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Understanding the Steps to Permanent Change

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Understanding the Steps to Permanent Change

“You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks!” A very outdated and untrue adage because old dogs are getting younger every day thanks to trying new tricks!

However, isn’t it curious how the process often goes?

A golfing buddy recommends a new nugget of game improvement advice, guaranteed to cure your slice. You attempt the prescribed fix and amazingly hit a perfect drive! Thoughts of setting the new course record tantalize your senses until…your slice returns just as quickly as it had seemingly fallen off the radar.

Change at every level of ability whether it’s about the grip or swing path, follows a similar footprint. There has to be an all in, buy in that change must occur for growth and improvement. The student must embrace the process of growth through struggle for long term gain.

Accepting that struggle for a brief period is inevitable so as to achieve greater skills, both physically and mentally for better performance, is a Pro’s Secret. Otherwise the tendency is for the Golfer trying desperately to improve becomes frustrated to the point of resorting back to what is comfortable and well known even if it is hurting their game. What is at the core of this struggle and frustration? Ego. A fear of embarrassment and judgment, and sense of losing control.

“Science has proven that talent grows eight to ten times faster when deep practice creates struggle.” ~Daniel Coyle, author, The Talent Code

The struggle is the “tug of war” that results from the need to let go of the old paradigm that causes the continual slicing and struggling to accept the new thoughts and feelings long enough to become comfortable and conditioned.

The process of change has four distinct stages:

Unconscious Incompetent. The golfer’s performance is faulty without a clue. This is the easy stage, ignorance is bliss so there is very little expectation. Conscious Incompetent. The golfer is now aware of what causes the faulty shot execution. Video and launch monitor statistics are excellent tools to assist in the awareness process along with concise explanation and instructor or model demonstration. Understanding what they are doing wrong and why they do what they do, is crucial to making change. For instance, if the golfer played hockey or base ball, there are conditioned habits affecting how the swing is made. Even a new player has what I call the natural golfer tendencies. Even after four decades of playing and teaching golf, I have yet to see someone play this game well “naturally”. Because the “natural” tendencies for all novices is quite the opposite to the fundamentals and science of a repeatable swing. “Natural” is to grip weak in the left hand strong in the right, lifting of the club, a body tilt followed by a fast throw of the club from the top in a reckless attempt to hit the ball. Whiff or top shots at best as the golfer falls back and out of balance. That is my depiction of the “natural” golfer.

Just knowing what you are doing wrong certainly doesn’t guarantee that you will change your habit to now doing it correctly, and thus the reason for the next stage where the fun begins because the seeds of new habit are planted.

Conscious Competent. The student has gone through awareness and now begins the process of learning the correct technique. Through several purposeful drill repetitions the student begins to condition the new feelings and when done correctly they can execute in better balance and momentum demonstrating much improved ball flight. Remaining conscious of what it is that they desire to condition as their new habit must continue for hundreds of intentional repetitions before it forms a strongly conditioned habit that will eventually be performed unconsciously.

Unconscious Competent. It’s not a matter of time, but putting energy into doing things a certain way that develops a conditioned new paradigm that can be done unconsciously. At this point, the student is a master of the desired technique! Continual conscious practice will maintain the solid fundamentals of a correctly executed and repeatable swing and allow the player to perform unconsciously on the range and on the course.

Understanding the power of this four stage process will provide a clearer path for faster results be it golf, business or life.

Until next time…Happy Golfing!

Brad Brewer

Learn more about what successful people do in a certain way!

Brad Brewer

A Top 100 Teacher by Golf Magazine and PGA class-A Professional, Brad successfully competed on the Austral-Asian PGA Tour and Hogan/Nike Tours, developed the training curriculum for high-performance juniors at Saddlebrooke Preparatory and applies these experiences to his teaching and coaching at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando. Brad was awarded the North Florida PGA Teacher of the Year and Junior Golf Leader of the Year, Edwin Watts Golf Top Instructor Award, along with the honor of Top 50 Instructor in Florida by Golf Digest.

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