“I can do it on the range, but when I get to the course, it all goes wrong.”
This must be one of the most common phrases from golfers across the globe. There seems to be a trending belief that comes with the above statement. It usually resembles, “this cannot be possible, why does this always happen?” To answer that quite simply, you can’t expect to survive in the jungle if you’ve only lived in a cage.
Swing changes can often be arbitrary or simply stylistic; however, in most cases, when a golf coach insists on their student making one, it is usually necessary. It’s how those students are attempting to make the change that worries me.
All too often, I see very repetitive, monotonous and mindless golf ball beating on a perfectly flat and comfortable lie on the driving range. As much as that’s repetition, and repetition is the mother of all skill, it is not how movement skills are attained, nor is it how the brain learns.
Let’s define a few things.
Let’s briefly go over the definitions of a few words that appear in this particular topic of discussion.
The first word is Lesson.
The word lesson is defined as an amount of teaching given at one time; a period of learning or teaching.
That brings us to our second word: Teaching.
The word teaching is defined as ideas or principles taught by an authority, i.e. the teacher.
All too often, junior golfers are discouraged from getting outside in the winter weather and putting together a practice session. Golfers don't want to play in wet, cold and dark conditions, never mind practice. The reasons and excuses are understandable, but not desirable.
Is this a tradition we want to continue or cultivate?
As coaches, we want to influence players and help them create physical, technical and psychological habits of excellence. We must communicate in ways that compel them to action. A coach can have all the knowledge in the world, but if we can’t influence students to apply the knowledge we teach them, that is all it will remain, knowledge.
We love to read about golf and human performance. We also love to listen to other coach’s views, beliefs and opinions. We often find ourselves engaged in healthy discussions on Twitter or Facebook forums about golf and human performance, too.
Recently, there was a post from Alex Norn that showed his hands all battered and bruised from a vast amount of ball beating. A number of coaches shared this image, and attached messages like ‘this is what success and dedication looks like’.
The mental game of golf is often described as a game within a game, and the Game Like Training team could not agree with this more. In 2007, when I began to investigate how some of the best athletes in the world applied psychological habits of excellence into their performances, I noticed that often the greatest athletes did not compete against the field, they competed against themselves. In golf, the top players like Tiger Woods understand that they cannot control the winning score or what the rest of the field are doing.