A Junior Golfer & Golf Coach's Guide to Making a Swing Change
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.
The brain is a mind-blowing, fascinating, and very unique toole. And guess what? It hates repetition. It instantly tries to cut corners and find newer, faster ways to do things. It gets bored when it does the same thing, such as beating golf balls.
There may be lots of golfers in the world that enjoy hitting hundreds of golf balls down the range with their favorite golf club, and that is fine if those golfers understand that it will not transfer to the golf course. The swing most certainly will not be grooved.
What will help build a new movement that is transferable to the golf course is simulating the type of environment and behavior that goes along with being out there. This is challenging and difficult. The level of challenge and difficulty can be altered depending on an individual’s skill level, but the challenge and difficulty, regardless of level, is the defining factor when it comes to new movement.
Here is how it works inside our heads:
A new movement that is challenging causes 2 cells to connect and form myelin (a fatty type substance that insulates the connection, allowing nerves to travel along more quickly.) The more we challenge and make difficult our repetitions, the more connections we will make, forming even more myelin. Repetition of this cycle is what will make the movement easier, more fluent, and efficient. This type of repetition is a repetition, without repetition, as it will constantly engage the brain and keep it from becoming bored.
The way we make these repetitions challenging is by mixing things up. Here are a few examples that can be incorporated into your practice, or your student's practice, allowing movement change to happen more quickly:
1. Change club after each shot
2. Take 20 seconds break between every shot to plan and reflect
3. Place the golf balls a few feet away from the hitting station forcing you to walk a little for the next golf ball
4. Aim a different direction (with no specific target)