We've begun focused work on rebuilding my golf swing. We hoped that by using centering (as Jerry has described here in recent posts), we'd be able to make changes quickly. Unfortunately, the process has turned out to be a little more complicated than that.
The faulty patterns in my swing are so deeply ingrained into my body that they feel "normal." I literally cannot feel when I've gone out of center during the golf swing. In many ways, we'd be having an easier time teaching me to swing a golf club if I'd never played the game before at all and thus wasn't working against years of patterning.
We brought a couple of video movement-analysis apps to the range last week, and being able to watch myself helped immeasurably. Watching in slow motion made it clear that there's a lot to work on.
Most critically, what I noticed from those videos is that I usually start out of center--I collapse my shoulders in toward my chest, drop my head downward out of line with my spine, and make the forward bend in the body from the spine rather than the hips. Each of these problems is so ingrained that I don't feel out-of-whack when I step up to address the ball. I still feel that I'm centered.
Now that it's clear to me that the problems with my swing begin there, my work toward improving the swing gets simpler. There's a clear focus. The actual work will involve invoking the ritual approach that Jerry describes. First of all I will come to center. Then I will take my stance, trying to build the feeling within myself that an engaged spine, balanced energy at the shoulders and grounding at the hips is more centered than the various breaks in the body that I do now. And then, rather than hit the ball, I will step back and repeat the process, again and again, until my old pattern stops feeling "normal" and is replaced by the new one.
It's nothing glamorous, the work I'm describing here. Indeed, if I don't bring careful concentration to what I'm feeling, I'm likely to succumb to boredom and fall right back into my old patterns. But if I'm diligent, eventually my initial set-up will get re-patterned. It won't be fun, per se, but the first step to rebuilding my swing comes from fixing the faulty foundation.