Sunday, January 27, 2013

What's New in Golf Instruction for 2013?

GOLF COACHING:  Coaching golf is about much more than perfecting the swing. There are tour-tested, sport science-based strategies that coaches use to help tour players score at the highest level.  What the focus will be is differentiating coaching from teaching, practical applications of motor learning & motor performance, using feedback to accelerate learning all of which are used to help the best players perform under pressure.  Most amateurs are just concerned with changing their golf swing.  We need to make the shift from perfect technique to learning how to score.  How do you turn that knowledge about your swing as a habit so you can transfer it to the golf course. You need to be able to control the golf ball and have enough technique to hit different shots to get around a golf course. It doesn't make much sense to try and swing like Tiger, its not about getting your swing to look a certain way, how does that help if you don't have a technique that will help you score.  The constant fallacy is that the reason you shot a high score is because of some technical issue in your swing you need work out on the range.  This isn't necessarily the answer to why your score added up the way it did. What other skills in your game are lacking?  How often do you get up and down?  How many 3 putts did you have? Do you hit enough fairways? Its about putting the ball where you intend to put it and having practiced the skills to do so.

As an LPGA Tour Player, for me to compete every week against the best players in the world requires highly finely tuned skills in each area of my game and a precise practice routine to be able to take those skills and have them come out under tournament pressure on the golf course.  I had a team that I worked with of golf instructor, golf fitness professional and golf coach/psychologist. What most amateurs aren't aware of is that becoming a good scorer on the course requires training that is geared toward transferring skills to the course. This is much different than standing on the driving range hitting balls and changing swing thoughts on every ball.  There is no correlation to taking that out to the golf course.  Just because you did it on the range doesn't mean it will immediately work on the golf course. There is science based on this, and it is called motor learning and motor development.  You will begin to hear more about golf coaching now, finally, thanks to Dr. Rick Jensen and Henry Brunton.  I worked with Dr. Jensen starting in 1993, and he helped me successfully get onto the LPGA Tour and stay out there. He changed me from playing golf swing on the golf course and taught me how to score through getting out of being such a technical expert with my swing; we worked on all the skills of my game to tour level and managed my game on the golf course, through strategy, how I practiced simulating golf course conditions and shots I would face. We put pressure on my practice so it would be no different once the tournament came, I had prepared for that.  He currently has developed the Golf Coaching Track for Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) and now golf instruction can finally shift out of all mechanics and into how to get the ball in the hole and transfer the swing you are practicing on the range to the golf course. This is what golf coaching is about. It's a long term understanding that making a change in your technique requires different practice than just beating balls on the range.

 To be able to take it to the course and own it so it will hold up under pressure, there is more to it than understanding the cause for the problems in your swing and what to do to fix them.  Since golf is a motor skill and requires not only repetition to store the skill as a habit,  you must also practice it and have feedback from your coach, once you are training the skill with that feedback, then you need to expose it to different conditions to simulate those you would encounter on the golf course.  Can you perform successfully from all kinds of lies and conditions?  When you first attempt to do this, it will be difficult because it will take many repetitions to get rid of your old habit to develop the new skill enough to see it come out on the golf course.  This step will take some time and is where most golfers give up or switch to another thought because they don't think it is working.  That is why they never get any better, they abandon it before they have trained it well enough through all the conditions necessary. This is such and important part of skill development where if you continue to build that skill under these conditions, it will transfer to the golf course and if most amateurs understood this about how a golf skill is learned they wouldn't abandon it looking for the next quick fix. Once you have transferred it to the course, and you can draw upon it under pressure you know you have completely learned the skill.  This is the essence of golf coaching; you learn that quick fixes are an illusion, it takes time to master a skill and how to train it to hold up on the golf course; you will have the skills to play to your potential.