Golfers….Stop Majoring In the Minors!! Keys To Being A Better Student
I haven’t posted anything new in a while and received an excellent topic from one of my twitter friends, Blaze Grinn (click to follow him on twitter), which is “How to keep your students on task?” I know I post a lot about how we can get better as coaches and teachers but this is about the students and ” How To Be A Better Student.” If you are out there trying to get better at this crazy game, how do you do it? This is an important question that you need to ask as we get ready to start a new year and golfing season. We all set goals and expectations but I can tell you that you must assemble a quality team to have any chance to achieve them. The first person you need to hire is your golf teacher. One that you trust, has the knowledge and expertise to answer your questions but more importantly is willing to be a part of your plan to achieve your goals. So here are some important ideas that have to be considered before you take a lesson.
1. Expectations Must Match Commitment – One of the first questions that I ask every student after establishing a specific goal is “How much time do you have to practice and play?” For example: If you are a 16 handicap and want to be an 8 handicap by years end and you are able to practice once a week and play once on the weekend then you are not being realistic. It’s like myself starting to work for your sales force and wanting to break all of your records but only wanting to work the standard 40 hours a week. It isn’t going to work, so be realistic and share BE HONEST with your coach so you can set goals that you can achieve.
2. Trust Your Coach No Matter What – Your coach has your best interest at heart and I would encourage him to lay out the plan for your improvement and be specific. If might look like, (takeaway, pivot, path) = push draw that doesn’t cross target line (goal). Or it may be a short game or putting specific plan. Whatever it is, you must stick to the plan. If it is not on the list, don’t waste time worrying about it because YOU think it is the right thing. (you are not the expert)
3. Looks can be dangerous – One of the things that I have learned from teaching with Trackman is that impact alignments are always more important than the look of a swing. I understand that there are position changes that often need to be made in order to change ball flight but it is about a repeatable impact condition that is important. It is up to the coach to discern whether you can achieve the goal with your individual move and if it is worth changing. Don’t change for a picture but rather a result that will hep you play better. Most of the time students fall into the trap of trying to look like someone they saw on TV or in a magazine or better yet one of their playing partners. Clarification by the coach is important is this respect and is necessary to make sure you are working on what is important instead of what is perceived to LOOK good. Example: If some coach would have tried to change Jim Furyks’ position at the top, we may have never heard of him. It is a good thing that his father figured out that he was repeating where it is important and didn’t change it.
4. Stay Focused On The Majors – When taking a lesson it is important to not try to get ahead of the teacher of out think the process. Stay focused on the couple of things that the instructor has you working on and that’s it. Typically lessons fail because the student has a hard time letting go of what they thought they should be working on instead of focusing on what the teacher is trying to get you to focus on. STAY ON TASK! This is why video can be dangerous for some students because they try to pick apart what they had in their mind as the perfect swing. Your coach must guide you to look at ONLY what is important (Major). If they don’t mention it, let it go!
Give Constant Feedback
As much as your instructor is trained in reading your body language, your verbal feedback is crucial to the success of the team. (you and your instructor). It starts with sharing your injuries, past surgeries and aches and pains. I love it when I ask this question at the beginning of the lesson and I get nothing, only to find that the student had surgery on their left knee. No wonder they were having trouble getting their weight forward at impact. Even though you think it is not affecting your motion, let your coach decide as he evaluates your move. Most of the time it matters and you don’t realize it.
5. Share Feels and Observations – There is nothing worse than a quiet student in a golf lesson. Whether the shot is good or bad, giving constant feedback on how you liked the shot or what it felt like is valuable information for the coach. Otherwise we are only assuming and trying to read body language. The words that you use to describe each shot and how it felt gives your coach a clear indication on your learning style and what drills, type of language or external cues to use for your progression.
6. Keep a Golf Journal – With all the technology that we have to help us play and learn better, I still see value in the “old school” act of journaling. I encourage my students to get a notebook and write down everything from: What they took from each lesson (confirm with your coach), what drills they did in practice and how did they feel, to what didn’t work in their practice session. Failures can teach us some very important lessons that will help us improve. I believe that writing can help organize your mind and help you to stay on task which will help you……….wait for it…….
Major In The Majors!
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