On the practice tee at my school stands twenty students ready and willing to hit balls and improve their swings. They have a huge heart and a desire to get better.
As I pace along the line along the training stations I watch them practice. I can see their minds at work – trying to assimilate new information. It shows on their faces. Some look curious. others seem confused. I see light bulbs go on when one student discovers something in the mind/body connection as though he’s hit a switch. An “aha” moment. On the other end of the range, the lights stay softly dimmed.
As with all instruction, it’s just words in the form of information.
Information: Facts (words) put in a particular sequence to give meaning.
Every person processes information differently. We run it through our personal filters. On my practice tee, there are twenty filters – processing everything I say in exactly twenty different ways. Same Input, twenty very different and diverse variations of output. So how can teaching ever be effective?
I don’t think words and “information” are the best form of teaching.
If I could change the word information I would call it In-Feel-Nation.
The information would be the ability to transfer to someone a new feeling. That was my exact thought when I first witnessed Moe Norman swing at the golf club. When I saw his move, I thought “I just want to feel that one time”. I figured if I could feel it I would learn it. Feeling Moe’s swing became my goal. I believe this thought process is the reason for my success in modeling Moe’s swing.
Work in Reverse. Don’t try to hit the ball like Moe, try to move like Moe.
In my processes of feeling Moe’s swing, Moe would teach me about his swing feelings. They were sometimes confusing and cryptic. Moe would say, “I feel underneath me like a pendulum” or “Buckle, Sit, Slide, Bump”. Moe was being very clear but the problem – the same problem – words. The way I solved this “word” problem was by using video. I figured that to feel what Moe felt, I needed to move like Moe.
If I moved like Moe, I would feel like Moe.
Therefore, to move like Moe I had to find a way to measure whether I was moving like him. I needed to capture video of Moe and of myself and then compare the two. I opened the yellow pages (once called a phone book now called google) and I found a video production company. I asked them what they used to edit VHS videos. They sold me two of their used VHS editing decks. With the two VHS decks, I could attach a television to each one and play Moe’s swing video in one deck and my swing on the other. The decks would allow me to toggle the videos frame-by-frame to compare my movements to Moe’s.
I would practice with Moe, shoot a few videos of his swing and head back to my hotel room to study. When I couldn’t figure out how he moved differently than me, I would ask him the next day.
Using video feedback and Moe as my model I learned to feel what he felt.
Technology can help you feel
The good news is that today, tablets and cell phones make it easy to capture high-quality video of your golf swing movement. Keep in mind, at first, in the swing learning process, the goal is not to hit the ball better – the goal is to feel how Moe moved. The problem is that you need to make sure that you are matching the Moe Norman Model.
If Moe’s lead knee is bent after impact, your lead knee must be bent after impact. If Moe’s backswing is shoulder height, you need to ensure that your swing is only shoulder height. Otherwise, you aren’t feeling Moe’s move. Using video technology can aid your feeling process if you compare it directly to the model.
To change something, you must develop a new sensation
You must welcome new feelings and new results. New feelings mean you are changing. For every new feeling, you are getting a chance to grow and improve. This was the exciting part of my own personal swing building process. I enjoyed watching my swing evolve more than my ball flight. Of course, as my technique improved so did my ball-striking. Working on a new movement is challenging at first but if you let this process keep working, your swing and your ball-striking improve. It’s a win/win.
The best teacher is experienced because experience makes you self-aware.
When you want to learn something new, instead of asking “How can I do that?”, you must ask “How can I feel that?”. This is an important question. Information will inform you but learn to feel it will teach you.