What is your teaching philosophy? What do you consider a successful golf lesson? How do you know if the student gets it? These are all questions that should keep coaches up at night, I know it does me at times. How do we improve our teaching process in order to help the student learn more efficiently. One of my mentors, Martin Hall, told me once,”If the student gets better, good teacher, if they get worse, bad teacher,”. I believe this is true as there are many ways to reach a goal.  I am sure if we put all the top coaches in a room together and gave them the same student, we would surely get a myriad of answers, fixes and directions in which we would take them. We all have our opinions that we stand behind (methods/non-methods) but how do we really know. On my continued quest to become the best coach that I can be,  I am going to do a series of posts that hopefully will be thought-provoking and cause you to consider your philosophy (RIGHT OR WRONG) and how to improve it. The key to learning is to have an open mind and be ready for new information. So here we go! In the age of technology with (trackman, k-vest, video analysis and 3 d simulators) and updated information about ball flight laws (the d-plane, cp release vs. cf release, angular momentum and hsp vs. vsp, stack and tilt, morad, one plane, two plane etc ) and new equipment and training aids, we have more information as coaches that can help the student through the learning process than ever before. The ability to apply the information that you have learned or memorized is the key. Because without positive results, what good is the information. It just makes us feel smart or educated. The key is not to leave out the most important factor, “The Student”. I teaching has always been built around a student centered approach, whatever you teach this is the most important.  I am reading an interesting book written by Michael Hebron, whom I greatly admire, called “Play Golf To Learn Golf”. There is so much information that he has researched that it would be impossible to share all of it so I want to give you a few nuggets that will describe his philosophy on what he calls “Playful Learning.”

Whatever I know, or what I am given credit for knowing is not very much when compared to what could be known (I am going to put this on my bulletin board for sure). To keep investigating, looking for “the yet uncovered,” to help people grasp unfamiliar concepts so they can make progress, is my philosophy.

Mr. Hebron states:

  • Whenever you try to help a golf swing you can win or lose-but when you help a golfer you always win. Help golfers become less dependent on their coach.
  • The student and their needs are always more important than what the instructor wants. The aim of effective instruction is to be a practical guide. (sound familiar)
  • Any approach to instruction must take the “nurture of learning” into consideration, if it is going to be effective.
  • Mankind is born playful, and when we play  to learn, we don’t learn to play (hmmmm.?)
  • Workable instruction does not try to change poor habits, it changes poor insights, and develops patterns or access to knowledge
  • Many golfers see their poor habits as “riddles” that can’t be solved and often look to someone else for answers that only they themselves can answer and solve. Progress in golf is founded on the problem on the problem solving skills of the student (see options)
  • Teaching is really the art of assisting discovery
  • A “breakthrough” in learning is a breakout, or breakaway from a past point of view, opening new learning paths.
  • Most golf advice and swing models are based on someone’s description of body parts in motion, overlooking the alignment and application of force with the club through impact. The ball flight laws should be exchanged for the golf club laws.

Are the wheels turning yet, let’s see if this helps. Here are some random thoughts on “Playful Learning”

  • Trying to teach is different form helping someone to learn
  • Learning is influenced by change and unfortunately many individuals believe making changes requires trying to “get something right”, or trying to fix something. Studies show that fixing has never been learning, and trying to “get it right” creates the kind of stress that fragments progress.  (my next topic of video pro models “helpful or not”)
  • Efficient approaches to learning ask students what they would like to improve.
  • Efficient approaches to learning improve a students capacity to learn.
  • Students want to learn. Judge them and students will not make the kind of progress they are capable of.
  • Pointing out mistakes is a poor motivator
  • One last one: “It is the student who often reveal the best way to help them experience the kind of learning that lasts.

The main thing that Mr. Hebron is trying to convey is:

Ask the right questions, Listen to the student and always keep the student involved in the learning process and we can all say that we gave it our best effort as coaches. Be careful of the language that we use, the pictures that we create and the expectations that we put on our students. I have plenty more to discuss but I will let you all digest this and talk amonst yourselves. Remember, they don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Keep caring and we will all figure this thing out together.

Feel free to leave a comment below and use the share buttons appropriately if you think this is helpful

**Follow Me on Twitter

See you on the lesson tee,



  1. Great post with lots to think about. I take away from this post a question; Can you look like you are playing and still be learning? Answer Yes. Students all learn differently and I agree that if you stay student focused, you will be able to help them to educate their own swings and be able to ultimatly be a better player.

    Jay Reid


    • thank you Jay and Rob,
      I think there has to be a blend of technical and self discovery for sure. The genius is in figuring out when to apply each in order to get results. Check back for more in the next few days, I have some more questions.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: