Coaching Golf Swing Mechanics
The golf coaching world is extremely (sometimes, excessively) passionate about coaching golf swing mechanics. As a result, a vast understanding of what should happen during a golf swing, along with the science behind it, has been developed. Unfortunately, how to train golf swing mechanics is often lacking from the information that is available to golf coaches.
When coaching golf swing mechanics, golf coaches provide one of two cues, either internal or external. To quickly summarize each, internal cues lead to the golfer thinking about the movement of his or her body, while external cues help the golfer think about the effect and outcome of his or her movement.
Internal cues, while traditionally the most common among golf coaches, have been shown to have a detrimental effect on the reaction time and quality of movement of an athlete; conversely, external cues have been shown to be far more effective when movement is being coached.
With internal cues, such as a golf coach telling a golfer to change his or her head position, the golfer will constrain his or her motor system by interfering with the automatic motor control processes that would typically regulate the movement.
A golf coach verbalizing an adjustment to a golfer’s swing mechanics is going to cause the golfer to think about the movements of the body, which will interfere with reaction and subconscious movement. This is due to the intention-action model, which suggests that intention of the movement is the first thing processed by the brain. To a golfer, this would likely be considering where or how the shot needs to be hit.
After the intention is processed, the movement is then self-organized. In other words, muscles are selected by the golfer at the last moment, likely subconsciously, while the conscious thought is on the outcome.
A golf coach asking a golfer to focus on a particular movement of his or her swing mechanics would be working backwards, and going against the principles of movement design. To more effectively coach golf swing mechanics, a golf coach should coach the intentions and create a training environment designed to force self-organization that will lead to natural correction. This will allow the golfer to develop a unique style.