“One in a row is not a streak”
The biggest mistake players make when taking a lesson or trying to make swing changes on their own, is to try something once and say “Well, that didn’t work, what next?” One ball is not enough to make a statistical analysis. You never hear a sportscaster say, “And the winning streak continues at one in row!”
When we come out of video or FlightScope analysis I always remind the student we are never going to make an assessment on what we are doing on the first swing, good or bad. If we are making significant setup changes to get a player to match their setup to their body build then it is going to take 6-10 swings to get comfortable with that alone. So I tell them that I don’t care where the ball goes on the first 15 swings and I need them to not care also. Just setup the way we discussed and try to make the change in the swing pattern we identified. Usually after about five swings they hit a really nice shot! That is where I throw them the “one in a row” quote and they dig in and give me another good move. I would love to have 100 swings to assess if you can repeatedly do it. Time limits what we can do so normally it is 15 shots and we know if we need to tweak the information or the drills to get it just right.
So the moral is to be patient and give yourself enough chances to make the right swing.
“Get in your hallway”
This actually started away from the golf course and I adapted it to my players’ pre-shot routines to help them focus tightly on where they wanted to ball to go.
I got this idea when my daughter was competitive cheerleading when she was 7-10 years old. She was one of the “flyers,” which is the athlete that runs across the floor doing all the flips and twists through the air. One day I was watching her practice and she could not nail the five moves she had to make in the 60 feet of space during the routine. So during a break I walked over and took her to the corner of the floor where she began her tumbling run. She explained that her problem was everyone else flying by in front of her eyes before she took off was distracting her. That is where I came up with the hallway analogy. I told her to imagine that there was a hallway across the floor to where she finished and that she was to only see the hallway and stay in it. In her mind she only say herself going down that narrow lane to the other corner doing her stunts. It worked, she nailed it the next time they ran through the routine.
So in golf I tell my players the same thing. When you are standing behind the ball get in your hallway. There is nothing outside the hallway. You see your ball flying between the walls of your hallway to your target and NOTHING else. When you can do that, then you walk into the shot and fire. This is how as a Tour player we see nothing going on around us. When I had a gallery to play a shot through I never saw them because they were outside of my hallway. So try to get in your narrow corridor, visualize the ball staying between those walls, and be confident in your swing to hit it down the hallway.
“If I don’t have time to say it, you don’t have time to think it”
This one is for all the players who can hit a basket of 60 balls in 20 minutes. Your practice pattern is that of rapid fire swings. One ball has barely left the club and the next one is ready to launch. If I cannot verbally give you instructions between shots before the next ball is airborne, then you never had a chance to run those same thoughts through your brain and body, process them, and then produce a solid swing or work correctly on the move we are trying to make. I solve this player by controlling access to the practice balls. I might move them away from where we are working or I might actually hold them and toss them to the student once they have taken a few practice swings or understand the message I am conveying to them.
So when you practice take your time. Treat each ball like a valuable object that is to be hit only when you are perfectly ready to hit it. Clearly run the thoughts from your coach through your head and think and feel them before putting a swing on the ball.