Have you ever taken a golf lesson? Did you see immediate improvement, or did you give up in frustration and revert to your old technique of trial and error?
After thirty-three years of teaching, I’ve noticed a basic pattern that applies to the majority of once-a-week golfers. Understanding the mindset behind this pattern is the gateway to unlocking your potential.
Stage One: The Novice golfer starts off with a clean slate. He or she goes to the practice range with friends several times and has some success in terms of simply making contact with the ball.
Stage Two: The student makes contact most of the time, but wonders why every club seems to go the same distance. Well-meaning friends offer suggestions which produce mixed results. At this point, the student usually seeks professional instruction.
Stage Three: Depending on the instructor’s preferred teaching method, this stage can either catapult the student’s progress or condemn him (or her) to an endless cycle of fault-finding and error correction.
What is the determining factor in the student’s progress?
It’s the instructor’s choice to either focus on mistakes or reinforce and refine the effective parts of the students swing.
Am I suggesting that you ignore critical flaws in technique? Not at all.
I am saying that a student doesn’t have to understand all the technical flaws in their swing in order to correct them. The instructors job is to provide a straightforward key for the student that will reduce, and hopefully eliminate, the technical error.
Constant improvement is the by-product of focusing on an idea or suggestion (what to do) rather than obsessing over what to avoid (what not to do).
For the skeptics who are well-versed in the nuances of perfect mechanics, this theory may seem too simplistic. How can you possibly correct a swing flaw without understanding the contributing factors?
Please consider these two questions.
Do you need to understand the timing cycle of combustion in your car in order to drive? No. You turn the key and start the ignition.
Do you need to understand how electricity works in order to flip the switch and turn on the light? Why should the golf swing be any different?
The biggest mental key to improvement for any golfer, regardless of skill level, is the ability to avoid the seductive trap of obsessing over potential swing flaws and reinforcing the feelings of your best shots.
The desire to learn is admirable, but it must be accompanied by the ability to stop thinking for 1.5 seconds and just hit the damn ball!