An effective golf swing requires proper setup by the golfer and stance, a specific grip of the golf club, a predetermined backswing and timing such that it all comes together to strike and propel the ball the required distance and to the target at hand. Golfers, either consciously or unconsciously, go through a pre-swing check and analysis, almost like the sensor mechanism/ processor of an automobile's airbag system, which goes through a split-second analysis prior to actual detonation.
If the golfer actually thought about each step of this analysis and made conscious independent decisions each step of the swing, the swing would take hours, instead of seconds.
A "swing thought", is a simple thought that the golfer keeps in mind as they swing the golf club, in order to hit the ball properly. Swing thoughts are sort of a shorthand memory that golfers use to trigger the proper physical response. Swing thoughts enable golfers to "automate" a great deal of the analysis and hit the ball smoothly and effectively, and avoid the golfer having to make independent decisions each step of the way. Swing thoughts boil it all down to one simple thought that the golfer can use to hit the ball.
For example, one popular swing thought is to grip the golf club as if one were "gripping a tiny sparrow". This swing thought instructs the golfer to not overgrip the club, but hold the club just securely enough to maintain control of the club. The result is a more relaxed swing, with the other compents of the swing less likely impeded.
In law school, as you probably realize by now, the analyses are complicated and complex, ever-changing, infinitely detailed and challenging. Every single day that you go to law school (and when you take exams), you are faced with analyses of legal problems.
Generally, it all starts with the basic currency of law school- the cases; judicial opinions used to explain, describe or establish a point of law, trend in the law, or new direction of the law. Law students are assigned cases to read and go to class to face the dreaded Socratic inquest (or witness their peers being grilled). Law students spend hours upon hours attempting to make sense of cases, trying to memorize facts and generally familiarizing themselves to the point of avoiding the worst kind of embarassment in class.
But throughout their studies, many law students read cases in a rote manner, conducting analysis upon analysis. One popular shorthand used by law students since time immemorial is "IRAC"- Issue Rule Analysis Conclusion. IRAC is certainly a useful tool for dissecting the basic structure of a judicial opinion. The student identifys the issue, states the rule provided in the case, describes the analysis and then the conclusion reached by the judge. Many students read cases, use IRAC and stop there. However, IRAC is an analytical tool, but certainly not an analysis in and of itself. Students who stop at IRAC miss a key step in the analytical process and are severly disadvantaged at exam time.
Now for the law student "swing thought". This swing thought will also help you to begin to think about how to perform the key step in the legal analytical process that most students miss (at least until well into their second year).
The swing thought is simply this: before you read a case or an exam fact pattern imagine that you have graduated from law school and passed the bar. You are sitting in your office and your adminstrative assistant brings a new client in. The client has a problem.
Now read the case or exam fact pattern.
That's it. The swing thought is that you are a real lawyer, faced with a real legal problem. This will make the reading less abstract, and the fact-sifting and analysis real to you. You will read with purpose. The assignment before you will hopefully cease being an abstract notion, with dry facts and issues and become a real legal problem to be solved.
And by the way, that's what the legal pedagogy is all about- teaching you to think like a lawyer. Law school, in many ways is a trade school- you learn by doing (as opposed to most of your undergraduate studies, in which you learn by reading, memorizing and regurgitating).
You are a few short years away from becoming a real lawyer. Now is the time to start thinking like a lawyer. And the best way to do it is to begin to solve legal problems. As you read your cases, and especially as you approach exams, begin to the work the same way you will do the work in practice.
In my book, Law School Labyrinth, I describe a methodology, the Pyramid Outline Method, to help you read and analyze cases, as well as assimilate the "black letter" law, so necessary for succeeding on exams. I encourage you to read the book and develop your methodology as quickly as possible in law school. It will help you to succeed in law school, but more importantly, begin to learn to "think like a lawyer.