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Do People Really Get Better In The Winter?

Do People Really Get Better in the Winter?
It depends, would be my answer. I have seen people get worse in the winter, and I have seen people get better. What it depends on is WHAT, HOW, and WHY they practice.
Let’s start with the WHAT they practice; WHAT is crucial. If a player is just hitting balls, then WHAT they are practicing is what they have always practiced. Einstein’s definition of insanity is to continue to do the same things and expect different results. A player should not expect any improvement if all they are doing when going to the dome is hitting balls the way they have always done, and some people actually get worse. When players get worse, it is either what they are practicing or how they are practicing.

If what a player is practicing is the wrong thing for that individual, then the time they put in will make them a worse player. Conversely, when a player has an individual plan laid out for them by a qualified instructor they will get better. The key is having the right plan, then executing the steps in order.  We break the golf swing down into six major steps. I like to refer to the steps as a swing chain. Supporting the idea that the golf swing is a sequence of movements broken down into six links. Any chain can only be as strong or good as the previous link. The links that make up the swing chain are Set-Up, (G.A.P.S. - Grip, Aim, Posture, and Stance.), Takeaway, Completion of backswing, Transition to downswing, Impact and Finish. It does no one any good to work out of order on their swing chain. For example, if a player is trying to stop flipping the club at impact while they are opening the face too much during the takeaway, they simply will not get better. It takes a good plan for players to get better.

HOW players get better is to have their personalized plan organized in the right order over a period of time, which is afforded during the off season by practicing correctly in the dome. One of the best lessons I have learned over the last 35 years I have taught professionally, is to not give too much information or ask a student to try to do too many things in one swing. Actually, anything more than one is too many. From the time a player takes the club back, until impact, takes one second. NOBODY can apply two thoughts effectively before the club hits the ball. One of our teaching rules at Impact Golf is “No more than one thought for one swing.”

Pre-swing (set-up) a player can think more than one thought because the set-up is a process that takes a player 12-15 seconds. A player could effectively work on their grip, then aiming, while setting the clubface squarely on the target line, by tilting forward at the hips in the proper playing posture. Finally, taking their stance the correct distance from the ball. At the end of a well-organized lesson, a player may leave with multiple things in their set-up routine to accomplish, but only have one thing during the swing. Bottom line; keep it simple.

The WHY some players get better, while others don’t is just as important as the WHAT and HOW. When you learn any pattern of movements, it takes conscious effort. After the pattern is repeated enough times, it becomes a sub-conscious action…for better or worse. An example would be learning to drive a manual transmission. After enough conscious repetitions, a person is able to accomplish the same task without thinking about it consciously, because their subconscious is able to override their conscious.

The highest level of performance is when a player learns a proper pattern of movements, repeated enough times correctly, to trust the pattern and allow the subconscious to perform the task, especially under pressure.

It is far easier to start with a clean slate, learn the correct pattern of movements, and ingrain the pattern through repetition. That is why it is easier to take a new player and work with them, ingraining good fundamentals, rather than un-learning the bad habits of an established player. Point…quality instruction for a new player at the beginning will be much more valuable than instruction after the initial habits are ingrained.

For those established players who tried to learn on their own, or in some cases even got the wrong information, whatever the source, they can still surely learn. If a player has some bad habits, they need a plan organized to effectively break OLD bad habits and replace them with new.

The reason the dome affords players that opportunity is because for most people getting off the golf course and into the dome affords them the time and environment to not only replace old habits with new ones, but ingrain them in the subconscious as well.

Something I have learned and experienced in the dome, is that when you take the total flight of the ball away from the person, they are able to become more aware of what their body and club are doing during the swing. When outdoors, people are often distracted by the flight of the ball, which in effect, slows down the improvement process.

​With the right plan (WHAT), organized in the correct order (HOW), implemented at the proper time and sequence (WHY), this off-season can be the one where you improve your golf game.

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Todd Sones