Archive for the ‘Teaching Techniques’ category

It’s Time to See How this Stuff Works

June 20th, 2013

The golf instruction industry has been going through some serious discovery over the last decade or so. This discovery has been on the subject of 3d motion, 3d ball collision, biomechanics and things of that nature. Some of this discovery is brand new and some of this discovery has been around for many years but with limited exposure or limited ways to verify its accuracy. I’ve really enjoyed being around when this wave of learning was/is taking place and I understand the necessity for accuracy of information.

However, now it is time to see what this information does to golfers. How does it effect beginners, club players and elite players? How does it change the way coaches convey information to their students? It’s time to see the application side of this new information.

As coaches, we will certainly be using this new information in our instruction. Some coaches may try to resist the new information or its application. How have you implemented it? Have you purchased expensive high tech machines to help with diagnosis? Have you learned the information for your own knowledge and then filtered the information you give to the student to keep it simple and understandable? These are just some of the options available to the coach and I know for sure that many of us are approaching this new information differently.

I think that is a good thing. Any newly attained factual information is automatically assumed to be better than the information before it. In terms of accuracy, this must be true. In terms of helping the player standing in front of you, the jury is still out on this one.

Everyone can show success from their particular strategy.

Everyone has seen failure from their particular strategy.

With this information out there, I’m curious to see how it’s application is utilized by the coaches and their players. I think it is appropriate to see which pieces of new information have actual real world application and value to the player. I don’t think you can just say because it’s new and proven that it therefore must be better. Like anything, now it must be tested for effectiveness.

One of the problems is, how do we know if it’s effective or not given that we are dealing with human beings? Surely it’s possible to give the player in front of you all the right information at the right time and for whatever reason, improvement doesn’t occur. Similarly, it’s also possible to give the person in front of you the wrong information and that student improves. Over time, given enough students, probability should work in the favor of the coach giving the right information at the right time but that doesn’t help the coach that has limited opportunities of exposure to players before a reputation is created.

A few weeks ago, I tweeted something about learning detailed, scientific, and accurate information and coaching. For me, I enjoy that idea. I want to dissect to the smallest minutia possible because that is what I like. That helps me understand the bigger picture cause I can see how all the pieces fit together. However, when I was teaching full swing, I would use very little if any of this minutia in my coaching. I am currently in the discovery phase of applying this detailed thought to putting and green reading. Again, this micro analysis allows me to provide better macro instruction.

With that being said, I don’t like to presume that the student in front of me can’t understand the minutia as well as I can. If I show up to my lesson tee to take a lesson from me, I better be ready to explain information in the detail I would ask for as a student. I owe it to all my current and future students to be ready to answer any question they may throw at me. It bothers me to know end to hear someone say to me, “Why ask that? You’re making it too complicated.” A search for understanding is not making anything complicated. It may be complicated information but that doesn’t mean that now I will not be able to hit the ball well because I’ve learned something complicated.

I don’t understand the idea that some have about how difficult it is to separate information from application. I think it’s quite simple. This is what I know to be true. This is what I must do and/or feel to get the desired outcome. How are these two things related?

Finally, I would highly recommend to all the coaches that currently believe that this information is the end all be all to keep looking for ways to prove its INaccuracy. I am very comfortable saying this. This is what I believe to be true at this time based on the available evidence before me. When and if new evidence becomes available that directly contradicts my currently held beliefs, I will throw out my old beliefs and replace them with the new.

In either case, the application of the information is what is upon us now and the true value of the information will be exposed.

Please consider sharing this around. Would love to hear players and coaches input on how they are applying the information and which information if any if having little to no value in terms of application.

Is it Professional to correct other Professionals?

December 16th, 2012

Many of you know that I like to ask questions. Doesn’t matter if it’s on the computer or face to face. If I don’t understand, I ask questions. If the answer doesn’t make sense, I ask another question. I’ll ask as many questions as needed for me to understand. Once I understand, then I can choose to agree or disagree or see how this new information fits in with whatever I think I already know. This may or may not lead to more questions. In any event, I think you get the picture.

For the first time ever, I was chastised for asking questions at a learning seminar. Another person that attended the seminar came up to me 2 days later in the security line of the airport and mentioned to me how upset they were with my questions and interuptions. It was mentioned to me that they had spent good money on this class and I had diminished it with all my questions. They said I was being deliberately antagonistic. I was shocked. I eventually apologized for how they felt and then introduced myself as I didn’t know who they were till then.

I bring this story up because there has been a consistent topic that arises online about whether or not it is professional to correct or even question another professional. In this particular case(at the seminar), there was no correcting that was needed but rather just me trying to get an understanding. It is also different than some peoples concerns because I was asking questions of the person while they were there. It wasn’t just simply a discussion of a video or an article about information presented by someone that wasn’t able to defend themselves, if needed. For some, that makes a difference and I would agree with that to a point. I try to make it a point to ask the person that presented the information if I have questions or concerns about it.

The thing that drives me is my duty. My duty as a teaching professional is to the student. My duty is not to other instructors. My duty is to the information and to try and get the most factual and accurate information I can. My duty (Our Duty) is to advance the correctness of the body of information that all golf professionals have access to so that we can all make students better. I think this duty is very important and sometimes lost amongst the image retention that is so pervasive in this industry. It is not about the teachers. It is about the students. It’s about getting right the things that are possible to get right. After that, preference abounds and that’s great but lets at least be ok with the idea that we should all work toward correct info whenever possible.

I understand that some would rather not rock the boat. I understand that it can appear disrespectful to correct another professionals information. The problem is that silence has already proven in the past to cause more problems than not.

Not too long ago, the PGA of America used to teach a set of Ball Flight Laws during its educational program that were found later to be incorrect. I know for a fact that there were people that thought this information was correct many, many years ago. Was there enough noise/questioning to bring attention to this information so that it would be studied more fully? Clearly there wasn’t enough outward questioning for at least a few years. Only recently has enough noise been made and now that information has been updated. How many students were hurt by the lack of open discussion on this one topic alone? Was it professional to not rock the boat and at the same time set back golf instruction for years? Hurt students for years? It might have been professional not to question but look at the cost.

That being said, I do also believe strongly that their is an appropriate way of advancing information when dealing with individuals. I do not believe that discussion of information should be engagement free. I believe it should be between the individuals involved and I proceed under those beliefs with my behavior. It’s one of the main reason I prefer twitter. One to one interaction. A bunch of current online friendships began with the phrase “I humbly suggest you look into this for more information……” I have tried to not be one to comment on material without the comment being directed at the person that produced the material or to the person that showed me the material.

Each of us will decide what is the correct path for each of us to take. Do we question or do we wait and see. Do we worry about being perceived as a jerk for always asking? I’ll admit that I worry about it often but apparently that hasn’t stopped me. : ) I do it because I want to know and I want my students to get the best information I have access to at that point in time. I hope you all feel the same duty as well.

If this struck a cord with you please share it and thanks for reading.

Golf Instruction – Main Stream VS Street Cred

December 7th, 2012

This post is about Golf Instruction. It is strictly my opinion and is basically me thinking out loud.  I’m going to discuss my thoughts on Main Stream Golf Instruction VS Street Credibility. Basically, it’s a comparison between heavy internet active coaches and those that aren’t. I’m guessing it may ruffle a few feathers but my goal, as always, is to get you thinking.

First, let’s start with a few definitions. To me, I see a general trend in golf instruction of coaches breaking down into 2 groups. Those that use the internet to engage with other coaches and those that don’t. The ones that use the internet quite a bit, I will label as street cred and those that don’t as main stream. These are not intended to be either positive or negative categories rather just a classification of mine.

Not to long ago, the opportunities for golf professionals to make a name for themselves depended more on their connections than on their ability or information. This is just a generalization and certainly doesn’t apply on all counts. The internet has allowed those that so choose to create an identity for themselves on a very grass roots level. Many have taken this route and have generated fantastic businesses through the use of forum’s, YouTube videos and a other means. I dare say, businesses they might not have been able to generate otherwise.

Part of the process of building a golf instruction business online is the likelihood that there will be conflict. Conflict in terms of disagreement in philosophy, language, correctness, etc. The heavy internet coach continually goes through a public and vocal discussion of the them and their information. Because of this public face to their information, players and other instructors can make their own judgments on the validity of the information and the person in general. Now, I’m not saying that this doesn’t happen to non internet using pros because it does relative to their writings in magazines or books or whatever. It’s the nature of the world, especially with golf pro’s, to look at another coaches ideas critically. Personally, I think that is a good thing and golf is better for it.

This is what I call Street Cred: A coach that constantly puts their information, reputation and ideas out into an arena (internet) full of sharks that can’t wait to find something wrong with it or discuss it. This Street Cred is a form of value that players and coaches can assess and use when deciding if they should go learn from that person or may be able to help them in some way. Those that have Street Cred may feel more validated with their information because of the scrutiny it has been under. Right or Wrong I don’t know. Again just thinking out loud.

Main Stream coaches are those that don’t use the internet as a sounding board. They may or may not use the internet for research but typically will not engage in the public nature of internet golf instruction as those I termed Street Cred. These coaches are typically already well established and don’t need to dig out a name for themselves in the internet arena. They have created this name for themselves by making great players and working for great coaches or working at great clubs. It is well deserved.

They really have nothing to gain from the interaction with other coaches and players online. They can pretty much only validate themselves in the eye of others or hurt themselves by providing information that is inaccurate. Not much benefit there relative to the risk.

The funny thing is that I think whichever side you are on currently, you probably wish you had a little more of the other side. Not in all cases but in a bunch I theorize. I think we all value validation. This post is about where different coaches seek out that validation. Do they seek it out in private or do they seek it out in public or are they one of the rare that seek it out in both.

Hope you enjoyed my little thought.

Please consider sharing using the buttons located at the top and bottom of the post.

Thanks again for reading.

 

5 Things I’ve Noticed That Are Changing About Golf Coaching

October 6th, 2012

Golf Coaching appears to be going through a phase. I’m not sure how to define this phase but the fairly recent influx of access to technology and information seems to be causing ripples. This new information, in some cases, has lead to some interesting observations. Here are 5 that I have noticed.

 

1)   Information no longer separates New coaches from Experienced coaches.

 

The amount of sharing of quality information has dramatically increased. This has allowed the younger coaches I run into these days, to have incredible amounts of information at their finger-tips if they simply do a little work and seek it out.  They are able to learn significant amounts of information and factual information very early on.

 

When I was a younger coach, I truly believed that the best coaches in the world knew information that I didn’t have and that was one of the reasons why they were the best. I believe the perceived information gap between new and experienced coaches is disappearing. In fact, if anything, more new coaches think that experienced coaches have poorer information than they do. I don’t think this is much of a surprise as my boys of 9 and 8 already think they know more than me as well. =)

 

In this case, I am simply talking about the information. I am not talking about the experience. Experience will be discussed next.

 

2)   Experience still kicks Informations Butt

 

I’ve said this before recently but I’ll say it again. Information is not How. Once accurate information is learned, applying that information or not applying it now becomes the skill of the coach. Can the coach take newly presented information and work it into their belief system and adapt? Can the coach take newly presented information and use it to make their students better? This is where experience plays its biggest role.  Watching how players adapt to the words, pictures and feelings presented by the coach is what the experienced coach has over the new coach. They most likely will have a hierarchy of fixes for problems based on their past success rates. This should allow them to introduce solutions sooner and target root causes better. An experienced coach with great information is what we should all aspire to.

3)   Coaches Exposing Coaches

 

There’s no question in my mind that social media and the internet have allowed greater critique of coaching information and technique. Not a day goes by that some coach somewhere doesn’t post a video or magazine article of another coach talking about something that the posting coach disagrees with. The question is, is this something that should be happening or shouldn’t it? In other words, is it appropriate to expose another coach’s bad information? Once again, I have gone back and forth on this one and once again experience has to lead the way. I have certainly leaned toward letting the person know that maybe they should consider looking into other information to see if it changes their perspective. To be honest, in the past I would do it to try and seem more knowledgeable than the other coach with the indirect desire to help more golfers with better information all over. That was when I mistakenly thought information is what separated coaches.  I think it is a good thing for golfers when more coaches know accurate info. The manner in which some coaches go about this may not be the most useful to that end.

 

4)   Facts and Data Collection are a big deal

 

There are many, many coaches these days investigating golfers, the learning environment, the body, the golf swing, you name it in an attempt to better understand how to help golfers.  It is astonishing the minutia that some of us will go to better understand things (guilty as charged). I love the theory and the minutia and connecting the data to enhance understanding. Once again, the question is, How helpful to golfers is it compared to other things? I have a few friends that excel in critical thinking and reasoning and I look forward to my conversations with these individuals. To me, it’s brain food and I love it. Not every coach needs this type of info in my opinion. At the end of the day, the best coaches are the best coaches for certainly more than what they know. They provide things that others can’t provide and we may not even be able to define what those things are. We just know that their players keep improving and that great players seek them out. There is so much information available to those that are looking that I think you have to make some choices. I don’t believe 1 person can be expert in all of them. The goal is to find the experts and bring them into your coaching circle when their expertise is needed. I can promise you that you can find them on twitter for free.

 

5)   Fact based goals or Feel based goals

 

Is the goal of the coach to improve the player while using accurate information or is the goal to simply improve the player? I go back and forth on this question. I struggle between my desire to be accurate over all else and my desire to improve the player. If I tell my player something I know is wrong and it helps them, is that a bad thing? Do all players need to know what is right or what is wrong or do they need to know how to improve? Experience, I believe, is the answer to these questions. An experienced teacher can determine what is best for the person in front of them and help them with pictures or feels that allow for success under pressure. For me, I tend to be willing to say whatever I want to produce a result and then go back and fill in the facts. For example, to do what you want you can picture this or feel that. Know that if you actually do this picture or feel the true outcome would be this. As long as this feel or this picture produces the results we both want, I’m content using it. The true definition of ownership is can they do it under pressure. If the facts produce that result that’s great. If the feels produce that result that’s great also. We have to remember that our job is to improve the player. How we do that is where we should be spending our time.

 

 

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed it. Please feel free to share this with your friends and students by using the social media buttons at the top and bottom of this page. Also please consider sharing your opinion in the comments section as well.

 

JG

Ben Hogan, Deliberate Practice and the Secret

September 26th, 2012

Ben Hogan. The name calls out for a player to work hard and practice as he did. Here’s a paper by Scott Jenkins titled, “Digging it out of the Dirt: Ben Hogan, Deliberate Practice and the Secret”.

From the Abstract, “The purpose of this article is to use Anders Ericsson’s theory of deliberate practice to examine the way in which the legendary golfer Ben Hogan worked on his game.” Is was first published in the ” Annual Review of Golf Coaching 2010″

Digging it out of the Dirt: Ben Hogan, Deliberate Practice and the Secret

As always, please feel to share.

JG