Backwards and Forwards
Just prior to Christmas I had a coaching session with Timbo. What made it interesting was he was in his College dorm room in the USA and I was sitting in my office in Melbourne. Isn’t technology amazing!
Tim needed a pep talk. He was worried about his game and thinking about making some swing changes. This is a side effect of Pesky running the show – he hates you ignoring him and likes to dish up all sorts of advice for you to try. He can be a hard beast to keep quiet, but you really do need to shut him out.
In Timbo’s case he was working on some unnecessary (in my opinion) backswing drills. He was looking into a mirror and working on positioning the club here and there. I call this looking backwards.
Although it seems like a good idea, backwards golf is rarely helpful. Positioning the club and trying to get anything good from it is all but impossible. Why?
Because you’re taking your focus off hitting the ball. You’re getting away from what the game is about. You’re activating your conscious mind and falling for the rookie mistake: that you can think your way out of a swing issue.
You can’t. So what’s the solution?
In Timbo’s case I told him to forget about mirror work and take his practice session to the range. Instead of looking backwards, he needed to fix his gaze forwards – to hit the ball and try different shots.
– hit the ball low
– hit it high
– curve the ball left to right
– bend it back to the left
– and try all sorts of combinations
When Tim learns to hit all of these shots his backswing will take care of itself. He will have explored the full gamut of positions and learning will take place. It’s not always obvious, but improvement will be there. How does this happen?
It’s simple – when you’re able to hit a variety of shots your swing is close to perfect. It’s natural learning and sorta how we do almost all other skills. The tough part is realising you can do it without a lot of conscious thought. The really hard part is getting off the couch and giving it a go.
Looking forwards takes some trust and Pesky will hate you for it (he can be a little shit and will be screaming for your attention) but you’ve gotta be strong and keep going. You’ve got to keep ignoring him. You’ve got to be brave.
On the golf course, the equivalent of looking backwards is worrying about your swing and score (or some other garbage). Looking forwards is asking yourself,
How far is it and what club do I need?
And then swinging like there’s no tomorrow.
Footnote: If you’d be interested in some conversational coaching via the Internet then let me know. Contact me here.