London, Jan 30 (ANI): Want to be good at golf? Just don't think too much, that's the conclusion of a new study.
According to the research, the secret to a good putt is to stop worrying about stance, distances and the lie of the green and simply hit the ball.
In a bid to reach the conclusion, psychologists from St Andrews University quizzed 80 skilled and novice golfers to putt using a particular technique until they had mastered it.
Fifty percent of the participants then had to spend five minutes describing in detail what they had just done - while the rest were distracted with an activity, reports the Telegraph.
When they came back to the green, those who had been thinking about their tactics took twice as many attempts to sink a putt as golfers who had not been 'over-thinking'.
Prof Michael Anderson at St Andrews University said: "This effect was especially dramatic in skilled golfers who were reduced to the level of performance of novices after just five minutes of describing what they did.
"Novices, by contrast, were largely unaffected, and perhaps even helped a little, by verbally describing their movements.
"It's a fairly common wisdom in sport that 'thinking too much' hurts performance. However what we found surprising is that simply describing one's putting skill after it has been executed, can be incredibly disruptive to future putting performance.
"In skilled performers particularly, we found that describing their skill simply impaired its retention."
Boffins reckon the loss of performance is due to an effect called verbal overshadowing, which makes the brain focus more on language centres than on brain systems that support the skills in question.
Prof Anderson added: "Our study suggests, in a nutshell, whatever you do, don't think too hard about your technique in between holes.
"We have found that simply talking about one's recent motor action may sow the seeds of poor execution. This observation may have repercussions for athletes who depend on effective mental techniques to prepare for events.
"Moreover, those who teach golf, or any motor skill, might be undoing their own talent in the process." (ANI)