Coaching Golf Swing Mechanics

GLT Content Writer & Developer Joe Culverhouse
  • Author: Joseph Culverhouse
  • GLT Content and Communications Manager
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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.

 

Simple repetition in golf swing mechanics drills doesn't create lasting skills.

Bernstein’s Principle states that the body will adapt to accomplish the desired task or goal. Golf coaches interested in coaching swing mechanics should help players define the goal before attempting any major adjustments.

When sharing information with golfers, golf coaches should be mindful of the Knowledge of Performance and the Knowledge of Result. Knowledge of Performance leads to internal focus, while Knowledge of Result leads to the desired external focus discussed above.

Anyone familiar with Game Like Training knows where we stand on designing practice. When coaching golf swing mechanics, golf coaches should understand the importance of creating a productive training environment. Under no circumstances should practice be limited to the continually repetitive striking of balls with the same iron, from the same location, with the same result… unless the golf coach’s goal is to create the greatest range golfer in history. If a coach is actually interested in coaching swing mechanics and, as an added bonus, creating a better all-around golfer, the practice should be varied, within an environment designed to foster the necessary swing adaptations.

At the risk of oversimplification, a golf coaching interesting in coaching golf swing mechanics can encourage the development of retainable skills by focusing on three areas:

1. Coach the intention. A golfer should focus on a goal, not what is happening in a swing.

2. Provide the proper amount and type of feedback. Performance feedback leads to internal focus, while Result feedback leads to external focus.

3. Create a Game-Like Training environment. Repetition fosters short term, non-retainable performance, while variety creates long-term, retainable skill.

Remember, the golfer comes first. While it is tempting to point to things in a swing and say “see, I told you that’s what you were doing wrong, now do this to correct it,” that is just protecting our egos, not adequately coaching golf swing mechanics. Skills are developed best, better retained and more easily accessed when developed naturally in an environment designed to force the golfer to create the adjustments subconsciously.

Coaching golf swing mechanics is a primary focus for many golf coaches. At GLT Golf, we aren’t trying to change that… we’re just trying to make sure it’s done as scientifically, effectively and efficiently as possible. 

To learn more about motor learning and see how you can gain PGA Certification points, visit GLT's Online Motor Learning Course with Matthew Cooke, and be sure to check out the Motor Learning Certification section of gltgolf.com

Coaching Golf Swing Mechanics