Almost every student I have ever taught comes into a lesson or series of lessons with one critically detrimental attribute… That they can change habit just by thinking about changing that habit. Most students just believe that they can “do” the right golf swing if they consciously understand the correct motion. This mind set couldn’t be further from the truth. In my opinion, it isn’t the ability to understand the correct motion that deters us, it’s not the ability to physically make the correct motion either. It’s the ability and the process of learning that often hinders most students.
I love teaching kids, especially younger kids. Not because they are great golfers, but more because they just shut up and try to do what I say. They are accustom to learning, it their only job in life at the present time. Adults however, don’t just “shut up and try.” They ask questions, they argue what they already “know” and most frustrating as an instructor… they are afraid to fail. Below are a few of the most common mistakes and fixes for those of you struggling to makes changes.
THINKING THAT WHAT YOU ARE FEELING IS WHAT YOU ARE DOING:
The video tip I posted this week is about balance and proprioception. It’s the body’s ability to be aware in space. This is especially important in the golf swing as most of our motion takes place out of our vision and we are relying on this sensor. Most students have no clue where the club is in their swing and have an even harder time coming to that realization. When I have a student on the lesson tee, I always say “Rule #1 in golf lessons… if it feels wrong, it’s probably right.” This isn’t a joke, if you are trying to change your golf game, new positions are going to feel weird and unnatural because, well, they are unnatural to you.
BELIEVING THAT A NEW SWING WILL MAGICALLY PRODUCE BETTER RESULTS:
This is a big one. Students constantly judge their progress on the results of one particular shot. If we buy into the idea that anew motion should feel weird, it should also produce results which aren’t always desirable. One thing that I try to relay in my lessons is to focus on the process. Have a checklist after every shot which is where you grade your swing, not on the results its self. If I have a student who continually judges their progress on the result of the shot, I ask “did you ever hit a good shot with your old swing?” The inevitable answer is always yes, to which I respond “then how do you know you didn’t just get lucky?”
Back to why I like teaching kids… they don’t care about not hitting a good shot. They just reload and hit the next one. Remember when you were in grade school? You never would have taken a test after the first day of learning a new subject. You would practice and do repetition drills. Same thing applies to changing your swing. When you practice or play and are trying to make changes, judge yourself on your ability to complete the process, not the result of the shot.
THINKING THAT CHANGING A HABIT IS EASY :
If you have played golf for a fair amount of time (more than two or three years) your golf swing is just like any other habit. In 2008,I began using chewing tobacco. What starting as a quick dip, soon happened at work,on the course, on the drive home…all the time. I was going through one can per day and was fully addicted. My wife being a nurse didn’t like this habit. She threw all the facts at me, gave me programs to quit and even threatened to leave me. My response every time was that “I could quit whenever I wanted.” I tried a few different methods, some would last a week, others longer, but eventually once I would think I had beaten my addiction, the “habits” would reel me back.
The golf swing, although far less life threatening, works the same way. When we are trying to make a change, we must give it time, lots of time. I love my summer & winter students, especially the new ones because they think they are signing up for a ton of lessons, all covering different parts of their swing. Their reality, we may work on one move for weeks, even months straight to make it “habit.” They become frustrated working on the same thing over and over, until they come back the next year and they don’t have to worry about that old swing flaw anymore. Give yourself time and don’t think that just thinking about something for a week or so, you will eliminate habits.
(For what it’s worth, I’ve been clean of chewing tobacco since last July, when my son Luke was born.)
Check out this video about riding a bike, it’s a little bit long, but I really enjoy how it shows the process of changing a habit in adults and if you want help changing your bad habits, come see me and let’s put together a plan.