Feel and Real Can Be Two Separate Things

This is a story is share with many of the players I work with.  As a junior golfer I considered my self to be a relatively successful student-athlete. I competed in local, regional, national First Tee competitions, CT Section Junior PGA circuit, was the captain of my high school golf team and accumulated a few W’s and good finishes along the way. I was an absolute golf nut at the time and still probably seem like one to most who come across our lesson tee at Copper Hill. Nonetheless, I armed myself with a myriad of golf instruction books, studied the worlds greatest golfers and at one point was the only player amongst a group of juniors who knew who Steve Elkington, Mac O’ Grady and Jimmy Ballard were (true story). I knew all of the ideal positions the body and club needed to be in and I practiced in a mirror every night.

Since I didn’t have any access to video technology, my mirror became my best friend in practicing all of these “ideal” positions. At the time, I thought my golf swing had to be perfect. I mean…how could it not, I would get out of bed at 1 a.m to practice a swing thought just so I wouldn’t lose the feeling but never really practiced with a ball in front of me.  Well eventually the college recruitment period came and I committed to Post University, a small Division 2 university out of Waterbury,CT.

Realizing that now I would need to elevate my game to compete at the next level, I decided it was time to seek out professional level coaching  who used video technology. I did some research and talked with some of the other great juniors in the area and setup my first session with a professional who would later become one of my most influential teaching mentors.

Upon our first meeting, I am very curious as to what this guy will say about my game. At the time, I figured nothing could be too far off. After all, I’ve read all of the books, clipped out all of my favorite magazine articles, watched tons of Tiger Woods DVDs, and of course practiced in a mirror every day! So the session proceeds, we hit a few balls, take some video and head inside to view it…

 

Fabio_Colon
Really Happening (Left), What I Felt Was Happening (Right)…Very much NOT the same

Nearly no hip rotation, head rotation limiting my shoulder movement, extremely shut club face position and either a faulty mirror or faulty brain!

Unfortunately, this is something that happens to MANY players.  There are multiple factors behind this feel vs. real relationship. Just to name a few, proprioception (body part awareness), myelin sheath development (muscle memory),  faulty target fixation (reacting to ball as opposed to target).

Working with many players both competitive and non-competitive, the most common case I come across is a combination of proprioception and lack of progression.

What this essentially means is that players generally do not practice in a way that allows them to correctly feel what their body parts are actually doing.  Using video is a great form of feedback as you can associate your sensations with a visual. You may actually find yourself exaggerating some sensations to achieve your intent.

The next step is putting it on the ball.  Now that you have created the body awareness of what you are trying to do, there needs to be a progression to get it into the ball. Organize your practice sessions so that you are initially practicing drills and sensations with accurate feedback. Slowly, start to introduce the ball as you go along. Start with a 3:1 ratio of (Drill to Balls Hit), then 2:1 until finally you are able to comfortable put it on the ball consistently.

 

For more ideas on proper feedback or planning practice sessions, shoot me an e-mail at colongolf@pga.com or ask on Twitter @Fab_colon!

 

Let’s Talk Golf!

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