Motor Learning Concepts - Optimizing Feedback

Dr. Timothy D. Lee
  • Author: Dr. Timothy D. Lee
  • Motor Learning Expert
Facebook Twitter Share Email Print
motor learning feedback


Golfers love advice, be it from a trained professional, a friend, or from the person in the next stall at the driving range. Sometimes it helps and sometimes it makes matters worse.  For now, let’s assume you’re getting good advice and we will discuss how you can learn from it to improve your play on the course. But first, we will define a few terms just to clarify exactly what we are talking about.


Of critical importance is the difference between the various sources of information. We call it “augmented feedback” when the information comes from an outside source, like an instructor, video, launch monitor, or even a training aid (we’ll have more to say about training aids in a later article.) We call it “inherent feedback” when it arises from within, such as seeing, feeling or hearing information.


There are two very important points about to make about the relationship between augmented feedback and inherent feedback in golf. First, augmented feedback is only legally available to the golfer off the course; inherent feedback is always available. Secondly, augmented feedback provides information about things that the golfer doesn’t understand when trying to interpret their inherent feedback. However, golfers can learn to get this information using these inherent feedback sources. Appreciating the importance of these two points is critical to understanding how feedback can be optimized to enhance learning.  


For more on Motor Learning, be sure to check out Matthew Cooke's FREE Online Motor Learning Course. 


For example, try to remember when you first heard someone say that your swing finish resembled a “chicken wing” and had resulted in a hard slice across the ball. You had no idea what the term meant, what the finish looked like, or why it would result in a hard slice across the ball. In this case, augmented feedback would be critical to learning about the chicken wing and also to how to fix it. For example, verbal feedback could help you to get an understanding of the nature of the term and perhaps to visualize what the finish looked like. Video feedback could also help to better understand what your arms were doing in the follow through. A guidance tool might be used to prevent you from making the chicken wing with your follow through. And a glove, placed under the left armpit, might also help you to correct the action.


Without question, these sources of augmented feedback will help you make corrections on the range. But, as we all know, the errors we correct on the range sometimes return to haunt us on the course. And remember, none of those sources of augmented feedback are available to the golfer on the course. So, how can you optimize the use of augmented feedback in practice in order to improve your play on the course? Part 2 in this series explains why the motor learning research suggests that the more you come to rely or depend on augmented feedback to make corrections on the range, the worse off you will probably be on the course.


external feedback


Too often i see golfers and golf coaches heavily invested in augmented feedback tactics and don't space the use of this out enough to help golfers make things stick. Result - like Tim said "the worse off you'll probably be on the course". Well said Tim!