Have you had a golf lesson but your faults keep coming back? Have you been frustrated by a lack of long term improvement in your golf? Do you get bogged down by too many swing thoughts? Do you want that ultimate swing which requires no technical thought?
I spend most of my time teaching people how to swing the golf club. But getting the club into the correct positions during a lesson does not necessarily guarantee an improved golf swing and shot pattern on the golf course.
I believe that to change a golf swing permanently a golfer needs to commit to a 6 stage process:
Stage 1 – Discovery of fault. Through video analysis of their swing, compared to a model that is of a similar build and height. This stage is to show the golfer where they need to improve. This stage can be strange at first because what people feel that they are doing and what they see on video can seem worlds apart.
Stage 2 – Feeling the correct swing positions. This can be done via swing drills/training aids or simply by an instructor moving the golfer into the correct positions. These new positions will probably feel strange to the golfer, so I find it useful to film the golfer putting the club into the correct positions therefore despite the new positions feeling awkward the golfer knows the positions are correct and can then commit to the changes with confidence.
Stage 3 – The Elastic Band Theory. Now that the golfer knows what the new position looks and feels like, they have to put it into practice. All too often a golfer will not exaggerate the new position enough when hitting balls. The Elastic Band Theory is based around the fact that if you stretch an elastic band and then let it go, it will then return to a size bigger than it was originally. This stage requires the golfer to stretch their swing changes to the max, almost doing the opposite move. For example, if a golfer has been swinging 6 degrees to the left they should practice swinging 6 degrees to the right. Over time this exaggerated practice will gradually correct the habitual swing fault.
Stage 4 – Supervised practice. Now the golfer needs to hit balls using the Elastic Band Theory. This stage is ideally done whilst being supervised by an instructor. To ensure the new swing is being correctly applied. At this stage, the results may not be consistent but this is because the swing is being changed. Regular feedback is crucial at this stage and must be with an instructor present.
Stage 5 - Variation. Once the new swing positions have been practiced and the swing/shots are beginning to improve. The new skill needs to be performed in different situations. Such as, hitting to a target, mixing up the clubs used and trying to hit different trajectories of shot.
Stage 6 – Automatic. This stage is what all golfers strive for. The swing changes have been practiced and they now happen automatically without any conscious thought.
There are no specific time frames for these stages. But it is essential that all stages are passed through for the new skill to be reliable.
I have helped many golfers, of all levels, through these stages. Here are my tips for success:
Ask questions. If you do not fully understand what your instructor is trying to change and why. You will not commit to it.
When initially making the changes, slow it down! Make lots of slow-motion swings. When we change a motor programme (the golf swing) we need create different neural pathways from our brain to our hands & arms. These pathways are created quicker using slow-motion swings.
Forget the target when making the initial changes. Put 100% of your efforts into making the swing changes. The ball flight will improve when you get used to the changes.
If you are making more than 1 swing change. Split them up. Focus 100% of your energy on 1 swing position at a time. Split your practice session and then try and blend them together.
Don't spend more than 45 minutes, at a time, practicing a new swing position. Take plenty of breaks.
Have more practice swings than shots in the early stages.
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