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The Four Stages of Competence


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Wikipedia defines the four stages of competence as: Unconscious incompetence - The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. They

I would say they're consciously competent if their goal is to be a good golfer, but they may be unconsciously incompetent if their goal is to be unconsciously competent. As in, they don't know what th

I find it interesting that at the bottom level (unconscious incompetence), the "unconscious" portion is a detracting word- implying being unaware- and something you need to fix by becoming more aware.

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It probably has to do with that we are going from being book smart to applying the knowledge in a applicable way. 

There are many cases where reading how to do something isn't the same as doing it. People will probably mess up on their first attempts. 

There is probably a disconnect between  relating written instruction to actual motor function. That goes into that feel isn't real. 

You can tell someone how to ride a bike. Can you tell someone how to balance? 

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Great post.

This is exactly how I've tried to "time" my lessons for the past 18 months or so.  Right now, I'm at Time #3...I've made some changes to the feel of my backswing that have made it difficult to continue to work on my downswing piece, so I'm not sure how to proceed.  Time for another lesson (I actually had one scheduled for today, but I've been sick as a dog all week).

56 minutes ago, iacas said:

Why?

I think it's because it provides the illusion of progress.

It makes it seem like there is a progression from Step #1 to Step #2.  I can sit in front of my computer at work, pull up some videos on YouTube, say "Ooo...that's part of my problem!" and then try out some drills from the video next time I'm at the range.  Then, the next week, I try something completely different.  There's no frustration; there is none of that "beating your head against a wall" feeling you get when trying to practice the same thing for months and not succeeding.  There's also no expertise required.

You've convinced yourself that you've moved from Step #1 to #2 (or even #3, if you are able to do the specific drill and it happens to help), but without the hard work and educated analysis.

 

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I think you have to define the skill or the "what" of being competent. If you use the driving a car analogy, I can drive a car without thinking and not crash, and I can go shoot approximately my handicap without thinking. But does that mean I am at the top of the pyramid for playing golf to my handicap?  But, if I'm working to improve my golf game then I think you have to break down the "what" as a specific piece of the swing.  I don't think most people truly identify the one priority piece to improve, and if they do, don't have the discipline to solely work on it.   Until you define the one priority Im not even sure if you are on the pyramid or I guess that is technically the red. 

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I think it is different bits and pieces for different people. Most of us are conscious of certain aspects of our swings. Some are competent at some aspects and then plenty more are unconscious about other aspects.

Most of mine are between conscious and unconscious incompetence. For instance, steady head (SK#1) is something I understand, I just can't get it to happen. Doubtlessly, there are plenty of other serious problems with my swing that i don't even think about.

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9 minutes ago, Wanzo said:

I think you have to define the skill or the "what" of being competent. If you use the driving a car analogy, I can drive a car without thinking and not crash, and I can go shoot approximately my handicap without thinking. But does that mean I am at the top of the pyramid for playing golf to my handicap?

You're unconsciously competent at playing golf at that level, but you're incompetent at being a scratch golfer.

You're working on improving, and the first piece you have relates to your hips swaying or turning. So while you were unconsciously competent (unc-comp) at doing what you've always done, you've had to move through the various stages re: your hip motion. You're somewhere in the con-comp phase right now, looking to move into unc-comp.

9 minutes ago, Wanzo said:

But, if I'm working to improve my golf game then I think you have to break down the "what" as a specific piece of the swing.

Correct.

9 minutes ago, Wanzo said:

I don't think most people truly identify the one priority piece to improve, and if they do, don't have the discipline to solely work on it.   Until you define the one priority Im not even sure if you are on the pyramid or I guess that is technically the red. 

Maybe.

Honestly there's really no "right" answer for the question I asked, but I think the answer has to be one of the bottom two levels (the incompetence ones).

I think they're in the red (unc-incomp) as well. They want to improve, but don't know what to do first or how to work on it. They're incompetent by their own definition (they're competent at shooting 94 or whatever, but they want to be better, and they can't do it - i.e. incompetent), but they don't know how to get there.

You could make a case that they're con-incomp, too: they know a bunch of things, but can't do them all, so they remain incompetent for a long time.

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I would guess they are consciously incompetent-They know things but do not know how to do them at any speed at all.

And they probably never will because they are trying to do ten things at once.

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To reanswer the question ?

I am going to say number two, conscious incompetence. Though they do not know how to apply the information they are aware of the deficiency in their swing. They might be a higher level in knowledge. They are incompetent in the application on how to apply that in knowledge to make themselves better. 

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Not to sound like an echo, but also consciously incompetent? 

An analogy is something like conscientious students who have taken a couple of years of high school Spanish or French but put them in a conversational setting, they can't communicate well because although they have some vocabulary, grammar, conjugation, etc..., they can't put it all together at once and figure out how they all fit together because they've achieved competence in passing tests, not actually talking, writing and reading in the real world.

To carry out the analogy further, perhaps knowing a lot about the swing is like the high school student and actually being able to make a proper swing and score is someone who was thrown into Madrid or Paris and forced to survive without any translation help.

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1 hour ago, nevets88 said:

To carry out the analogy further, perhaps knowing a lot about the swing is like the high school student and actually being able to make a proper swing and score is someone who was thrown into Madrid or Paris and forced to survive without any translation help.

 

I would clarify that by saying that the second person wasn't necessarily forced to do it without help, just that the second person is able to thrive and survive in those settings (regardless of the help they got along the way).

 

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I would say they're consciously competent if their goal is to be a good golfer, but they may be unconsciously incompetent if their goal is to be unconsciously competent. As in, they don't know what they don't know. They may know how to be a good golfer, but not how to be a truly great (i.e. unconsciously competent) golfer. This would be different than a Tour player, who knows how to get to unconscious competence - they are consciously competent at being unconscious competent. 

(I'm also fully willing to admit this makes no sense.)

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To carry the car analogy further, Ok you now know how to drive well enough, but can you drive in a race where you have to drift corners and such.  You've moved from uncon-com to uncon-incom or con-incom.  I know what it looks like to make it drift, but I have no idea how to physically do it.  Something with the brake and clutch pedal, going a certain speed to spin the tires, something along those lines.  I've turned fast enough where I slid a bit and I've played in the snow, but I wouldn't know how to purposefully do it on a turn when I need to.

I think that relates very closely to this question. Someone who can do what they're doing easily enough. But with the intention of getting better, you've watched the videos and read the magazines and know what it looks like to be better.  But, you don't know how to get started to do the movements to get to those better swings.  I'd say it's between con-incom and con-comp.  

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I find it interesting that at the bottom level (unconscious incompetence), the "unconscious" portion is a detracting word- implying being unaware- and something you need to fix by becoming more aware.  

But at the top level (unconscious competence), the "unconscious" portion is meant as being something to strive for. You've achieved such competence that you can just put the skill out of foreground of your thought because you've got it all on autopilot.

Just find it interesting, that's all. Please continue the discussion now :-)

OT for binary geeks:

Spoiler

At first I expected something like (competence listed first, consciousness second- which I know is not the order of the words):

00

01

10

11

But this pattern is more like:

00

01

11

10

Again, just thought it was interesting and thought I'd type up the strange thought passing through my head. I know @CarlSpackler likes these sorts of geeky analogies and his head was spinning earlier.:beer:

 

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For the first question: If someone came to me, saying I want to take up golf. I'd probably say to take a group lesson first. In that group lesson I'd recommend learning some basics about grip, short game stuff, like how to generically read a green, chip, and some basics on etiquette. Then go out a few times. Many will argue that you will develop bad habits that will take years to undo, I say poppycock. You are so new to the game that those things can be relearned and changed. So the idea is that you are going to need to change with slow motion practice no matter when you change. To recap, you will need slow motion practice with help from a really smart instructor. So damned if you do, damned if you don't. You are going to need to learn or re-learn with the use of simple S's mentioned by @iacas anyways. Still, the instruction for full swing mechanics should come within the first year of trying to learn the game. 

For the second question: Now, I am definitely one of the people who spend too much time learning and not enough time ingraining. I feel this is describing me:

On 12/28/2016 at 9:33 AM, iacas said:

We see this golfer on TST all the time, and it's something that plagues a lot of golfers on the Internet. This golfer seeks out a ton of information. They read a lot, watch a lot of videos, and absorb a ton. They can tell you fifteen things wrong with their swing. They can point out the various quirks of different Tour players, and are often dogmatic about what makes a good golf swing. They seem to "know" a lot of stuff… 

I know quite a bit about the swing because I have searched, a lot, probably too much. I have learned from a ton of people, absorbed, and learned what is good and what is not. But, that does not mean I can do it. I would describe myself as myself caught between the yellow and green. Sometimes I am in the green, and sometimes I am in the yellow. I would not say I am firmly in either camp. I have spent enough time to know I am not in the red, but I don't think I am always out of the yellow either. So both.

Really great topic.

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