Saturday, June 2, 2012

How to Learn

I understand that some of the people reading this have no interest in golf at all, but the information here is just as relevant whether you are learning any other sport, skill or task. As a golf coach, I am constantly giving people information on ‘what’ to learn. But the more important thing to understand is ‘how’ to learn it. Without understanding this, you are likely to not learn it at all, or severely hamper your progress and slow it down. In this post, I am going to identify a few strategies that you can use in your own practice. Use these to speed up your learning, and incorporate the new idea into your swing as quickly as possible.

  1. Fully understand what you are trying to achieve. A good golf coach will help you do this – but if they ask you “Do you understand?”, you have to be honest. Make sure you ask as many questions about the information as possible.
  2. Sit with your eyes closed, visualise yourself doing whatever it is you are trying to do. Visualise it from all angles, and at differing speeds. Visualise from your first person perspective, and from the view of someone looking at you.
  3. Understand the stages of learning - and paradox of change. Be patient with your changes.
  4. Slow it down – holding the position you wish to achieve can help, moving into and through it, and then implementing that feeling into a slow motion swing. Gradually increase the speed of it as you progress.
  5. Take away the result - THIS IS VITAL. You can do this by;
    • Making a mental commitment to ignore the ball flight and focus on the thing YOU are trying to acheive, probably the most powerful thing you can do 
    • Using more practice swings in the initial stages and less golf balls 
    • Transition to hitting a tee, paper ball/whiffle ball    
    • Transition to hitting a ball on a tee    
    • Try closing your eyes as you are swinging and hitting the ball, so you get a better feeling for the swing and it's easier to let go of a bad result if it happens.
  6. Put 100% concentration - all your mental processing power - into the one thing you are trying to learn. If you are trying to learn 2 things at the same time, try and split your practice session into 33% one thing, 33% the other thing and 33% trying to find a common feeling that unites the two, but generally less thinking.
  7. Variance – something a lot of people are frightened to do is to experiment with the opposite extreme. Obviously this is a bad idea during a round of golf, but in the initial stages of learning, I would experiment with doing something ‘too much’ and ‘too little’, so it is much easier to find that middle ground.

The above tips can be utilised when learning almost anything, especially a physical skill. Whilst they are not always necessary, see if you can apply them to the thing you are learning right now. The message here is to maximise your concentration on the thing you are trying to achieve, minimise concentration on anything extraneous and experiment with extremes of speeds and amounts.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Adam, just stumbled across your blog on facebook....some good stuff. I too am running a golf blog
    documenting my journey in golf to play to the best level I can. Blogging is a tough game (I've found)just getting enough interest/followers but I'm enjoying documenting my progress and love for the game. It would be great to here some feedback from yourself or just for you to check out my blog and drop me a comment, thanks, Lee.


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