Becoming a Great Self Teacher – Tips for Improving (Part #10)

This is the 10th part of a series of practice tips titled “Tips for Improving”.

If you have missed any of the first 9 parts, you can go to our blog at:

In those practice tips we discussed how we work with our students to create new habits rather than breaking old habits. It is essentially impossible to break bad habits (our mind/body is not set up that way) … but we are set up to be able to create new habits and ultimately make changes/create new movements, etc.  we want.

We talked about a book we strongly recommend – The Little Book of Talent / 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills by Daniel Coyle.

It is described as a manual for building a faster brain and a better you. It is an easy-to-use hand book of scientifically proven, field tested methods to improve your skills – your skills, your kids’ skills, your organization’s skills – in sports, music, art, math and business. The product of five years of reporting from the world’s greatest talent hotbeds and interviews with successful master coaches, it distills the daunting complexity of skill development into 52 clear, concise directives.

Whether you are 10 or 100, this is an essential guide for anyone who ever asked, “How do I get better?


This book is available at

The last instructional newsletters (Tips for Improvement Part 1 through 7) we discussed 31 tips for improvement from staring a who you want to become, to being willing to be stupid, to finding the sweet spot, to practicing by yourself, to taking a nap….  Again, if you have not reviewed these past practice tips, would recommend.

This instructional newsletter (Part 10) we cover the next tip for improving your skills and relate them to you learning/working on your single plane swing and golf game.

42.  Six Ways to be a Better “Self” Teacher or Coach

You are probably thinking – this doesn’t relate to me. but that couldn’t be further from the truth. One of the first things we tell our students at our schools is that to become a good golfer, one must become a good student and becoming a good student involves the relationship of becoming a great self-teacher.

Let me explain – for most golfers – a majority of their practice is done on their own/or bye themselves. In other words, they don’t have a teacher/coach watching them hit balls making adjustments, recommendations, changes, etc. And if they are practicing with others, chances are those others know little about what they are working on and cannot help them. That is the nature of golf… good or bad, it is a “self” sport – one that is typically worked on by yourself – you improve as fast or as slow as you want….  you are the one responsible – a “self” sport.

So, to become a good player – you must be a good self-teacher or self-coach. You need to be able to take the information/instruction you are given/taught and be able to self-teach yourself when you are practicing.

Here are six ways that will help you be a better teacher or coach:

1.   Use the first few moments of every lesson/practice session to connect on an emotional level. Ask yourself why you want to make the changes – why they are important to you, what you are looking for in the outcome… So when the changes become a little difficult – you will keep going…

2.  Do no give yourself “long speeches” – but rather deliver vivid chunks of information. I love this one – don’t overwhelm yourself with information – but rather be to the point, be specific, be very specific – focus on one thing at a time. You can and will create new habits if you break what you are working down into chunks – small chunks, specific chunks. Example – if you are learning from a video, it is okay to go through the entire video once, but don’t expect to learn anything that way. Go through the video a “chunk” at a time. In fact, most of our instruction videos we break down into chapters to help you create the “chunks” you are working on. I would even suggest to work on small parts of each chapter at a time.

3.  Be “allergic” to mushy language When you are studying/learning new positions – work on very specific points.  Example – if you think you need to move your hands higher at set up – don’t say to yourself, “Move your hand higher” – but rather say – “Move your hands so the butt end of the club points to the pivot point”, etc.  Be specific so when you practice there are no questions…. “mushy” language allows too much room for error or misinterpretation.

4.  Make a scorecard of learning Pick a metric that measures your skill you want to develop, and start keeping track of it. Use the measure to motivate and orient yourself. There are many ways to do this in golf. Examples – Short game – count the number of 3 putts, count the total number of putts, percentage of up and downs, etc. In the long game, how many fairways you hit, how many greens you hit in regulation (in 2 shots on a par 4, 3 shots on a par 5, etc..), how many drives you hit under/over a certain distance in a round, etc. There are many ways to keep a scorecard of learning while you play and others while you practice.

5.  Maximize “Reachfullness” – Reachfullness is the essence of learning. It happens when you are learning forward, stretching, struggling, and improving. The point of this rule is a good self-teacher finds ways to design environments that tip yourself away from passivity and toward reachfull action. This is why good self-teachers will avoid ideal time… but rather when they practice will have a very structured format they follow during practice. From warming up, to specific drills, to check points, to working on different areas of the game during a practice session – they avoid “idle” time in their practice sessions. Think to yourself – what kind of environment can I put myself that will create the most “reachful” environment? How can I replace moments of passivity with moments of active learning in my practice sessions?

6.  Aim to make yourself an independent learner Always remember, the outcome of any practice session (with a coach or learning from a video, webinar, etc..) is to make yourself an independent learner. Creating an environment when you can teach yourself, when you check what you are doing yourself, that you can self-correct at any time, etc… etc. Once you can do this, you will be able to quickly realize when things aren’t going correct and make the needed adjustments, etc. This is what good players do during a round of golf that prevent the “wheels from falling off”.

Please watch upcoming newsletter practice tips for continuation of the tips for improving your skills/creating new habits and improving your golf game.

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