Tiger Woods played exceptional golf this week – long overdue, but I am guessing this will be the start of a better stretch.
Are you there yet?
In an interview after his second round and tie for the lead, Tiger said the following
You are never there
you can see the video below
The golfers’ fallacy
There is a myth in golf which is very pervasive amongst amateurs. It’s the idea that one day, after enough work on the range and enough time ‘perfecting your swing’, everything will just fall into place, your faults will completely disappear and you can sit back and play great golf all the time.
This is just not true, and the myth itself often invades the practice of golfers and makes them train in a way which is not conducive to playing good golf all the time.
Need for adaptability
The fact is, most of golf (even at the elite level) is not pretty. There are only a few weeks in the year (at best) when a golfer is firing on all cylinders. Most of the time, their golf is much less than optimal, and they are simply grinding it out.
This is the case, even if you have
- 20,000+ hours of practice behind you
- Have a swing which an average amateur may never ever achieve (due to physical, mental, time, developmental constraints etc)
- Are practicing 8-10 hours a day
- Are going into the round after a great run
Anything can happen – and anything DOES happen. And when your swing is going out of whack, you need the ability to adapt and change – I call this self-repair.
This was never more evident than when Tiger had a blip in the middle of his final round, before coming back strong.
How many of you would have the GRIT to come back so strong after collapsing mid-round?
All about balance
You see, as a human, we are very changeable. While this can be annoying due to the fact it brings about performance fluctuations, this adaptability also allows us to learn new things – it’s a double edged sword.
But you have to have the ability to balance out whatever swing faults you have at the time. Steer the ship back on course, so to speak.
Be the captain of your own golf swing
Preparing for perfect golf
How do most golfers train?
They believe in the mantra “perfect practice makes perfect”, so they train for perfection by practicing grooving in an ideal swing over and over.
Sure, this can be part of the process. But you also need to have an ability to bring things back when they are going off course – improve your swing editing capabilities. You need to prepare for every eventuality your body may throw in during a round.
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail
If two golfers start shanking it mid-round, which one is going to be able to steer themselves back on course and salvage the round (or even turn it into a good one)?
Golfer A who only ever practices hitting the sweet spot
Golfer B who practices the above AND hitting different parts of the club face at will
I think you know the answer to that.
Practicing change improves our ability to change, should we need it.
So, how do we practice this?
How do we improve our ability to self-repair and edit our swing?
There are a few ways, but one of the most powerful ways is through differential practice. An example of this would be to hit 3 shots – one from the toe of the club, one from the heel and then one in-between.
As easy as this sounds, if you have never done this exercise before, you may be shocked at just how little ability you have to actually change your swing. Lots of people are completely unable to move their strike pattern – fine if you are flushing it, but if your pattern is off-centre or you develop a shank mid-round, you are screwed.
I discuss the idea of adaptability and differential practice in detail, as well as offering more drills in my book “The Practice Manual”, which you can purchase from amazon. Click the link below for more details.
But I don’t want to practice change
Some people (and I understand the logic) are resistant to practicing changing things. This is because of the fear that they may screw up their consistency.
Well, I can tell you that (from personal experience, science and thousands of hours of teaching) it just makes you a much better and more consistent golfer. And I actually proved this in a study I did a few years ago (CLICK HERE) to see more. During this study, golfers who were asked to hit different parts of the face were BETTER at striking the sweet spot than golfers which were asked to strike only the centre repeatedly.
Counterintuitive I know – it blew my mind too and started my journey into researching more about learning.
- We are never ‘There’. And if we do get there, it will only be momentarily. No one hits great shots all the time – no one.
- We need to have the ability to balance any issues which occur via adaptability
- we can improve adaptability through the use of differential practice drills – which also