In “Restoring Tiger Woods”, I pointed to a story about how Tiger’s new coach had him practicing his swing barefoot. There was some speculation, here, that he would actually play barefoot in the Ryder Cup in Wales, with the speculation saying:
In a press conference on Friday, regarding his preparation of the Ryder Cup that is taking place at the twenty-ten course at the Celtic Manor, Wales in October, Tiger Woods revealed that, that he was going to go barefoot on the field to remain in his form. Yes, this is kind of strange but this is the whole truth.
It was not to be (and to tell you the truth, I never saw any other article saying that). And it is actually not too surprising. First of all, the weather there has been rather cold (and, at times, wet). Those who don’t regularly go barefoot (and there is no indication that Tiger does) often think they will get very cold feet, and they are often right because of the lack of circulation resulting from wearing shoes all the time. Secondly, Tiger is under a lot of scrutiny as it is. It takes quite a bit of inner confidence to go barefoot in situations in which other folks expect shoes. What with all his troubles, it would seem doubtful that he would want to add that stress.
On the other hand, I do wonder about this technique of practicing the swing barefoot but then not playing barefoot. I would think that one would want to perform in exactly the same fashion that one practiced, because of muscle memory and the subtle mental aspects of training the body to repeat the same thing exactly the same over and over. For instance, I just can’t see a basketball player practicing free throws with 5 pound weights on his wrists (to strengthen his shot), and then shooting without the weights during the game. The lack of weight would throw off the entire shot.
So maybe the barefoot practice might help a bit. But I would also think it would get his brain used to feeling certain feedback sensations as part of the swing, and when he was shod he wouldn’t get those sensations. Wouldn’t the diminish the effect of the training?