Dr. Izzy Justice - Sports Neuroscientist
Dr. Izzy Justice is a Sports Neuroscientist and has studied the brain's effects on sports performance for over 30 years. He was the first person to integrate emotional quotient into sports and athletic performance. The Emotional Quotient is the emotional intelligence used to positively manage your emotions (brain activity) to overcome challenges and enhance performance. Dr. Justice has written many books on the subject and completed thousands of hours of research into the brain activity of golfers while they swing. His research has developed definitive data on how brain activity directly affects how well we perform in our golf game.
For instance, his research showed that par putts inside 10ft, have higher brain activity than birdie putts of the same distance - resulting in par putts being hit too hard for the intended target. His conclusion is that golfers should play less break on all their par putts. But brain noise (high activity) is not the only revelation from studying brain EEG's...Dr. Justice's research also shows that the loss of a TARGET while putting (your brain is not holding a target because it's distracted) is by far, the #1 reason for missed makeable putts (inside 10ft).
Dr. Justice has completed over 16000 brain scans on golfers since 2015 when the wireless EEG was developed. The wireless EEG allows Dr. Justice to place a portable wireless Electroencephalogram headset on a golfer and measure the brain activity while he/she plays golf. His results provide us with new information on how brain activity during play affects all golf shots, from putting to full shots!
I will discuss in future posts just exactly how Dr. Justice’s research results affect all golfer’s games. But for now, here are some of them:
Holding the TARGET...keeping the target forefront in our mind is the most important component of golf swing performance. When a golfer is totally focused on the target of their putt or shot...their brain activity goes dramatically down, resulting in higher performance!
Brain Noise...The biggest distraction in the brain activity of golfers is our own minds. 85% of bad shots occur because of high brain activity during the stroke or swing.
Brain Adjustments...Mental strength is making the correct brain adjustments during play.
Pressure... in golf results from high brain activity (bad) and too many negative distractions in our thought processes.
The opposite of pressure... in golf is the absence of brain activity or low brain activity (good) and the absence of negative distractions in our thought processes.
Neurohacks... are the key to lowering brain activity in your golf game. These are techniques to reduce brain noise and lower brain activity.
Golf is one of the toughest sports because the target is out in space, and when we swing, we are looking down at the ball and NOT at the target. To the degree that our minds can hold the target as we swing, our shot dispersion is greatly diminished, and performance is enhanced. But how do we do that is the question...
Let’s Start with a look at Dr. Justice’s research findings on putting...
What makes putting difficult is that the eyes are not on target when putting... The mind loses focus every 3-10 seconds, creating internal distractions and losing the target you chosen. Without a target, the"distracted" brain will confuse muscle communication, leading to mishits/poor strokes, and wrong force.
Putting Practice - His research shows the more different the practice putt is from an actual shot, the more useless that practice is because the brain is fully aware of this fact, and the mind wanders more. Dr. Justice's recommendation is to practice putt with only one ball, and never from the same spot. You want to simulate actual putts on the course and eliminate negative thoughts.
Putting During a Round - While playing a round, doing practice strokes looking at the ground beside the ball, just before hitting the putt, has a negative impact on brain in over 95% of the time. Eliminate these types of practice strokes to allow your brain to focus on holding your target. Your putting practice stroke is not a real practice stroke. You're not hitting a ball. The brain knows that. It's an unnecessary distraction, robbing your brain of precious seconds it needs to be holding the target, because the eyes are instead, focused on the ground.
We define "negative thoughts" as anything distracting a golfer from holding the target. What makes golf the most challenging target sport of all is that our eyes are not on the target ... so the brain must “remember" where the target is....which is the most important variable in putting.
Putting is a target sport. Targets are captured by our eyes but processed in the brain (middleman), before the muscles execute the stroke. When a "practice" stroke is made just before the actual stroke, it will activate a different part of the brain (memory), which diminishes sensory (eye) input. A practice stroke not focused on the target creates more brain noise as a distraction. Dr. Justice recommends never rehearsing a shot without a target in sight.
For an average person today, the brain will be distracted by itself (lose focus) every 3-10 seconds. In a 45-second pre-shot routine, that means there can be 4-15 times a possible distraction can enter the brain. Knowing this, is key to becoming a good putter so that the target is never lost.
His research discovered that brain scans on golfers while playing, saw the highest EEG activity (brain noise) on Greens, rather than on Tee Boxes or Fairways. When putting, the brain knows that accuracy is premium, and a final hole score is imminent! While waiting to putt, one must try and reduce brain noise. So, while waiting your turn, use the time to reduce the noise!
This research by Dr. Justice revealed to me how my putting routine, which I’ve used for 12 years, has been so advantageous. I’ve often been told by fellow players that I’m a good putter...My putting routine reflects my full swing routine, in that I'm always TARGET focused!
I stand behind the ball and find my target, which is either the hole on straight putts or the high-point on breaking putts.
I walk up beside the ball with my eyes on the target and take two practice strokes while looking at the TARGET (hole or high-point).
Then I step to the ball and immediately, without any delay, take one last look at the target and make my stroke. My mind is totally focused on the target throughout the putting process! My average time for each putt is 14 seconds...
All these years, unknowingly, I was using Dr. Justice’s target-focused approach to putting. This allowed me to quiet my mind as I only thought about and focused, only on the target. I was HOLDING THE TARGET, in my mind!
Dr. Chris Nix
**For more information on the One Plane Swing theOne Plane Golfer eBook is available on the for sale on the home page of this site. It's a beautifully illustrated description of the One Plane Swing and how to apply it to your game.