Willingness (part 2) – How do you see yourself?

I love to teach. Wait. This isn’t completely true.

I love to teach students who are willing to learn. Hold on. That isn’t absolutely true either.

I love to teach students who are willing to do whatever it takes to get better. Ok, I love to teach everyone but this is where I see have the most success.

The students that are willing to make sacrifices in their golf games and their lives to improve are the easiest to teach – and they make progress faster than any other group. I’ve learned that real and lasting improvement is a mindset. Students who develop this mindset are more likely to succeed. It’s worth looking at this group to learn from them and how they improve so rapidly. Here is what these students have in common.

They build a plan to build a swing.

Willing students have a game plan. They strategize. This includes having Moe as their model and getting coaching and feedback to help navigate their plans. This reduces wasted time.

They love the process.

Willing students have a game plan. They strategize. This includes having Moe as their model and getting coaching and feedback to help navigate their plans. This reduces wasted time.

They pursue technique perfection, not scores.

Of course, scores are important but hey are a result of great processes. Good golf swings increase the opportunity to hit better shots. Nobody is perfect and good golf swings also increase the bad shots being statistically better.

Details Matter.

To the willing student, the little things matter. Starting at the address position, they pay attention to the details knowing that the specific details are the key to perfection.

They realize that they can always be better, that the process is never complete.

This is hard for students to accept.  That the process is a lifestyle. Swing purity is a gradual artistic process. When you reach a new milestone, you are able to reach for the next one. This is what I experienced. Every time my technique improved, I was able to reach another level of competence. One example of this is speed and distance. As my technique improved I was able to speed it up. Refining the technique allowed me to speed up the movement.

They are willing to get “worse” to get better.

When students say “I’m getting worse” they almost always refer to results of their ball-striking. When you are building a golf swing, the swing is all that matters and results are what is visible in the technique, not in ball flight. As long as your technique is improving progress is being made. You might actually hit the ball “worse” at first but willing students know that pure technique will result in ideal results once the technique matches the model.

There are no time limitations.

So many students say “How long is this going to take?” I call it the unanswerable question. I usually answer it as “How much time would you give your child to learn to walk? “.  Can you imagine after a few weeks of falling down you say “We’ll kid; you’re going to have to crawl your entire life”. Learning anything is a process. It takes dedication, grit, and commitment. Quitting cannot be an option.

Finally, I want to summarize this blog with a story from Daniel Coyle’s book “The Talent Code”. In Coyle’s groundbreaking book, he tells of a study about kids who were learning to play the clarinet. To summarize, in 1997 Gary McPherson studied why some students progressed faster than others. He started analyzing data such as math skills, income levels, and IQ. What he discovered was that none of these factors mattered. Then he started asking a question. The question was:

“How long do you think you’ll play your new instrument?” The answers were condensed into three categories, Short-Term, Medium-Term and Long-Term Commitments. Then he measured how much each child practiced per week.

What he discovered what that the Long Term committed students practiced more.  This meant that as McPherson put it a “tiny idea” determined the students’ progress. The idea that they planned to make a Long-Term commitment and practiced – their skills skyrocketed.

McPherson concluded that students’ progress is a “Perception of Self”.



4 comments on “Willingness (part 2) – How do you see yourself?”
  1. Bruce Kelso says:

    Fortunately, I didn’t really go through the “getting worse before getting better” scenario. For me, everything just got easier, but only because I practiced the positions with the swing trainer every day. I also have lines taped to the floor for the positions and mirrors forward and down the line for feedback. I do at least 20 reps and as many as 50 reps before going to work each day. I concentrate on the most important areas; grip address and impact position. And when I play on the weekends I usually don’t hit many balls, but spend more time on the practice green chipping and putting. I’ve had 8 rounds in the 60’s this year, which is more than I’ve ever had in my life.

    One area I would like to see more on is pre-shot routine and lining up for shots unless there is already something on the website or seminars. I have a tendency to start aiming too far right, which I’m slowly overcoming.

    I’m certainly willing.

    You guys are awesome.


    1. Todd Graves says:

      Thanks Bruce. I have done various “pre-shot” routine seminars. Some are posted in the Single Plane Academy. I did one for the recent Driver Masterclass. Have you seen my Red Zone / Green Zone routine? If you can’t find it let me know and I will locate where you can view it. Thanks.


  2. Dave Kempema says:

    I love hearing about learning a golf swing compared the learning a musical insturment. My wife was a piano teacher most of her life. It was interesting for me to listen to the rate of progress of each student. It use to frustrate her so much when students would not practice or did so very little. The students that practice the most did so because they wanted to and were interested only in the long term commintment. They just love to play. The ones that gave up quickly or practiced very little was because they want instant results. They are not interested in the process of learning.
    It makes me question what some of our true motives are for learning a repeatable and effective golf swing. Is it to make an impression on our freinds? Is it the prideful feeling of learning to do something well that most other people cannot? Or is it because we have a passion to develope a skill as only a personal challenge. To be the best that we can possibly be at something we love to do.To do even privatly all by ourselves.
    After reading biographys about Moe, I think that was his passion. He seemed to love to just hit balls all day even more than he loved playing rounds of golf. I think that is the only way someone can spend 6 years of their life hitting a 1000 balls a day. Thats what he did. At least as it is written about him. He was content to live out of his car and motel rooms most of his life. Hitting golf balls was his greatest joy of activity. When he did exhibitions he could sound very boastful but I what I think he was really doing is wanting to share the joy he felt inside of accomplishing something very difficult to a level of excellence .Maybe thats what he meant by what he called his feeling of greatness. Not just for recognition.
    My daughter started learning piano at age 6 and went through college on a keyboard scholarship. At 41 she now plays piano in her church praise band as well as solo play and produced a cd only to give away to people going through difficult times. She still practices and practices because she just loves to play and share her gift of music.
    Thats what should motivate us to practice . A never ending pursuit of excellence because we just love to play.


    1. Todd Graves says:

      Yes. The love of the game. The love of the pursuit of perfection. That is why we are always a “work in progress”, never complete but always striving to be better. Thanks for the comments.


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