The Devil is in the Details

Some golfers are great at hitting the long ball.  Others rely on their chipping and short game.

My specialty is slicing the ball deep into the woods with almost any club in my bag.

I own golf clubs but I am not a golfer. 

Every year I go on a trip to Michigan with a bunch of friends for some golfing and fun.

A few years ago I was having the type of outing you’d expect me to have given the information above.   The guys in my group were determined to ‘fix my swing.’  Over the past 6-8 holes I had received tips on foot placement, hand placement, hip movement, backswing, follow through, etc.  

It was getting a bit much, but I was determined to put it all into practice.   As I set myself up in the tee box I tried to remember what I’d been taught. 

I was focused and determined to blast the ball so far and straight that my friends would gasp with amazement.  

Instead I heard laughter.

The guys in my group were watching me try to run through the massive mental checklist they had given me.  I was getting my feet just right, then moving them to a better spot.  I was doing the same with my hands on the club. 

What they saw was my brain melting with cues.  I don’t blame them for laughing, it felt hilariously frustrating.

I had become so focussed on trying to perform every step in the sequence that it became almost impossible to start the movement of swinging the club naturally. 

What I needed at that moment was simplicity from my coaches, not a Masterclass.   What ended up working for me was to pick one or two things to focus on every time I swung the club.   

For me it was foot placement and not looking up from the ball.

The big picture slowly and marginally improved with each swing.

I use this example in my Two Brain Coaching mentor calls a lot.  We teach a lot of complicated movement in our gyms and can easily frustrate our athletes with an overload of information.

Teaching a Power Clean can come with a lot of information – first pull, second pull, triple extension, driving the elbows around the bar, the catch…… 

It all happens in about the same time as a golf swing and comes with the same amount of cues to make it perfect.  

We can cue athletes into being overwhelmed by the big picture on the Olympic lifts instead of picking glaring faults and making that part of the movement better.  

As an example, today my OLY class got better at catching their Cleans by starting from the hang and visualizing themselves shooting lasers out of their elbows at the wall in front of them as fast as possible (sound effects were optional but encouraged). 

Fast elbows make for a better catch.  A better catch means a better Clean. 

Picking one or two cues for each client to focus on each time they revisit that movement will lead to better performance of the big picture – without melting anyone’s brain.

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