One of the keys to becoming a proficient golfer is the ability to master the process of learning. We assume people know how to learn and/or what the best ways are to learn, but what researchers in neuroscience are finding out quickly is that people are poor judges of when learning is effective or not. There are many facets to learning however here are three concepts that will help build the mindset for mastery. First, learning requires memory. We must have the ability to store information to draw upon later. Second, we need to have an open mind or curiosity for continuing to learn and remembering throughout our lives. Third, understanding learning is an acquired skill, developing effective strategies can often be counter intuitive.
Learning how to master skills; if it is not hard and if there are limited mistakes more times than not your learning will be short lived, if at all. Learning takes effort, it takes time! If you are speeding through to say you finished first or you “got it” it is likely you don’t got it! In golf for example, acquiring great mechanics will require enduring some pain, going slow, developing awareness in movements, learning how not to think but rather feel, and developing a keen awareness of the movements of the body, thus creating memories and images of the pieces to create the whole picture. These “memorized” images combined with movements allow continued learning and memorization; creating a compounding effect of learning. Even though this is the best way to learn it is not the preferred methodology by most golf professionals “teaching” the game. Not blaming the “teachers,” but rather the students in their inability to understand the best way to learn. It is far too easy to give instruction on how to hit a golf ball and then just say repeat the process after hitting a good shot. Then when a bad shot occurs it is easy to say, do this or that, you came over the top, clubface was shut, you stayed back, or the best one – you didn’t keep your head down! This kind of teaching is not only bad for the golfer but bad for the instructor, as he/she may have the knowledge to be a great coach but are not creating a good learning environment for the pupil, which in turn allows failure and frustration to continue. A good learning environment will consist of time to reflect on your actions, this can be called retrieval practice, the ability to make swings and reflect on the movements will help build memory thus creating a more powerful learning environment than just hitting balls and judging based on the success of the shot outcome.
Why you want to learn the game of golf may be the best question you can ask yourself when you want to play or improve your skills. Having the knowledge as to why you want to improve your game or pick up the game will help lead the developmental process for a coach. If you are questioning your “why,” give me a call or talk with one of our coaches, we can help you build an effective strategy for learning and developing the golf of your dreams.
To be continued…
Enjoy Your Journey!