that cause excessive muscle activity. Try asking yourself when you're playing whether you really need to use as much effort as you're using to swing, chip or putt. Are you tightening your jaw and neck or lifting your shoulders? Do you need to do these actions?

Top golfers can make it look easy as they appear to effortlessly play the shots most of us can only dream about. They can do this day-in, day-out because they're focused, in the moment and therefore able to step up to The Zone.

Author's Bio: 

Roy Palmer is a teacher of The Alexander Technique with over 26 years experience in competitive sport and has spent the last 15 years experimenting with new ways to enhance performance. His latest book, Golf Sense has received international acclaim from coaches and players alike. For more information please visit