After 13 years of teaching players of all skill levels, I have realized the most effective way make a swing change is through slow motion training. Most golfers who come to our academy want to ultimately shoot lower scores. The pathway to lower scores and more consistency is through better technique. The most effective way to change technique is through slow reps.
There has been much scientific research done on how to effectively change a motor developmental skill. After examining all the research, the same conclusions exist; you have to perform the correct motion over and over again. Some research suggests that a golfer needs to perform up to 18 hours of cumulative practice, rehearsing the correct repetition again and again. For example: if you are trying to take the club back on a better plane you need to perform the correct motion of the backswing consistently for up to 18 hours. Seems pretty dramatic but it is true. As soon as you perform the old swing, the time would start again. So my question is this, “Why would anyone try and make a swing change at regular speed and with a golf ball?”
When I am working with clients at the TOUR Academy, I get them to take slow practice swings first away from the ball. Once the client can demonstrate proper technique away from the ball and doing it slowly, then and only then do we add the ball. The golf ball tends to make us retreat back to our “patterns of habit.” When the ball enters the equation we are not as free to exaggerate the change as much as needed. Once the client can demonstrate they can make the correct motion with the ball and on a tee, then we speed it up slowly.
The reality is this, the golf swing takes only on average 2 seconds from start to finish. If you are trying to make a swing change at full speed it will be impossible. Try and do it away from the ball first slow motion, then slightly faster, then a little faster. Add the ball and go slow motion off a tee, then slightly faster, and finally slightly faster. If you really commit to this, you will achieve lasting improvement. The result? Your swing will get better and you will shoot lower scores.
John Stahlschmidt is the Head Instructor at the TOUR Academy TPC Scottsdale.
To comment on this column, email John at firstname.lastname@example.org.