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Patrick57

Is Judgemental Feedback advantageous?

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I have spent most of my life giving and receiving judgemental feedback and was of the opinion that this was the only way to live or learn. Since discovering Timothy Gallwey and Fred Shoemaker, my opinions have been turned upside down.

Everything we do in life, be that sport, education or work, is directed by someone who knows more than ourselves (the students). And that manager, coach or teacher uses his personal judgements to relay how he thinks we are progressing.

More often than not this director finds himself in a very powerful position, where he condemns, chastises and embarrasses his students. He freely uses words like: wrong, bad, slow, useless, time waster, idiot, science, physics etc.

My first experience of this judgemental direction started at school where many teachers would verbally bully pupils in this way.

As toddlers we went through the fastest learning phase of our lives. In less than five years we learned most of the fundamental motor skills and, on the whole, were not verbally bullied into learning them.

I have been practising non-judgemental direction for a few years now and have achieved much better results with my students.

A typical judgemental feedback session would sound like this,

"No, wrong. You bent your left elbow again on the back swing." That type of teacher would then ask the student to swing again and probably have him stop at the top and put him in the correct position. He would direct the student to swing to this position with feedback like "Better, almost there, to that's it, you've got it now."

That's basically how I learned to play golf but was never really comfortable trying to swing to the position that the trainer had put me in. Five minutes later I would be swinging somewhere in between and I would hear, "No, wrong!" once again and go through the same old correctional procedure. In a nutshell I was very reliant on his (expert) knowledge and feedback.

An non-judgemental directive would be to ask the student to swing again and after that swing the initial feedback must come from the student. The trainer acts as a mirror for his student and reports to him what he saw. This lesson sounds like this,

"Swing again but this time tell me when you feel your elbow starting to bend?" The student who must be the first to talk would report something like this, "I felt my elbow bending about here." The trainer would either agree or state that he noticed it happening a little earlier or later. The student would swing again and the trainer would again respond to the students feel and observations.

This student will quite quickly achieve the desired position using his own feeling and the coach has helped him get there without manipulating his body.

Which one of these lessons is going to be more effective?

In my opinion, the student who has been led into finding the straight left arm position with his own feeling will be able to repeat and age this and the manipulated student with always be checking in mirrors or asking someone to have a look, relying on someone else's feedback/direction.

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what if the student says he doesnt feel his elbow bend at all?  i think the teacher/coach needs to be viewed at as the authority.  you can question him, and feel confident that his answer is the correct one.  at some point, the coaching needs to be definitive, and not wishy washy.

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Originally Posted by colin007

what if the student says he doesnt feel his elbow bend at all?  i think the teacher/coach needs to be viewed at as the authority.  you can question him, and feel confident that his answer is the correct one.  at some point, the coaching needs to be definitive, and not wishy washy.



My left arm bends (which I am trying to correct) and i don't feel it. The problem with me is I don't know what I am doing wrong. I would prefer guidance of what I should be doing, give feedback for what I feel I am doing, and comminication between us both on how to improve between the guidance and what I feel.

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The best way to learn position is through exageration. Because you go to work againts the grain of what you been doing over and over again for a long time.

Example for me, i am a chronic overswinging, and overrotater in the backswing. I use to be able to see the club out of my left eye. I would rotate so mauch it would cause me to come over the top. Now for me, stopping short, i actually tought myself not to reach parallel, i get a full turn anyways. But it took alot of practice, with a mirror of just rotating to were i was comfortable. This was strange because i wasn't use to swinging that short. It took alot of time. My one golf pro was trying to teach me short pitch shots to start out the game. He had to hold a club out as a barrier, so if i went to far i woudl hit the club he was holding and just start over.

As for correcting the swing plane. I like visuals, video or a mirror. Its easier to grasp the concepts when you can see yourself making the swing. The pro i go to, we basically talk out what works for him, and what works for me, Its a hashing out of ideas. For him, he likes to concentrate on the left arm. For me, i really can't feel my left arm in the swing at all. So i concentrate more on my center of my body. I guess i like the 2nd option better then. Were you try to get the player to develop his own feel for the swing..

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I think everybody wants feedback in a different manner depending on how 'delicate' they are. I tend to be a little bit too brutal with things because I see no reason to *****-foot around so when I have a lesson I'd rather hear "Try driving the hips forward more; you're not getting enough side tilt at impact" than "Yes Dave that's good. Now try to do it a little more. A little more again. That's better. Now a little more. Looking good, keep it up" etc.

For me personally 'to the point' is better than 'polite' but I do understand that everyone's different. :)

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Originally Posted by saevel25

The best way to learn position is through exageration. Because you go to work againts the grain of what you been doing over and over again for a long time.


Agreed.  Also including an understanding of why, the bent left elbow example, why bending it isn't effective, how to to keep the swing radius wider and why it will make contact better.

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Originally Posted by colin007

what if the student says he doesnt feel his elbow bend at all?  i think the teacher/coach needs to be viewed at as the authority.  you can question him, and feel confident that his answer is the correct one.  at some point, the coaching needs to be definitive, and not wishy washy.


Unless someone has been injected with a local anaesthetic, they can usually feel their elbow bend unless their concentration is elsewhere. However I think you should stick to being controlled and stay with judgemental feedback.

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Originally Posted by Th3R00st3r

My left arm bends (which I am trying to correct) and i don't feel it. The problem with me is I don't know what I am doing wrong. I would prefer guidance of what I should be doing, give feedback for what I feel I am doing, and comminication between us both on how to improve between the guidance and what I feel.


You could try the non-judgemental exercise I described. You would need someone to act as your mirror and it doesn't need to be a coach. The mirror is only there to observe and without bias concur or disagree with your feeling. At the end of the exercise you will straighten out your arm which can only be a good thing.

I'm pretty sure you swing well and it is only through trying to get to the top textbook position that you bend your arm.

Warning: Don't work on anything else, your target is to create more extension in your back swing by not bending your left arm. I mirror students every day and they come back with many irrelevant conditions when I am only working on their left arm. This is the main reason they can't feel their arm bending. Take one correction at a time, concentrate on this, then you will feel when you arm starts to bend. As soon as you can feel it, you can fix it.

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Originally Posted by Patrick57

Unless someone has been injected with a local anaesthetic, they can usually feel their elbow bend unless their concentration is elsewhere. However I think you should stick to being controlled and stay with judgemental feedback.


Patrick, the pattern for your posts:

1) You post something in which you ask questions but really you've already made up your mind.

2) People post and disagree with you.

3) You either shift the goalposts by claiming that you never said something (changing the rules) or belittle people without responding to their valid feedback.

And no, lots of golfers don't feel their bodies doing certain things. In fact, you ask the vast majority where they stopped their last backswing and they'll invariably show you a position that's about 30% shorter than they actually stopped the club.

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Originally Posted by saevel25

Were you trying to get the player to develop his own feel for the swing..


That's what non-judgemental coaching is all about. Getting the golfer to feel his movement, and let him state first what he thinks he has felt. The mirror must not get judgemental, just report whether the players feedback was accurate. Simple as that.

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Originally Posted by MiniBlueDragon

I think everybody wants feedback in a different manner depending on how 'delicate' they are. I tend to be a little bit too brutal with things because I see no reason to *****-foot around so when I have a lesson I'd rather hear "Try driving the hips forward more; you're not getting enough side tilt at impact" than "Yes Dave that's good. Now try to do it a little more. A little more again. That's better. Now a little more. Looking good, keep it up" etc.

For me personally 'to the point' is better than 'polite' but I do understand that everyone's different. :)


Sounds like you prefer judgemental feedback. You do know that you hips don't understand the command drive yourselves forward, at least the way you mean, as there is some turning in the process. And the upper body lean at impact is hard to improve if you haven't got a good exercise to feel it.

You're the one who has to do it so its better if your feedback comes first.

Just my thoughts!

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Originally Posted by iacas

Patrick, the pattern for your posts:

1) You post something in which you ask questions but really you've already made up your mind.

2) People post and disagree with you.

3) You either shift the goalposts by claiming that you never said something (changing the rules) or belittle people without responding to their valid feedback.

And no, lots of golfers don't feel their bodies doing certain things. In fact, you ask the vast majority where they stopped their last backswing and they'll invariably show you a position that's about 30% shorter than they actually stopped the club.


That is also what you do with my posts.

You don't like my views, that's clear. I have my opinions and you have yours. I have refrained from reacting to the unfriendly replies since you put me in the Penalty Box but you are still not happy.

Do you want me to change my personality?

My headline introduces a subject. I make my point clearly in the post and answer all of the replies. If they are rude I will try not to be rude back.

Should I stop opening up discussions?

I am also not a expert debater, I can make remarks that others disagree with. Hve you ever watched the politicians in action?

Do you really feel I am spamming or trolling?

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Originally Posted by iacas

And no, lots of golfers don't feel their bodies doing certain things. In fact, you ask the vast majority where they stopped their last back swing and they'll invariably show you a position that's about 30% shorter than they actually stopped the club.

This is not the case with golfers who have been introduced to non-judgemental feedback.

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Originally Posted by saevel25

The best way to learn position is through exageration. Because you go to work againts the grain of what you been doing over and over again for a long time.

I use an exaggeration drill for the short game. Many of my students have problems with touch around the greens, putting, chipping and pitching. I tell them to take a practise swing that would definitely send the ball too far, then another for too short and then do something in between with the ball. This works very well. I use it too when I am having touch problems.

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Originally Posted by Patrick57

This is not the case with golfers who have been introduced to non-judgemental feedback.



What!?  A person getting a certain type of verbal feedback can feel things that others can't?  Geez, this just keeps getting beter...

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Originally Posted by Patrick57

That is also what you do with my posts.

You don't like my views, that's clear. I have my opinions and you have yours. I have refrained from reacting to the unfriendly replies since you put me in the Penalty Box but you are still not happy.

Do you want me to change my personality?

My headline introduces a subject. I make my point clearly in the post and answer all of the replies. If they are rude I will try not to be rude back.

Should I stop opening up discussions?

I am also not a expert debater, I can make remarks that others disagree with. Hve you ever watched the politicians in action?

Do you really feel I am spamming or trolling?


I don't think it has anything to do with whether Erik or others who've responded negatively to your posts or follow-ups don't like your views (with the exception of your faith in ball flight laws that are physically wrong).  Your original post laid out a philosophy of teaching that, in a positive interpretation, has a lot to say for it, and a good coach will definitely be able to size up a player's mental approach and psychology and have developed ways to get a player to feel for themselves what a fix for the current problem that's being addressed actually feels like.

The problem Erik's talking about is in your response.  This is a very condescending response that is totally dismissive of the poster's point:

"Unless someone has been injected with a local anaesthetic, they can usually feel their elbow bend unless their concentration is elsewhere."

The poster literally said he can't feel his arm bend.  You dismiss him and say unless he's under anesthetic or isn't bothering to pay attention, he can in fact feel his elbow bend.  Essentially you're telling him his own experience isn't actually what happened.  Then you dismissively say this:

"However I think you should stick to being controlled and stay with judgemental feedback."

Which connotes that if the poster is so unable to feel his own body and doesn't respond well to what he understands to be the exact approach to coaching that you're advocating, then he should stick with being the bitch of a nasty judgmental coach whose approach is so much worse than yours (and presumably not be as good as he could be).

A thread on different coaching styles would be interesting, though I think that being a good coach means having command of many different styles of teaching and tailoring the exact approach in a given lesson to the particular student and the particular problems that student is having, so it's hard to encapsulate a whole theory of teaching in short posts on a forum.  But this thread won't be an interesting discussion of different approaches.  You instantly turn it into a very unhelpful pissing match.

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Patrick57, guys like you come and go alot on this golf forum and others. They come on here espouse their view of the world, get beat up a bit and either attack the posters on here and eventually get banned, or everyone gets bored and you disappear. I foresee one of those two outcomes in this case. Not sure which one yet.

After reading your threads it is clear you have an agenda. If you were here to help people you would respond kindly (from the beginning and not after being punished) to other golfers because you would want to help them. If you want to help then be helpful, and act like it. Or just push whatever it is you came on here to push and get it over with.

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Note: This thread is 2752 days old. We appreciate that you found this thread instead of starting a new one, but if you plan to post here please make sure it's still relevant. If not, please start a new topic. Thank you!

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