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Different way to practice


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I had gotten relatively good at piano, writing (brilliant at writing stories, so much so, I'm afraid the publisher will steal my work), clarinet, martial arts, and other things like card tricks and different card fans. These all are things I've gotten really good at, and everyone always thought they came natural to me. I know better.

It took plenty of hard work to get good at these things, and I was far from a natural. I now know, through study, that I had practiced effectively, and very deeply.

Daniel Coyle talks about this kind of practice in his book, The Talent Code, and when I read that book I realized that the reason I was so good at these things I've mentioned was because I had practiced deeply.

Golf has always eluded me, mostly because golf instruction has gotten too complicated, and certainly doesn't help anyone play better, because it doesn't allow you to learn the game. Learning is how you get better, not by being told a bunch of mechanical instructions. If golf swing instruction worked, then people would be better by now. But it doesn't work, that's why people struggle with the game.

You're better off to be self taught than to get a golf lesson. Case closed.

Practicing in a certain way is important, not just changing your swing. In fact, if you practice properly, your swing will change in the correct way by itself. You don't have to think about your walking technique, for example, because when you learned the skill, at first your walking technique was terrible. But through practice, you gained the proper technique, because there's only one proper way to do it. It's the same with golf, there's only one way to do it right, and if you practice correctly, the technique happens.

Here's how to practice properly:

 You have to have a target object of improvement. Driver? Short game? And get specific. Slice driver? Pitching?

Once you have your target, you go to work. You hit your first shot, allowing for the shot to be what it is. Obviously, if you're not good at it, you'll make a mistake. But here's the thing:

That mistake is what will lead you to improved skill. If you shank your first pitch for example, you naturally adjust to make better contact by making an attempt to hit the middle of the face. And you do this over and over, trying to hit the middle of the face, making mistakes and correcting them over and over, and eventually, through practice and effort, you'll hit the center of the face. After this, it becomes automatic to hit the middle of the face, because you've done it so many times it becomes habit. Then you can either work on distance control or accuracy, never both at once but one at a time.

Slowly, you become a great pitcher of the ball. You end up with beautiful technique, and you can easily pitch the ball different distances (if you practiced that), and you can become really great at it.

And here's the best part. It becomes automatic. You don't have to think about doing it anymore, it becomes subconscious, like walking or talking, or driving a car or throwing a ball. This makes it effortless, you don't have to think about it anymore, you just do it.

And there's practice. Practice in essence is making mistakes, correcting them over time, and then repeating. You're always pushing your current skill level, you're always on the edge of your abilities. This is where the gains are made.

Thing is, you don't have to work on your swing technique to get this. It happens by itself. You just have to practice, and everything will take care of itself.

Let me know what you think.

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31 minutes ago, Jacktgolf said:

Golf has always eluded me, mostly because golf instruction has gotten too complicated, and certainly doesn't help anyone play better, because it doesn't allow you to learn the game.

That's incredibly inaccurate.

31 minutes ago, Jacktgolf said:

If golf swing instruction worked, then people would be better by now.

Two things:

  • People are better now.
  • Only about 10-15% of golfers actually take lessons.
31 minutes ago, Jacktgolf said:

You're better off to be self taught than to get a golf lesson. Case closed.

No.

31 minutes ago, Jacktgolf said:

Practicing in a certain way is important, not just changing your swing. In fact, if you practice properly, your swing will change in the correct way by itself. You don't have to think about your walking technique, for example, because when you learned the skill, at first your walking technique was terrible. But through practice, you gained the proper technique, because there's only one proper way to do it. It's the same with golf, there's only one way to do it right, and if you practice correctly, the technique happens.

  • There are a lot of ways to swing the golf club and get good results.
  • Walking is significantly easier than hitting a golf ball.
31 minutes ago, Jacktgolf said:

That mistake is what will lead you to improved skill. If you shank your first pitch for example, you naturally adjust to make better contact by making an attempt to hit the middle of the face.

No… golfers don't "naturally" get better.

31 minutes ago, Jacktgolf said:

Slowly, you become a great pitcher of the ball. You end up with beautiful technique, and you can easily pitch the ball different distances (if you practiced that), and you can become really great at it.

:hmm:

31 minutes ago, Jacktgolf said:

Thing is, you don't have to work on your swing technique to get this. It happens by itself. You just have to practice, and everything will take care of itself.

Let me know what you think.

I think that your post is nuts.

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Your post isn't nuts, just inaccurate, and based on a lot of observations that are yours and yours alone.

Many of the skills you listed fit the logic you are offering. But I think you're overlooking a very important element. You can't fix what you're doing wrong if you don't know what it is you're doing wrong. A golf swing has so many elements and nuances to it that it is almost impossible to isolate every single one of them, and only adjust one nuance at a time and do everything else the same way over and over while you adjust that one element of your swing. (If you could, you wouldn't have any problems with your golf swing to begin with.)

I too am one who is generally better self-taught. I find that many instructors (not just in golf) are either unwilling or unable to teach you the "why" of what you do, and just tell you that you "must" do it a certain way to be correct. (And we all know there are many ways to skin a cat.)

While I agree that you must practice to get better, sometimes, having a trained eye to help identify what you are doing wrong, and offering ways in which you might fix the problem can be quite helpful. It's not for everyone, but you're dead wrong if you think it doesn't work for anyone.

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7 hours ago, Jacktgolf said:

That mistake is what will lead you to improved skill. If you shank your first pitch for example, you naturally adjust to make better contact by making an attempt to hit the middle of the face. And you do this over and over, trying to hit the middle of the face, making mistakes and correcting them over and over, and eventually, through practice and effort, you'll hit the center of the face. After this, it becomes automatic to hit the middle of the face, because you've done it so many times it becomes habit.

That's really funny.  Seriously, I read that paragraph and I busted out laughing. 

 

 

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8 hours ago, Jacktgolf said:

Here's how to practice properly:

 You have to have a target object of improvement. Driver? Short game? And get specific. Slice driver? Pitching?

You are right about focussing in on one are of improvement at a time. Focus on your biggest problem area first, improve that, then move on to the next area. 

A well structured and focused program of instruction has been proven to work by countless golfers.

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8 hours ago, Jacktgolf said:

Let me know what you think.

I would have been ok with your opinion had you suggested it applied to a small percentage of the population. But I agree with what others have suggested in that most people cannot identify problems as easily as a good instructor can.

I don't take lessons and a good swing has not come naturally in the 6-7 years I've been working on it. At least I know better than suggest if that's the way it is with me, it must be that way for everyone. Of course, that doesn't mean that lessons would have helped me. Some people seem uncoachable or at least have difficulty applying the information they receive. But when we're talking about the majority of the population, I have to disagree with your opinion. There are just too many players who will say they sucked until they found a good instructor.

Also, while someone can get to an 8 using one method, that doesn't necessarily mean they would not have gotten as low as a 3, or even held to a 16 using another.

I have my own opinion on lessons and how they apply to those with various potentials. But I don't really know anything - they are only opinions based on thoughts and not data. I think you'd have to present a larger, broader sample than your own experiences to change anyone's mind.

Maybe you could add a poll that asked the question Has instruction substantially helped my game? _Yes  _No _Unsure.

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8 hours ago, Rykymus said:

Your post isn't nuts, just inaccurate, and based on a lot of observations that are yours and yours alone.

I agree with this. Making general statements about others based solely on one's own experiences is flawed.

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I think you write well, and that could fool some people, but your message is fundamentally flawed.

The idea that we just all dig it out of the dirt on our own is a common idea. It’s appealing too. Hard work, focus, learn from mistakes- you’ll get there!

You don’t seem to address the idea that you’d improve more reliably and likely quicker if there were a smart instructor who could check up with you and give you that one priority thing that would help you. 

If you understood that one priority, worked smartly on it- until it was good enough, and then moved on to the next priority, that’d be pretty good right? 

The chances that each of us can just practice and find a good swing on our own via trial and error just seems preposterous- no matter how well you’ve worded it. It’s just as likely that people will just ingrain bad habits.

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I used to tell people that I was self taught, and then realized that I was not. I learned by reading instructional articles in Golf Digest 50+ years ago, when GD was a publication actually worth reading! That, plus a few tips I got from my Uncle who was a country club pro before WWII.

Even though things were a lot less expensive back then, the cost of lessons was out of the question. So, a magazine subscription and buckets of range balls would have to suffice. I kept what worked and discarded what didn't. And I got to be pretty good. But then, I was young and athletic. And to say I did it all by myself would be a huge lie!

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14 minutes ago, Buckeyebowman said:

I used to tell people that I was self taught, and then realized that I was not. I learned by reading instructional articles in Golf Digest 50+ years ago, when GD was a publication actually worth reading! That, plus a few tips I got from my Uncle who was a country club pro before WWII.

Even though things were a lot less expensive back then, the cost of lessons was out of the question. So, a magazine subscription and buckets of range balls would have to suffice. I kept what worked and discarded what didn't. And I got to be pretty good. But then, I was young and athletic. And to say I did it all by myself would be a huge lie!

I know/knew quite a few golfers who became profecient swinging a club the way you just discribed your own journey. Some even did essentially what the OP discribed

I started out that way, but was lucky enough to find, and afford an instructor who was able to help me fine tune my swing, and game in general. I became a better golfer faster taking lessons, than my friends who went on their learning journey on their own. I took multiple lessons over several years. Sometimes two, or more a month.

I read some where that 80% of the known golfers do not take lessons. Another percentage of golfers who do,will only take one, or two lessons, and then go on their own. For lessons to work, it's going to take several lessons to get good, and then refresher lessons after that to stay good. A lot of folks won't set that kind of money, or time a side for multiple lessons. Those folks who do not take lessons will develope their own game. Some will became decent golfers, while others won't. 

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On 4/13/2018 at 11:07 PM, Jacktgolf said:

After this, it becomes automatic to hit the middle of the face, because you've done it so many times it becomes habit.

So....why do you suppose the best golfers in the world hit shanks? Slice their drives into the trees? Flub a pitch 20yds short? Miss a 3' putt?

 

On 4/13/2018 at 11:07 PM, Jacktgolf said:

It's the same with golf, there's only one way to do it right, and if you practice correctly, the technique happens.

Do what? Back swing? Um...Jim Furyk, Ryan Moore, Calvin Peete, Nicklaus, Woods, Palmer, Garcia? Each one very different. All excellent ball strikers. In fact, they all made a living on the PGA Tour. Technique can happen. In many forms. But a successful technique is a must. If your technique includes the 5 keys which are tirelessly proven to be present in virtually all good ball strikers, then it's a good technique. But it sure as hell doesn't just 'happen'.

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On 4/13/2018 at 11:07 PM, Jacktgolf said:

You have to have a target object of improvement. Driver? Short game? And get specific. Slice driver? Pitching?

Once you have your target, you go to work. You hit your first shot, allowing for the shot to be what it is. Obviously, if you're not good at it, you'll make a mistake. But here's the thing:

That mistake is what will lead you to improved skill. If you shank your first pitch for example, you naturally adjust to make better contact by making an attempt to hit the middle of the face. And you do this over and over, trying to hit the middle of the face, making mistakes and correcting them over and over, and eventually, through practice and effort, you'll hit the center of the face. After this, it becomes automatic to hit the middle of the face, because you've done it so many times it becomes habit. Then you can either work on distance control or accuracy, never both at once but one at a time.

There are a lot of golfers who do exactly what you're saying and never see any substantial improvement.  

Golf is difficult to get for many. The proper sequencing and rhythm in the swing necessary to hit the ball well is not intuitive to a lot of people. Some people will play decades without ever really getting it. 

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I´m self tough but this post is so wrong.. perfect shots or technique just don´t comes naturally by traying ones and again. You have to try new intentional changes in order to make differents outcomes. They could lead to inprovement or not. If you are not capable of doing that theres where a teacher can help you with all their experience, generally they will have a lot more than you and in most cases it will be benefitial for you.  

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I have yet to take a lesson. However, I have watched a ton of You Tube videos, and read dozens of articles, and forum posts here. It's not instruction, but it's definitely not figuring it all out on my own. Even if all you do is watch other people at the range swing, or watched some professionals swing on TV, you're still not figuring it out on your own.

It took me about 6 months to finally get to the point where I was hitting consistently. It didn't happen until I had garnered enough knowledge about the "science and mechanics" of the swing and the body to be able to understand what was working and why, and what wasn't working and why. And I had to "unlearn" several bad habits that developed through trial and error trying to fix my swing (like using a stronger grip to fix a slice instead of fixing my out to in swing path.) Had I taken at least one lesson from a good teacher (and by "good", I mean someone who explains "why" and doesn't just tell you to do something) I probably would've spent a lot less time (and money) working on my swing, and would have played more actual golf instead.

Trial and error can work, but your chances of success are far less, and it will take you longer.

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