Some coaching is just plain wrong!

This post is going to discuss one of the most important emails I’ve received. It came from Brock (a regular reader) and was in response to this post on cricket. I’m going to add my own thoughts throughout and shed more light on the problems of traditional coaching.

Brock: As a former junior cricketer with a lot of potential and my own wristy style I can certainly relate to being over coached. I made the South Australian Junior State Squad but this is where things got worse.

Cam: Most kids learn in a simple and uncluttered way. They play the game and develop great skills by “hitting the ball”, “catching”, “throwing”, “running” etc. There’s nothing too it and this is learning in its purest form.

Brock: But attempts to remove my wrists left me with no shots and less power resulting in ZERO confidence.

Cam: I hate this and I see more and more of it. A young kid develops a tasty love for a sport by following their passion and playing the game – then, they reach a high level of performance and get picked up to achieve more (and supposedly better) coaching. Any quirky style or skill is beaten out of them – they are forced to follow the system and any deviation from the system is frowned upon. And this is the really stupid bit – their own unique way that got them there in the first place is ruined. Gone. Destroyed. And all because the stupid coach is too dumb to see their genius and too scared to buck the system. I hate this – many kids passion and enthusiasm for sport ruined. Most are lost to the system , fed up and go do something else.

And I see this in all sports. Tennis, AFL, football and golf. And it’s not getting any better. As the technological age advances, coaching is getting more complicated, more contrived and completely over the top. It’s getting worse, not better.

Brock: I’ve recently had a golf lesson with one of Melbourne’s top instructors … and I’ll be damned if he didn’t tell me I was too wristy!!!

Cam: They can’t help themselves! This is just lazy coaching and shows an ignorance to our learning system. What is too wristy anyway? Being told you’re doing something is only a small part of the puzzle. Why can’t “being wristy” be seen as a positive and an entire game built around this trait? Why does it need to be removed?

Brock: Knowing what I know now though I have chosen to walk away from that instructor.

Cam: This is not easy to do. Walking away is Brock’s own way of following his own path, rising up and saying I’m gunna do it my way. This takes courage because going against the grain is definitely not the norm – for the most part, we’re all little conformists at heart. Pesky loves it when you conform because it gives him an excuse when you (ultimately) fail, “It’s not your fault, you did everything that the pro asked of you”.

Brock: Instead, I have made a slight modification to my clubs and am now hitting a consistent slight draw with all my clubs with my old FLAWED swing that needed to be rebuilt from the ground up.

Cam: Nice. He has listened to his guy and doing what feels right to him. Automatic Golf (and the stuff that is written about here) is not about not doing nothing, the goal is for you to stop putting your trust in “the system” and start relying on your own learning machine. Brock also highlights that “your” way is often good enough. Sure, we can spend years (like I did) trying to build the perfect swing and conforming – but it can be wasted time because one day you’ll realise you’ve lost your best golfing years and “your” swing is more than adequate anyway.

Stories like Brock’s are why I write this blog. I want more golfers to stand up and say, “there must be a better way” and “I’m sick of being pushed, prodded and molded into a swing that doesn’t suit me – stuff it! I’m going to start playing the game in a way that truly satisfies me”.

Coaching isn’t about filling up minds with useless tips, thoughts and technical concepts – it must be about allowing the individual to learn, explore and have some fun. When this happens, improvement and success are a natural byproduct. For progress to be made there needs to be a departure from the conforming mindset and this needs to be replaced with a willingness to concede that the individual, no matter how quirky their style, ultimately knows what’s best for them.

I know the classical mindset isn’t going to be changing anytime soon, but with more golfer’s like Brock experiencing the benefits, we can get there one golfer at a time. I’m hoping we can all spread the word and help stop the destruction of golf talent everywhere.

Finally, Brock’s last sentence sums up things nicely;

Cookie cutter solutions from cert 3 coaches don’t work for everyone. Trust your natural game and your instincts and be the best player you can be.

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18 Comments

  • Steady

    Reply Reply February 18, 2013

    Good on ya Brock.
    I see this type of crap everyday. Having to conform and absolutely no
    Room for individual creativity or flare.Stuff that.
    Good to see others of like mindedness.
    People trapped in this thinking say ” if it ain’t broke
    don’t fix it !
    Well I say and plenty others feel the same way
    That the system is broke and needs fixing.
    Steady
    ps don’t be scared to be different.

  • Cam280

    Reply Reply February 18, 2013

    Adam Ghilchrist was considered a pure striker by many!. Didn’t he have a wristy swing?
    Or how about Sri Lanka’s all time wicket taker he was a chucker!.
    Who cares how you do it, as long as you do it in a way that produces confidence and gives you enjoyment and as you say something remarkable!. Something you can talk about over a beer or two at the 19th.
    It all comes down to synchronisation for me!. If I was practicing fundamentals, thats where I would start. The rest of the time im focused on the target, just like throwing darts.

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply February 19, 2013

      Cam280: A little bit of coaching is all that’s needed most of the time. It just knowing what little bit is needed…

      How’s this for some great coaching….

  • James Smith

    Reply Reply February 18, 2013

    It has alway struck me as odd how none of the top coaches of the classical mindset can play a lick; also, how many of golf’s television commentators are failed professional tour players. And yet folks flock to them for advice. It’s like giving a blind man a blind dog. 🙁

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply February 19, 2013

      James: What’s even more astounding is many of these “failed” professionals have been ruined by the system. They’ve been over-coached and lost the plot – but this doesn’t stop them from preaching the same way. It’s absolutely crazy….

  • Grayden Provis

    Reply Reply February 18, 2013

    When the golf industry gets hold of people like Brock it says “if it ‘aint broke, break it!”

  • Cam280

    Reply Reply February 19, 2013

    I found a good way to find good club face alignment regarding wrists. Firstly you will need the assistance of a garden hose, grip the nozzle of the hose however you like and then give it a waggle, you will soon see how the wrists impact on club face alignment. oh yeah you have to turn the hose on so you can see where the water goes!. Depending on the pressure you can have a whippy shaft or whatever?, you do have to imagine your club head though?.

  • Lukey

    Reply Reply February 19, 2013

    Bubba was once interviewed and was asked why he never sought coaching and his comment was short and sweet “why they were only blokes that couldn’t play”.Plus imagine if they got hold of Tommy Two Gloves Gainey he wouldn’t be playing now.
    Cheers Lukey

  • Grayden Provis

    Reply Reply February 19, 2013

    Good point Lukey. I always thought the same if Walter Hagen went for lessons today. They would probably suggest he take up another game. I remember reading that someone who saw him play said it looked like he just “walked into his shots”. I suspect Walter wasn’t really the sort to take too much notice of what others thought of how he played (thank goodness).

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply February 20, 2013

      Most of the great champions had a little more flair about the way they played. Like most sports, golf has gotten far too technical and those who are a bit different tend to stand out for the wrong reasons.

  • James Smith

    Reply Reply February 20, 2013

    It’s all about control, isn’t it? We seem to have this innate hankering be in charge; to control our own destiny; to be the gods of our own little universe. In reality, though, in golf, as well as in life, our conscious selves are just a small part of the system; a single piece of the puzzle; one clog in the wheel of the big wagon; or, as Mongo would say, “just a pawn in the game of life”. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” said Aristotle. Likewise, the game of golf is an entity in itself composed of an infinitesimal number of minute pieces, and when you get right down to it, we as individual golfers don’t constitute a significant portion of that whole. Golf is its own ecosystem. Michael Murphy brings this out so well in his books, “Golf in the Kingdom”, and, “The Kingdom of Shivas Irons”. Two great reads, if anyone hasn’t read them yet. Like any other system, golf works best when all the pieces stay in their place and play their proper roles; subservient to the good of the greater cause. Golf is a world not to be conquered, but rather a force in which to be assimilated. We fit into the big picture best not when we try to play the game, but when we allow the game to play us.

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply February 20, 2013

      We certainly can get carried away with the importance of our own game sometimes. A great exercise is to see yourself looking down on yourself from 40,000 feet – helps put things into perspective.

      The Golf in the Kingdom books certainly paint a different perspective of the game – many may find them a bit mystical, but they’re certainly worth a look. I also notice that the Golf In The Kingdom movie came out last year (or was it 2011?) Here’s the trailer:

  • Brock

    Reply Reply February 20, 2013

    Thanks Cam
    I can get used to being called a genius 😛
    ‘the stupid coach is too dumb to see their genius”

    If anyone is keen to know what the club mods where.
    it was
    A fatter grip on the irons (felt good)
    Shortened the putter by 1/2 inch (felt better)
    and
    Shorterned my driver from 46 inches to a very retro 43.5 (feels natural)
    (P.S.I’m 6 foot tall)
    also my last 2 rounds have come in 8 under handicap (was 18)
    I hit 10 of 14 fairways

    Cheers Guys

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply February 21, 2013

      Brock: I think all young kids have genius potential – pity some coaches/adults get in their way.

      I’ve been using fatter grips for years now – they feel so good. I think every golfer should give them a try. I’m serious, once you use them there is no going back.

      Modern drivers are too long – 46+ inches is crazy. Makes little sense to go that long. Tiger Woods was unbelievable with a short 43in steel shafted driver – he went to a longer graphite (for length) and has never been the same.

      Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing.

      Cameron

  • bob

    Reply Reply February 23, 2013

    im a pga pro 50year member. tell me about , the coaching geting worse!. what about the top tour pros who’ve been screwed up by the gurus. the bullshit is geting worse.what with launch moniters etc its all crap. im a kiwi. your so called high performance academy is screwing them up so is ours. not only that look how michele wee has been fucked up

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply February 23, 2013

      Bob, I agree with you and hear your frustration. I’ve been saying for a while that all the extra information isn’t really helping. Launch monitors, fancy clubs and high speed video, while interesting, still don’t get the ball into the hole.

      Michelle Wie – very sad – I have written about here over here and will do an update soon.

  • bob

    Reply Reply February 23, 2013

    Me again Why has australian golf gon downhill this past 5 years?

    • Cameron

      Reply Reply February 23, 2013

      Bob, here’s some of what I think about golf here;

      – too many coaches
      – over coached from a young age
      – too big a focus on technique rather than on playing the game
      – a reluctance to look outside the PGA system for help
      – too many think we’re doing well (x number of players on the PGA Tour etc)
      – local tournament scene very ordinary
      – a focus on making cut/qualifying/getting card and not on achieving more
      – very slow and outdated governing body
      – terribly poor traineeship system (doesn’t really lead to anything constructive)

      We have some amazing golf courses, very good weather and a sport playing nation – it’s a debacle we don’t dominate golf…

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