THE 32 BALL EXERCISE
In order to build a habit, one must give conscious attention to what is being done. That is a MANUAL activity designed to build a skill. For a habit to MATURE, one must consciously replicate the (skill) action long enough for a habit to be formed. At that point, our systems transfer that learning to a "subconscious" or unconscious reservoir and our habit is ready for service. Habits function only on an AUTOMATIC PATH. It takes MANUAL activity to create skills from which to build habits and an AUTOMATIC process to release the habits, once matured. Using a clear key will open the automatic path.
The definition of AUTOMATIC PRINCIPLE is: "When habits start, conscious thinking about action stops." However, it is vital to notice that all conscious thought does not stop. It just disconnects from habit production, and tends to interrupt any habit you are trying to discharging. If you are thinking about what you are doing while you are doing it, or giving yourself any kind of action command, you will be contributing to the interruption of an habitual function, no matter how many you have or how good they are. Like it or not, you will be left to skills, which require conscious thought for their action. So you must think about something other than the action you are using when you want a habit to function. It may be easy for brushing your teeth, but it takes a little planning, order and focus for golf.
To BUILD a HABIT from a skill, AND an AUTOMATIC PATH to put in on, it is necessary to BALANCE MANUAL & AUTOMATIC activity. That is accomplished through a series of 32 Ball exercises. It could also be "32 Swings," since no ball is required for the movements to be learned. Your natural system doesn't know and doesn't care whether a ball is there or not. (You may care consciously, but not your non-conscious).
FIRST - Execute four shots (or swngs) while thinking about what you are trying to do - on MANUAL.
SECOND - Execute four shots using a Clear Key. MANUAL input is made pre-shot. The actual shot is made on AUTOMATIC in this sequence.
THIRD - Repeat steps one and two, three more times. (4+4)x4=32.
FOURTH - Duplicate this process for each skill, regularly, until you can take the habit to the course. When you can use your clear key and get shots off that match what you ask for in pre-shot, those habits are formed. That takes as long as it takes. Expect at least a week just to become acclimated to anything new, like using a Clear Key.
FIFTH - When playing after a building session, play on AUTOMATIC, using a Clear Key, in order to evaluate your progress.
Remember that growth is an UNEVEN process. It rarely follows a straight, upward line. Do not be alarmed by occasional regressions. Use the range to BUILD. Use the course to practice the AUTOMATIC PATH and evaluate the progress of your HABIT development.
ADJUSTMENTS require as much BALANCE of MANUAL and AUTOMATIC as BUILDING. However, there is a difference in WHEN they are implemented. Since adjustments are only appropriate with habits that are already in place, manual thinking at the moment of shot-making is rarely necessary. All manual thought pertaining to an adjustment is best done as part of pre-shot activity. BEFORE stepping over the ball, one gives direct attention to the desired alteration. From that point, the normal procedure for going on automatic is initiated.
Minor adjustments can be made during play, to the extent they are considered only within pre-shot time-frames. Major adjustments are best left to the practice area. Players must decide individually what is major or minor for them.
The 32 Ball exercise remains valid for adjustments. It can be carried out (4+4)x4, or it can completed by making all 32 shots using a Clear Key, so long as the proper manual input for the adjustment is clearly inserted during the pre-shot period.
Developing habits is at its best when it is well designed and organized. There is little value in scattered building. To insure the most effective personal program, enlist the help of a Professional who is willing to stay with you from start to finish.