Golf Motor Learning 101

GLT Content Writer & Developer Joe Culverhouse
  • Author: Joseph Culverhouse
  • GLT Content Writer & Developer
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motor learning

Let’s start simple: what is motor learning? Easy, it’s finding out what makes a Hemi different from a standard big block, and why you need to tune Triumph every time the seasons change. Now, if you believe that, can I interest you in a beachfront condo timeshare in Nebraska?


Believe it or not, motor learning has nothing to do with cars or physical motors as we commonly think of them. The motor in question is the human motor system, and motor learning is concerned only with motor skills.

More directly, motor learning is the study of how skills are acquired, retained and transferred. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what motor learning means for golfers.


To what is the 'Motor' in Golf Motor Learning referring?


For a beginning golfer with no previous experience that has trouble simply making contact with the ball, there is some benefit to practicing in a blocked manner, i.e. focusing on simply hitting a ball over and over again until elementary skills begin to take shape. However, once some degree of skill becomes evident, practice should become more and more varied.


By varying or interleaving practice, golfers are encouraging the development of motor skills by creating long-term changes within the motor process. Therefore, interleaved practice in an environment designed to simulate stresses faced in actual competition is the best way for golfers to acquire skill.


 Game Like Trainings Guide To Motor Learning

golf motor learning


Now that we’ve covered how skills are acquired, let’s discuss how golfers retain skills.


Many golf coaches and golfers get tripped up here. That’s because many golfers and golf coaches think that because they’ve seen a short-term spike in performance following the practice of a certain element, that element should be repeated as frequently as possible in order to get it as perfect as possible. It’s a common mistake, and if you’re judging your skill off performance, it’s a mistake that’s easy to understand.


Unfortunately, performance is temporary and shouldn’t be used as a metric to gauge performance for golfers… or anyone, for that matter.


Just as with acquiring skill, in order for skills to be retained for as long of a period of time as possible, they should be developed as naturally as possible, in a situation that simulates the situations the golfer will face in competition as closely as possible. Not only is this how skills are developed and retained, but this is also what makes skills more transferable.


A golf swing is a motor skill, and by simulating game-like situations, golfers are not just learning to hit a certain shot, they are learning the motor process that makes the shot possible. The game-like setting encourages golfers to run through the process in a way they’ll be replicating during on-course play.


To summarize, motor learning has nothing to do with automobiles. Motor learning is the study of how skills are acquired, retained and transferred.


By making practice as game like as possible, golfers and golf coaches encourage and enhance better skill acquisition, retention and transferability. Hitting golf balls repeatedly on the range may be how golf training has been done for centuries, but at Game Like Training, we look to science, not tradition, in our quest to help golfers think and train differently.


After all, people assumed space travel was impossible for centuries, too, but thanks to advancements in rocket motor lear- … never mind, that might be a confusing example. Anyway, you get the point. 


Get GLT's Online Motor Learning Course for Golf here.


GLT Golf. Think Differently. Train Differently.

glt golf motor learning