Whenever I am working on something I always do it in slow motion”
Ben
Hogan

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As we enter the new year with so many resolutions being made. The topic that always comes up is – improvement.

How can we improve on what we did last year, and how do we go about it?

Deep Practice

It seems we all have this burning desire inside us to improve. It’s got nothing to do with where we are born or how privileged or under-privileged some are – we all want to improve on our preset condition – it’s human nature.

I had a great conversation a few days ago with one of my clients over a beer at The Dye Course. We just played 9 holes and got into just why some people seem to improve faster than others. The 10,000 hour rule was discussed, plus a lot more. But at the end of the conversation I asked him if he ever had a practice session whilst only capturing slow motion practice swings? he said NO, and I knew I’d just planted a seed!

Deep Practice is something I came across after reading a book called “The Talent Code” by Dan Coyle a few years ago. He had done some extensive research into just why some people seem to have way more talent at something than others, and travelled around the world to the most bizarre places to find answers.

Neural Pathways and Myelination

In the book – it explains that when we perform a new task our brain builds a neural pathway.

mylination

We have millions as we have all performed millions of different tasks throughout our life. This is how we remember how to “ride a bike” as the saying goes.

The more we perform that task the more myelin we build up at each end of these neural pathways. The more Myelin on each end of a neural pathway the better you are at performing the task.

The Golf Swing

So if this is true, the more you repeat your swing or swing pattern – the easier it will be to put on auto-pilot.

But here’s where the problems lie – what if your movement patterns are causing a steep swing plane and an open club face at impact?

Simply put – if you keep repeating these movement patterns on the range and course you are building up the “myelination” around the neural pathway/pathways for that task and in effect engraining the wrong pattern.

This is why so many golfers around the world find it difficult to change their swing.

So what’s the answer?

Initially – not so much hitting balls – but making an effort to change your movement patterns.

This should be done in Slow Motion  – not a speed that resembles hitting a golf shot.

Take a look at this video I found on Youtube of Ben Hogan practicing in super slo-mo.

If there are two two traits that all pros have it’s Patience and Composure. They know that if they want to make changes they have to spend some time going through this process first before they start hitting balls. Think of it as – reprograming the computer.

Knowing this information could be the difference between another year shooting lousy scores and a year where you actually make significant advances in your game and enjoy it more. Because once you build a decent swing for yourself, you can put in on autopilot and focus on playing the game and making birdies.

Testing Yourself

So once you start to go through this process of changing some movement patterns in your swing, when do you know when to start hitting balls at full speed and using longer clubs?

Simple – you test yourself.

When you make changes you ultimately want them to show up under pressure. So think of the learning curve as passing through a few levels of competition.

Level 1 – Producing the new move at full speed on the range with all clubs – Inc a pre shot routine.

Level 2 – Producing the new move on the course.

Level 3 – Producing the new move on the course under mild pressure i.e. playing for lunch or a few dollars.

Level 4 – Producing the new move in a competition/t’ment at your home/local course.

Level 5 – Producing the new move under extreme pressure i.e playing well in your Club Championship/Pro-am etc.

These levels are obviously different for a pro but you get the idea for an average club member.

Now, what about when the new move doesn’t show up when you want it? Well unfortunately this is simply a lesson in patience and composure. You go back a level and make sure you are competent at that level before testing yourself again in the higher pressure level.

I highly recommend “The Talent Code” by Dan Coyle. It’s an extremely eye opening book and a great read. Click below to grab a copy off Amazon.

Need help making those changes? Click here