REPLACING OLD HABITS WITH NEW
Kevin Smith gives tips on what to do when you are learning something new from your golf coach.
One thing that I learnt very
early on as a coach was that I need to be part technician, part psychologist and part sales person. I need to sell to the golfer standing in front of me why they need to make the recommended changes even when feeling very foreign and or uncomfortable.
So what I would like to encourage every golfer taking instruction to know, is that it is very important to fully understand the changes and the 'why' recommended to you by your PGA Professional, especially when replacing old poor habits with new improved habits. Accept that these changes will feel different. But that's what's required to help you move ahead with your golf and help you achieve your golfing goals.
Remember Einstein's definition of insanity: "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result"
It's also important to remember that when installing these new habits the golfer needs to develop a clear image of what these changes look like as well as what they feel like to you, so that you have your own personal references.
Using a mirror or video can help you develop these changes. Here are some examples of changes the golfer may need to 'download'.
↑ 01-02: CHANGING YOUR GRIP
This can be a golfers worst nightmare! However as the hands are our only link between us and the golf club, it's essential that we hold the club in such a manner that when we swing the club naturally it returns back squarely to the ball without us having to create a bunch of modifications that may then lead to other issues or even injury.
When making this change I recommended leaving a club next to your favourite chair so that you can pick it up and check your hand position as often as is possible.
I also recommend the golfer gets use to it through their chipping first, then pitching, before making full swings with their new improved grip. I'm sure by doing this that in no time at all your new position will start to feel a lot more comfortable and provide a lot more success on the golf course.
← 03: ALIGNMENT
Another common change recommended by golf coaches is for our clients to become a lot more aware of aligning their bodies parallel to their target line. I'm sure if you were to go and watch the top amatuers or visit a professional event and see them warming up on the range. That most will have an alignment aid down on the ground similar to what I'm demonstrating. Having this aid there then enables them to start to know what the correct alignment both looks and feels like, making it a lot easier to get this right when out on the course.
Second to this, discuss with your PGA Professional a routine that will help you out on the course where you are obviously unable to put an alignment aid down.
↑ 04-05: OVERSWINGING
One final common change I have needed to recommend to clients is to shorten their backswings. Often we are encouraged to swing the club back to parallel or horizontal (3 O'clock), however, due to inertia and momentum the club often travels a lot further back than what we may think. And I'm sure you have heard the saying of "feel isn't real" meaning that what we may feel and think we are doing might not match up with what we are actually doing. So given this change you may need to feel that your backswing is only a 1/2 or 3/4 in length to have it stop where your coach recommends it to be?