Use Your NogginOctober 18, 2016

A New Way To Train Your Brain For Better Golf

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Illustration by Brian Cronin

By now, you've probably noticed Jason Day's pre-shot routine: Day flutters his eyes open and closed behind the ball while taking a deep breath before stepping into nearly every shot. It might look odd, but it has a purpose. It's the result of Day's work in controlling brain activity using an app-based product called FocusBand ($500). When you wear the company's headgear and hit a golf shot, sensors record what's going on in your head—namely, are you focused or distracted?

The device was invented in 2009 by the Australian father-son team of Graham and Henry Boulton to help train athletes in all sports get into what is commonly known as "the zone," or as the Boultons call it, a "state of no-mindedness, or Mushin." The goal: Training your mind to perform the process of each swing without having to consciously think about the routine or outcome as you perform it.

The FocusBand app displays your brain score after each shot—known as the Mushin Factor—and gives you easy-to-decipher feedback on how well you were able to clear your mind by using color-coded images of a brain. Shades of red indicate a loss of focus. Green means you were in the zone.

Adding to its golf application is a partnership with the launch-monitor company FlightScope. You can analyze your brain activity alongside your swing data with its VX app ($10).

It's fascinating to see if there's a correlation between how you felt about a swing, the result of the shot, and whether the app indicates your mind was clear. This might help explain the age-old frustration of why you hit it great on the range but struggle on the course. Your brain is getting in the way.


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