Technique First, Feel Second

Sometimes the world needs to work in reverse. That’s the way I see you getting better at hitting a golf ball. You need to change your mind about your approach to how you are going about it. Most people, start playing golf to learn it. They run to the golf course with their father’s old golf clubs and start making swings at the ball. Occasionally they hit it and think that since the ball got in the air, that it was correct. I bet you are thinking “that’s me, that’s how I started playing”. You are not alone. This is most people. But I want to tell you how backward this really is. This would be like learning to swim by jumping into the deep end of the pool or learning how to drive by starting on the freeway. The truth is that, similar to riding a bike, you need training wheels to learn golf. Why? Because you need to learn the technique so you can build feelings around it as opposed to feeling your way into an improper technique like so many golfers do.

The key, as Dan Coyle puts it in his recent book “The Little Book of Talent”, you must work like a Carpenter when you are learning skills. I have found this to be the shortcut to learning. Measure and adjust before you start cutting. This means that you must know how to grip the club, address the ball and know the motion before you start trying to hit balls. Your body and brain will figure out the feelings from there. The key to working like a Carpenter is that you measure and get feedback on your technique so that you are always on track. The feelings will develop from there. It’s really not about hitting the ball well, it’s about learning the feelings well. Once you learn the feelings, the results will follow. This takes patience.

You may think that you are impatient however, I have found few people as impatient as myself. But my saving grace when I learned from Moe was that my goal was not striking golf balls. My goal was to Swing Like Moe. There is a big difference. Hitting the ball well was a bi-product of the swing. I knew that going into the deal. And I want you to know that if you think you hit it good now, you can be better. I have learned that from years of teaching. The ones who are happy with their ball striking ability are the ones that need to try harder and get better. You should never be satisfied. Being satisfied makes you lazy and complacent. I want students to be driven to be mastering the Single Plane Swing, not just becoming adequate golfers. This is quite demanding I know, but I see potential in students. I am never satisfied.

So keep this in mind as you go into the next few months. Are you going to accept a mediocre golf swing or are you going to start taking technique more seriously. If you decide to start working on technique, you will soon realize that you can make some great changes in a short period of time – once you forget about ball-flight and start acting like a carpenter and focusing on how you are doing it -and develop feelings from there.

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