As a golf teacher who comes into contact with almost 1000 golfers each year, I have a pretty good idea of how much a person can improve in their golf long-term. Often, this impression is made within the first 5 minutes meeting someone. Sometimes, I am wrong – but I am more often right.
This has nothing to do with talent, or how well they can hit the ball when they arrive. It’s more of a mindset thing – a personality trait. I call it the difference between being a Baller, or a One-Baller. What is a Baller?
The above definition taken from www.oxforddictionaries.com
That’s right – the Baller knows how to get stuff done – they have mastered the art of mastery. And, as such, they are able to be successful in many walks of life – whatever they try.
So, what is a “One-Baller”?
Obviously, the above example is completely ridiculous. However, many golfers can base the efficacy of a swing/movement change on their ability (or non-ability) to do it immediately – usually within the first shot (hence “One-Baller”).
At the end of this article is a video of a true Baller – don’t miss it!
One- Baller Example
Just the other day, I had a player with a grip weaker than American beer. They were coming in with a clubface so open that even Mickelson would have been proud of the ensuing 7 iron flop shot. The grip was clearly inhibiting function.
Why is my ball going high, right and short?
- I showed him how I grip the club, then showed him the resultant ball flight.
- Then I gripped it like him, and showed him the ball flight (50% shorter and to the right).
- Then he decided to experiment with gripping it more like I do.
He made a pretty good attempt at a different grip, but complained of discomfort (this is normal). With his first attempt, he hit the ball right out of the toe end of the club, turned to me and said
I don’t like it. It doesnt work. I’m going back to my old grip.
Now, this didn’t surprise me. Lots of guys out there are “One-Ballers”, and I know what it is like to make a grip change (I’ve done it myself). But, hopefully through reading this article, I can turn you into a Baller.
I stuck some Dr Scholls on the face, and pleaded with him to try the grip for another 10 shots, just trying to calibrate the strike on the face. While it wasn’t easy to convince him, he agreed, and we eventually picked up 30 yards of carry and straightened out that slice.
Change Requires Work
Meaningful change is not always easy. You know what they say
The best things in life are hard to get – otherwise everyone would have them
When people watch me hitting shots, they might see that it looks effortless and I have good control of the ball. But, what they don’t see is the thousands of hours of practice and difficult changes that I have made which eventually paid off with enough reps.
Baller Mindset- I’m going to figure out what the best do, then I am going to work my ass off to get there
One Baller Mindset – I don’t want to work to get better. I want it handed to me on a plate
Many lonely days getting up earlier than others and working harder
Change Requires Time
I was lucky enough to read Nick Faldo’s book when I first started playing golf. One thing always stuck out to me. He said something along the lines of
It takes around 3,000 repetitions to ingrain a new motion/habit
This must have burned into my subconscious, as I have always had this viewpoint with anything I am trying to learn – whether that is golf, musical instruments or languages. While there is likely debate over precisely how many reps make something automatic, one thing is for sure – change often doesn’t occur in 5 minutes.
Sure, we all have those moments where we find something, or we have a lesson and immediately hit the ball better. Over 90% of my lessons walk out of it with quantifiably better results. But it doesn’t stop there – you still have to go and do the reps in order to make it automatic (ideally quality reps with a process, like I discussed last week).
Baller Mindset – I know what to do now. I just have to practice it more, and I will get better at it with each rep
One-Baller Mindset – Okay, I’ve done it 3 times in a row so I must have mastered it. Let’s get on the course immediately, I can’t wait to shoot a new record score.
Change Requires Stepping Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Change is often uncomfortable – at least initially. The first time I held the golf club in a more traditional manner, it felt disgusting to me. But now, I don’t know how I could hold the club any other way – it feels natural to me.
The same is true of almost any swing change I have made in the past. As humans, we are designed to stay in our comfort zones for safety. But change and growth require that we get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Just like jumping into a new car might feel uncomfortable and different, it just takes a few drives around the block before your comfort increases.
Baller Mindset – This feels pretty strange right now. With practice and repetition, this will feel more natural pretty quickly.
One-Baller mindset – Eww, this feels horrible. I’m going straight back to my old, comfortable swing.
You Will F#@K Up – But It’s Ok
Often, in the initial stages of change, our body is trying to figure out how to fit the new pieces into all the other pieces.
I recently changed my keyboard on my computer. The keys are spaced closer together than on my old computer, so, for a while, I kept hitting the wrong keys while typing. However, I knew that this was only temporary as my brain shifts around and creates a new map of the keys. Now, a few months later, it is automatic (in fact, typing on my old keyboard produces errors now).
This is true with any change of an ingrained motion. Initially, our body may not be able to figure out how it fits in with all the other elements of our swing. And, as golf is such a precise sport, this can cause immediate short-term disruption to our results (not always, but prepare yourself for the possibility).
During times of direct technical change, I will often periodize it to the off-season, so that this disruption doesn’t affect your results. We should also work to compartmentalize our goals during this phase of training – where the goal becomes the desired change, and not necessarily the shot result.
Baller Mindset – I can do this successfully 1/10 times now. I can’t wait to do more practice so I can get that to 8/10 or more successful attempts.
One-Baller Mindset – I can’t do this 100% successfully at this moment in time, therefore I will never be able to do it.
Win a Signed Copy
In order to celebrate “The Practice Manual – The Ultimate Guide for Golfers” being one year old, I am giving away FREE SIGNED COPIES. Click below to learn more about the competition.
Golf is tough, and change is tougher. But it is possible – and sometimes a quality change can really increase your chance of success and future improvement. A lack of change may mean that you are stuck with what you currently have for life. Sure, you might be able to maximize your potential with what you have, but your potential may be severely limited by this lack of meaningful change. I would rather hit it like Spieth on a bad day, than a 20 handicap on a good day.
Take lessons from the baller
- Put in the reps – quality reps (quantity is a small part of the puzzle)
- Be patient – change requires time
- Step out of your comfort zone – it won’t be uncomfortable forever
- Accept mistakes – even see them as a sign that things are changing. Use a coach to make sure you are heading on the right track, but don’t see mistakes as failure.
Just remember, when you see a child learning to walk for the first time – we are all born Ballers.
As promised – this guy epitomizes the Baller Mindset. Enjoy – watch from 3 mins and 7 seconds in.