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Should we ditch the 'swing of a thousand positions'?

post #1 of 50
Thread Starter 

I've just completed a thorough review of the science underlying the golf swing (I'm a sports scientist). The main conclusion is that we'd improve faster by paying less (far less...) attention to technique. Focusing on complex technique (any technique...) stifles our innate skill-learning mechanisms - which thrive on simplicity.

 

This is great news - our fastest route to improvement isn't some complex theory - it's the ability to focus on just a handful of extremely simple swing thoughts.

 

So the 'swing of a thousand positions' is a major barrier to improvement - it's great fun to discuss and debate, but it's of little practical use to swing improvement.

 

Happy to expand on this in any way...

 

Thoughts....?

post #2 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisGSZ View Post

I've just completed a thorough review of the science underlying the golf swing (I'm a sports scientist). The main conclusion is that we'd improve faster by paying less (far less...) attention to technique. Focusing on complex technique (any technique...) stifles our innate skill-learning mechanisms - which thrive on simplicity.

 

This is great news - our fastest route to improvement isn't some complex theory - it's the ability to focus on just a handful of extremely simple swing thoughts.

 

So the 'swing of a thousand positions' is a major barrier to improvement - it's great fun to discuss and debate, but it's of little practical use to swing improvement.

 

Happy to expand on this in any way...

 

Thoughts....?

 

What are all the 1000 positions? I saw a book that references this by Chris Riddoch, is this the reference?

post #3 of 50

Makes sense to me. Isn't that why we get better once the feel of "proper" makes sense to us? Everyone learns differently, but I feel like I learn the fastest and most efficiently when I can engrain a feel quickly. I think that's why drills are better than positions. Once you do the mirror work to understand what the ideal position feels like, it seems more effective to find the feel, not just pose.

 

What I mean is...it seems that the best students are able to convert a thought to a feel really quickly. Hank Haney stated in his book that Tiger Woods could implement a feel very quickly by fine tuning the feeling of the extremes. I hear he was a pretty good golfer.

post #4 of 50
Thread Starter 

1000 is rhetorical - read 'too many...'. But most coaching books would have close to this number of technical details. The essential point is we can only hold 2-3 thoughts in our brains at any one time, so any number higher than than is a problem. And yes - this is Chris and the reference is correct. I'm hoping to be able to expand on the review and offer additional insights on this excellent forum.

post #5 of 50
Thread Starter 

Ajlepisto, you've hit the nail on the head.... The human body has excellent systems for learning skills (i.e. hitting an object with a stick), but not for learning positions within that skill. They take care of themselves as the skill improves. So yes, 'feels' are crucial in improving any complex skill like the golf swing. Ironically, a few generations ago everyone learned through 'feel' - and now the power of modern science is discovering it's actually the best way! The complexities of technique are of course valuable - we just need to translate them into much simpler concepts before we use them for swing development.

.

post #6 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisGSZ View Post

Ajlepisto, you've hit the nail on the head.... The human body has excellent systems for learning skills (i.e. hitting an object with a stick), but not for learning positions within that skill. They take care of themselves as the skill improves. So yes, 'feels' are crucial in improving any complex skill like the golf swing. Ironically, a few generations ago everyone learned through 'feel' - and now the power of modern science is discovering it's actually the best way! The complexities of technique are of course valuable - we just need to translate them into much simpler concepts before we use them for swing development.

.

 

I'd completely agree. I've always thought the real reason that children learn better is not because their brains are more efficient, but rather that they aren't as concerned with things like form and appeal and simply focus on the task. I've never seen a kid worry about what they looked like, yet as adults, we analyze and try to find the correct poses. It's amazing how much better one gets when we just trust our brain and body to make the adjustments for us. 

 

My wife is a great example. The longer she takes to swing, the worse the shot will be. I've played best, especially putting and chipping, with this idea. Just take your time approaching the ball, but once there, don't think. Simply let your brain do the calculations and adjustments for speed, line, etc. I've been way more accurate letting it happen automatically.

post #7 of 50
How do we unlearn all the thoughts and thinking we've learned over the years when trying to correct a fault?
For example: starting from scratch we slice, knowing either the path or face is wrong... By default our mind is trained to use the swing of a thousand positions in trying to correct our fault. How do we blindly trust our body to correct our slice without knowledge, self awareness, and repetition?...
post #8 of 50

I think keeping simple swing thoughts is what good instructors actually do.  So people may need to fix 1000 things in their swing, but never at once.  The good instructor will keep you "priority" pieces and keep things as simple as possible while providing you with the information that is required.  So I agree with you and disagree with you at the same time.  There is LOTS to work on, but never all at once.

post #9 of 50
Feel is key.
However science dont know how to train feel based approach effectively.

It take 3 months or less to do a swing overhaul.
Not 2 years ala Woods etc..

I got the numbers for it.
post #10 of 50

I have to disagree to a point. For me I need to learn or relearn many of the positions.  Now after I learn these positions by slow repetitions I then need to just let go of it and let the feel put me in these positions. 

post #11 of 50

Micromanaging the body is the key to disaster. I have one or two swing keys I keep tabs on, then let the body do the rest. One of the hardest things in golf is telling the mind to shut up and let things happen.

I was talking to my son about putting, which I've always struggled with. He said someone told him to look at the hole instead of the ball when putting, (a technique I had never heard of before, but may be quite familiar to you guys). It initially struck me as kind of goofy, but the more I thought about it, the more it kind of made sense. I tried it and it worked great! My body just needed to see  where the hole was and how far the ball needed to go in order to be more accurate. I don't need to keep my eyes on the ball in order to hit it, so why not put them to better use.

The body works best with minimal input from the mind.
 

post #12 of 50
You should talk to this guy--see how he's doing

http://thesandtrap.com/t/53295/my-swing-hogan-project/234
post #13 of 50

I guess everybody learns a little differently.  I first took lessons with a guy who taught mostly feel and then some with a guy who taught more positions.  What it sort of evolved into, for me, is using feel to achieve positions . .and using positions (like with video) to validate the feeling.  My current routine with my golf pro is that he tells me what I need to work on, shows me the correct positions and gives me some drills to work on . . and I search for the feeling that gets me into those positions - using video to check. 
 

post #14 of 50
Thread Starter 

Some excellent comments! I can't respond to all individually, but here are some further comments.

HANALEI asks how to unlearn. There's no need to - it's just a simpler way of achieving the same thing. It's using our strengths rather than stifling them. STRIKEONE has got it right - telling the mind to 'shut up' would improve all our swings. We know from over a century of research that every movement made by the body is controlled and determined by the brain - what we think about determines the quality of EVERY swing we make. A golf swing takes 1.2 seconds to perform - and the downswing, where the important stuff takes place, just 0.2s. Time for maybe just one or two thoughts? Three at most? It's best not to waste it/them on a small technical detail!

The essential pont is that we learn best unconsciously - not consciously thinking our way through technical positions. No other sport coaches via positions - yet in golf we've become addicted to it.

In answer to SOON-TOURPRO, science DOES know how to train 'feel' - it has a fancy scientific name, but essentially its system we used when we learned to walk, ride bikes and tie shoelaces - we weren't coached through positions - we just 'did it' - unconsciously.

I really like AMAZINGWHACKERS comment of using video to validate what a feel - this is exactly how the body learns best!

To HOGANWOODS - actually the golf swing consists of just four key movement skills - which is a much more manageable proposition than 40 or 400.... It almost fits with the 2-3 thoughts we can hold during a swing. Maybe this is the best way forward - to focus on those four major movements?

post #15 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by uttexas View Post

You should talk to this guy--see how he's doing
http://thesandtrap.com/t/53295/my-swing-hogan-project/234

great point.  Obviously trying to duplicate every position isn't working to well for him

post #16 of 50
Patrick aren't you bored with this yet?
post #17 of 50

Makes sense to me. Would bring in a lot of new golfers too. I think the complexity we give it can put people off.

post #18 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisGSZ View Post

I've just completed a thorough review of the science underlying the golf swing (I'm a sports scientist). The main conclusion is that we'd improve faster by paying less (far less...) attention to technique. Focusing on complex technique (any technique...) stifles our innate skill-learning mechanisms - which thrive on simplicity.

 

This is great news - our fastest route to improvement isn't some complex theory - it's the ability to focus on just a handful of extremely simple swing thoughts.

 

So the 'swing of a thousand positions' is a major barrier to improvement - it's great fun to discuss and debate, but it's of little practical use to swing improvement.

 

Happy to expand on this in any way...

 

Thoughts....?

 

Chris,

 

Go to YouTube and search for "Shawn Clement golf."  You and he will be exactly on the same page.  In fact, you'll find dozens of hours of videos of him talking about exactly these things.

 

Shawn is all about using rhythm, gravity and momentum combined with an understanding of how human anatomy and the golf swing fit together.

 

I firmly believe Shawn has discovered the right way to teach the golf swing.  Well, perhaps not "discovered" as many of the concepts are not new, but he is delivering it more clearly than ever before.  The laws of physics don't change.  If you swing to get maximum benefit from those laws, you will create a highly repeatable swing.  Will you always be perfect?  Of course not - we're human beings after all.  However, if you swing in such a way that you're fighting gravity or anatomy, or trying to actively manipulate the club, you may have temporary success, but eventually you're going to lose the battle.

 

Now, does that mean that one cannot learn to be a good golfer from one who teaches traditional "club manipulation?"  No, it doesn't.  After all, probably every pro on the PGA tour was taught in this style. For some people (like them), it "clicks" early.  They think, "Oh....that's what I'm supposed to be feeling.  That's what it feels like when gravity and centrifugal force act upon my swing."  Others take decades before they finally start to get it.  Still others, like myself, never did get that feeling and likely never would have, had we not discovered the teachings of Shawn Clement.

 

So preach on brother!  I'm front row in the choir.

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