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Get better faster with a tight feedback loop

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Getting an opportunity to work on a launch monitor can be enjoyable, confusing, helpful, overwhelming and invaluable all at the same time. In my limited time and experience with my launch monitor (I have a Trackman), I’ve quickly learned if I make things very simple, it becomes a very effective tool.

Learning quickly comes from various different methods, one of these methods is a tight feedback loop: Do something, measure, analyze, correct and repeat. The more of these loops you can fit into a practice session the quicker you can develop feel and understanding of the change. Let’s use club path as a simple example.

One of the most valuable functions of Trackman and FlightScope launch monitors is that they place a numerical values on the movement of the club. Here’s a look at one of those numbers.

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The positive number means the club head is traveling to the right of the target 1.5 degrees at the moment of impact. This is not the word-for-word definition, but you get the gist.

Lets say we embark on a drill to get your club path moving to the left of the target at impact. The number on the screen you want to see would be something like this.

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A change this big will feel weird and unnatural, but that’s the point. This process of change is accelerated using a tight feedback loop. Do something, measure, analyze, correct and repeat.

Changing the number on the screen almost becomes a bit of the game. Maybe the first swing moves the number to 0.5 degrees; the next gives you -1 — you get the picture. You are actively exploring a change in your golf swing and watching the number gives you the feedback to know you are doing something different from swing to swing.

Some of you may be thinking: What should I do to get that number to move from positive to negative? With Doppler radar launch monitors like Trackman and Flightscope, I think it’s a good idea to let people experiment a little and find out for themselves. How would you change the path? I’ll always be there for a helping hand or guidance, but a little exploration is good.

Have you ever been faced with a difficult question or problem, put in the work and found the answer after some deliberate thought? When you find the answer, you own the answer because of the struggle and effort you put in to get it. It’s no different here.

If you’re more of a visual learner, Trackman and Flightscope use images to display path in different ways from different perspectives. All these forms of feedback can aid in understanding and accomplishing your goal of change.

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Each swing returns a club-path number and you’ll begin to match the number to a feel. Making the feel your own and understanding that feel makes you more aware and helps quicken the improvement process.

When practicing with a Trackman or Flightscope, you can create even more deliberate practice by creating little challenges that will help you achieve your goal. Staying with the above example, try to hit five consecutive practice balls where the club-path number is negative or to the left. If you miss on one of the shots you’ve got to start over — an example of immediate feedback and purposeful practice.

I like to find anything and everything that helps me understand the process of change and learning. The books and articles I find valuable I like to share, because if they help me maybe they can help you as well. In Daniel Coyle’s book “The Little Book of Talent,” he talks about the process of getting better.

In our busy lives, it’s sometimes tempting to regard merely practicing as a success. We complete the appointed hour and sigh victoriously — mission accomplished! But the real goal isn’t practice, it’s progress. As John Wooden put it, “Never mistake mere activity for accomplishment.”

One useful method is to set a daily SAP: smallest achievable perfection. In this technique, you pick a single chunk that you can perfect — not just improve, not just “work on,” but get it 100 percent correct consistently. For example, a tennis player might choose the service toss; a salesperson might choose the 20-second pitch he’ll make to an important client. The point is to take the time to aim at a small, defined target and then put all your effort toward hitting it.

After all, you aren’t built to be transformed in a single day. You are built to improve little by little, connection by connection, rep by rep. As Wooden also said, “Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens — and when it happens, it lasts.”

This pairs up nicely with what I’ve talked about above. Find a little chunk of your golf swing and try to perfect that one thing. As you make small improvements over time, your golf swing slowly becomes more efficient.

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Rob earned a business degree from the University of Washington. He turned professional in June of 1999 and played most mini tours, as well as the Australian Tour, Canadian Tour, Asian Tour, European Tour and the PGA Tour. He writes for GolfWRX to share what he's learned and continues to learn about a game that's given him so much. www.robrashell.com Google Plus Director of Instruction at TOURAcademy TPC Scottsdale www.touracademy.com

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. getitclose

    Feb 16, 2014 at 10:28 am

    I’ll second the above comment. Last year I decided I wanted to be better than the average joe, started buying books and watching the “how-to’s” on the internet. Which can be good, if you work on one or two things at a time. I got overwhelmed, and actually got worse because I was over analyzing everything. Bottom line; simplify.

    Great article. Bravo

    • Rob Rashell

      Feb 17, 2014 at 10:40 am

      getitclose,

      I’ve always been amazed by how making one thing really great in your golf swing also improves other pieces as well, without even trying. Thanks!

  2. Dave

    Feb 16, 2014 at 6:52 am

    Truly a great article. Learning how to learn is key to being able to learn. My teacher also has me “figure things out myself” instead of just talking at me, really helps to own it. I am going to book mark this article I thought so much of it.

    Thank you

    • Rob Rashell

      Feb 17, 2014 at 10:38 am

      Hi Dave, thanks for the thoughts, all the best with your golf!

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Instruction

Kelley: Should a Tour player’s swing be the pattern we copy?

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PGA Tour players are the most gifted golfers on the planet. Their ball striking ability is remarkable to the average, even scratch, golfer. With the time to practice all day, usually perfecting their imperfections in their own swings, why are PGA Tour players’ swings always the model we seek?

Look at the progression and expectations in other sports played recreationally. If you start playing Tennis, you don’t expect to serve as fast and accurate as Rafael Nadal. When joining a gym, do we look and replicate the times and bodies of Olympians? However, in golf, players seek the worlds best trying to emulate them. Examining this idea, could this actually be detrimental?

Let’s start with the speed differential. The average PGA Tour driver club head speed is 113 mph. The average male amateur golfer driver speed is 93.4 mph. The average handicap for the male golfer sits between 14 and 15. Below is a chart from Trackman showing the distribution of clubhead speed among male golfers.

*Trackman research shows there is a direct correlation between clubhead speed and handicap.

Speed is mostly a natural talent developed at an early age. It can be enhanced with speed training, gym work and even lifestyle changes. ?With such a differential in speed?, wouldn’t players first be better served focusing on center contact with the most efficient route to do so? This can include modeling simple looking swings.

Besides the speed differential, the world’s best golfers all have unique swings that have been perfected over time. Take for example the top ten players in the world. Different swings with different match-up moves throughout the motion. They have made it work for themselves with countless practice hours. Usually time the average golfer doesn’t have.

A main example would be Rory McIlroy, often a sought out golf swing among students. Here is a quote regarding his swing swing sequence after visiting the Titleist Performance Institute Center. “At the start of McIlroy’s downswing, his left hip spins violently counterclockwise, as it does for every elite, long-hitting player. but then, and only with the driver, Mcllroy makes a funky move you could not teach. a moment before impact, his left hip suddenly changes direction and jerks back, clockwise, and then rotates again.”

With the average golfer on a time constraint?, golfers could actually look at what the greats do the older they get in their careers. The swings become more simple, using their instincts to get their body in efficient and more teachable positions. This is usually in their set-up then backswing, with less excess movement for an efficient strike. Take for example a young versus older Ben Hogan. (Picture below)

Below is another example of a young Jack Nicklaus compared to an older Nicklaus later in his career.

This is in large part due to the concept that less can be more at times. Unfortunately in golf, all to often players are told to do more with their swing, only to jeopardize center contact even seeking vanity over function.

A concept that could be beneficial is next time you want to work on your swing, focus on efficiency and minimizing the ?motion for center contact and a better face/path relationship. Then you can build. Rather then taking a bit from a Tour player’s swing, understand how your body should move to achieve your desired ball flight. Once you have a foundation, then add speed and your own DNA to the swing.

The argument could be made the opposite should be taught for aspiring junior golfers, especially the way the game as going. This article is intended to open a discussion and perhaps change the view of how the golf swing is being taught based on your skill-set and what you are trying to get out of the game. Also, what may be teachable and not teachable. You can change swings with concepts alone.

www.kelleygolf.com

Twitter: @Kkelley_golf 

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Clement: Why laying up = more power

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You have been there before — you can’t get over the hazard on a par 5 and decide to lay up and take the club you need for the distance and the ball makes it into the hazard after you took this smooth swing that smoked the ball 15 yards farther than you expected? We uncover the mystery right here!

 

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Kelley: Simplify your swing with the hammer drill

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Regardless of your handicap, a simple hammer can teach you how to efficiently address the ball, start the swing and then put your body in a dynamic position at the top. If you can hammer a nail, there is no reason you can’t simplify your swing. This drill can also change the parts in the middle of your swing you have been struggling to change.

To start, grab a hammer with your trail hand as if you are hammering a nail into a wall in front of your body. You will notice how this instinctively gives you a slight tuck of the trail elbow and drops your trail shoulder below the lead with angle in the trail wrist.

Once gripping the hammer, move the weight of the hammer as if hammering a nail. This will give you the feel of the takeaway.

From here, the golf swing is no more then a lifting of the arms as the right arm folds and the body goes around a bit.

From this position, holding your spine angle and placing the left hand on the right hand will pull your body into a coil or “turn”. This places your body in a position to efficiently swing the golf club back down to the ball.

A great way to combine the hammer drill with a golf club is to hold a hammer on the grip of the club or tape the hammer down the middle of the shaft. Start with just your right hand on the club and make slow swings.

Once you have practiced this a few times, the hammer can be removed and this feel can be integrated to a normal golf club. To continue this feel, simply turn the clubhead in as if you are hitting the ball with the toe of the club (below picture). When turning the club like this, the center of balance goes more to the clubhead, helping replicate the actual hammer feel.

What’s great about this drill is that the actual task is driving the technique. Rather than being thoughtful of several technical positions in the golf swing, replicating the instinctive motion of the hammer will put you in the proper positions. This drill will also help you place your focus of attention on the actual club, which is often overlooked.

www.kelvinkelley.com

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