When approached by a new client, it is important to me to fully understand his/her goals. Everyone’s goals are unique to them. I once had a client that just wanted to find a way to swing that helped minimize pain from a long-standing injury. Creating a realistic plan of improvement is where coaching vs instructing comes into play. If you instruct someone, you simply tell them how something should be done. To coach someone is to lead the improvement process taking into account all aspects of playing and creating a hierarchy of priority to facilitate the process. It’s about guiding the client through the improvement process vs turning them lose when the lesson time is complete. The coach must have a stake in the process. Given equal efforts, failure of the client is the same as failure of the coach. In golf, 9 times out of 10, players want to improve their scores and simply working on swing mechanics rarely delivers lower scores. There is no sense of accomplishment in coaching by improving swing mechanics while the client’s scores stay flat.
Every person has his/her own distinctive talents and constraints. Maximizing potential for results requires approaching each individual client uniquely and taking into account what he/she can potentially accomplish. Developing skill-set is based upon properly identifying cause and effect opposed to focusing on a given “position” in the swing. Positional teaching can often diagnose an effect but won’t permanently fix the fault/cause. While not being a proponent of any single methodology, I choose to find what an individual is capable of and help them reach their own true potential through whatever means necessary.
Our bodies are constantly seeking balance and when we make any movement there is a compensatory movement to off-set the 1st. In my opinion, injury is caused by improper deceleration patterns. For example: Imagine a boat quickly pulling an inner-tube. If the boat suddenly stops, the tube goes flying past and then jerks the boat. If done enough times, the rope, tube or boat will break. Now imagine your body is the boat and the clubhead is the tube. The clubhead is traveling at a high rate of speed and has to be decelerated, so some part of the body will need to absorb that force. If the swing sequence is not correct, a large force is going to put strain on some part of the body. The foot/ground interaction is necessary to not only increase force throughout the swing sequence but decrease it as well. I stress to all player types that the lower body is the foundation of the swing supporting the torso which is the structure. If the foundation does not perform correctly, the structure will suffer dramatically. If you decrease the potential to create force from the ground through the body due to poor lower body balance and support, club speed, club path and centeredness of strike will all be compromised. The results are often inconsistent ball contact/flight.
I stress to all player types that the lower body is the foundation of the swing supporting the torso which is the structure. If the foundation does not perform correctly, the structure will suffer dramatically.
The goal of golf is to have the least amount of strokes possible to hole the ball out for a stipulated round. To say poor scoring is always due to mechanics is an improper assumption. Understanding how to cope with ever-changing emotions and playing conditions is as big of a challenge as the motion to make a strike. Golf is not a game of flat, perfect lies. Understanding how to create the proper mechanic for a given lie/shot is imperative. Often, what one would consider poor mechanics, is mandatory to create a unique shot-shape. Additionally, creating intent is vital while having an awareness of ourselves and our surroundings. Watching Tiger stop mid downswing after a camera click is a great example of this. I promise you that at no point in his routine is Tiger thinking of preparing for a camera click. His intent is 320 yards down the fairway. His mental picture is how the ball will fly to reach that target 320 yards down the fairway. But his awareness of his surroundings is acute. So acute that he can stop his downswing to reset his intent and picture when it becomes interrupted. Another example of this is a hockey player skating quickly down rink to shoot a goal. In a split second he is seeing a small gap between the goalie and the net where he wants to place the puck. All the while, he is acutely aware of the two 220lb defenders coming from behind him to pummel him into the ice. How does the shooter do this? How can his body ready itself to ward off potential injury from an extremely forceful hit while still firing the puck into the goal? I don’t hold the answers to the brains mysteries but by using proper language with ourselves and with help from tools like FocusBand, I can help effectively coach to stay present, create intent and put one’s self in their best state to play golf.
Learning to create intent is vital while having an awareness of ourselves and our surroundings.
How you practice is as important as what you practice. The range is full of players that practice for hours with a small result to effort ratio. When working on a skill-set, block practice is necessary. It is a period of heavily focused practice on a specific movement, feel or drill. It can be at home, in the gym, or at the range, with an emphasis on a movement and not ball flight. When assigning block practice I prefer to have it broken by practice in other game aspects and then a return to complete random practice. Random practice is practice that simulates course play as much as possible. Random practice includes mastering your pre-shot routine, visualizing the flight and target, walking into the ball consistently, hitting the shot and feeling a post shot routine (how you leave a shot will prepare you for how you approach the next).