Golf Putting: Equivalent Performance with Ball Focused and Target Focused Aiming
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This study addressed several inconsistencies and omissions in golf putting research by testing the performance impact of target focused aiming. Participants were 22 high-level and experienced golfers, currently using ball focused aiming. Participants were allocated in a quasi-random fashion to ball or target focused aiming conditions and each performed 32 putts under competitive conditions on a natural putting green from a distance of 8 ft. Data were recorded as putts holed or missed and further categorised into putts missed long, short, left, right, short left, short right, long left and long right. There was no significant difference between conditions (p > 0.05) for any of the categories tested, despite participants’ prior extreme familiarity and expressed preference for the ball focused technique. These results notwithstanding, we discuss possible explanations for target focused benefits, including the role of vision during putting, the impact of intention during execution and possible expectancy effects. While these findings hold potential implications for golf coaching, more research is clearly required to further understand causative mechanisms and to clarify the existence and nature of advantage for one technique over the other. Based on this study, we recommend that high-level and experienced golfers might try target focused aiming as a ‘cost-free’ experiment.
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