Out there in the golf coaching literature, we can read about countless golf swing fundamentals, swing theories, secrets, magic moves, revolutionary discoveries and 'proven' new methods. It's so easy to become fixated on our swing plane, swing speed, compression ability, or the latest swing theory. And our brains can become awash with golf tips.
Mostly, we're just confused and frustrated by it all - how can they all be right? And so many seem to contradict each other... We need a way out - a way to extricate ourselves from the swing theory quagmire. Treating the golf swing more simply - as a small number of big movement skills - is our escape route.
Just four major movements make up an effective golf swing:
By focusing on these four major movement skills, we can set about swing improvement with uncluttered brains. Our powerful skill-learning systems will be unrestrained - liberated to do their important work. Importantly, there's one further skill - a controlling mental skill - without which we will struggle:
These five key skills are our route to achieving the best golf swing we're capable of. And the good news is that it's not just the scientifically proven way - it's also the simplest way. It's strange, but the power and complexity of modern science has told us that the best way to develop a good swing is the least scientific way!
We know a huge amount about human skill learning, especially in relation to sports performance. Educators apply this knowledge in physical education classes, to ensure that children develop sound fundamental motor skills - to prepare them for sport and 'life'. And coaches in many sports apply it to athletes of all levels to maximise performance. Unfortunately for us, it seems to have largely bypassed the golf swing. Maybe that's why the average golf score remains stubbornly at around 100 - no change from a generation ago!
We also know far more about golf swing mechanics than ever before. But unfortunately it's never presented in a way the human brain can digest. As the golf swing becomes more complex, our brains become more confused. We struggle when we try to copy countless positions - 'thinking' our way through the swing. This has only one effect - we overload our brains with too much information and our swings never develop to their full potential.
Have you ever wondered why we find the golf swing so difficult? And have you also wondered why, once we've acquired a good basic swing, progress suddenly stops and we find ourselves on a 'learning plateau'? If you're an expert golfer, does it frustrate you that there are always people more expert than you? And have you maybe read an instruction book and wondered how it's humanly possible to replicate 200 pages of positions in just a little over one second?
Most of us grapple with these conundrums, and we often turn to instruction books and articles. The best golf instruction books are well known and they do a great job of describing swing mechanics - after reading them, we know exactly what the 'perfect golf swing' looks like. And that's our big problem! We know everything about what the swing looks like, but nothing about how to do it.
The Golf Swing bridges this gap - it connects 'knowing about' with 'how to do'. It takes the science of golf swing mechanics and overlays it with the missing link - the science of human skill learning. And remarkably, it reveals that the best way to improve a golf swing is actually the simplest way - the least scientific way.
The main problem we need to overcome is our brains. Our brains can only handle one or two thoughts at a time, so when we approach the golf swing as an endless list of positions, we immediately overwhelm our information processing capacity. We have a hundred things to think about, but a brain that can only handle a few. Specifically, we engage the wrong part of our brains - the thinking part - but unfortunately, it's just not designed for this job.
It's strange that we try to think our way through the golf swing. Walking is just as complex a skill, yet we mastered it without knowing anything about walking mechanics. The same goes for bike riding and shoelace tying - and thousands of other physical skills. We don't have complex theories or manuals of how to walk - but we learn it perfectly. And the interesting thing is - once we've mastered a skill, we have no idea how we actually do it. We 'just do it'. We could forensically analyse walking into a thousand movements - but it wouldn't help us. In fact - and this is where we go wrong with the golf swing - it stops us learning!
Current approaches to golf swing improvement are directly opposed to how humans learn physical skills. We do have powerful, innate, skill-learning systems, which will deliver a great golf swing, but treating the swing as an endless list of positions unfortunately stifles them. These systems - called 'implicit learning' systems - are our route to better golf swings, so we need to give them more freedom to operate. And the most important quality of our implicit learning systems is that they thrive on simplicity - we need a simple approach to learning the golf swing.
‘Pure, simplified golf principles that make sense…. This book will allow me to cancel my golf magazine subscriptions and sell off my rather extensive collection of golf instruction books. Highly recommended.'
Amazon reviewer, 2013.
'Pure gold. Chris Riddoch declutters the golf swing.'
Amazon reviewer, 2016.
‘Fantastic book that integrates the best of a modern approach to the golf swing... Helps us get out of our own way.'
Amazon reviewer, 2015.
We need complex science for understanding the golf swing, but we also need a simple translation for learning and teaching. Confusing the two is a route to failure. Using simple swing thoughts allows good swings to emerge - under the expert guidance of our subconscious, implicit learning systems. We need to dispense with the 'swing of a thousand positions' and replace it with simpler concepts. We need to feed our brains the right amount of information, in the simple format it understands - a diet it can effectively digest...
We can achieve this by viewing the golf swing as a small number of big movement skills - not a large number of small ones. Of course, we can use our detailed knowledge of swing mechanics to fine-tune our approach - the 'trick' is to translate it into just a few, manageable swing 'chunks', which our limited brains can handle. And we can do this - we can identify the key skills that make up an effective golf swing.
'Simply, this is one of the best golf books written in recent years.'
Dan Parks, Editor in Chief, Journal of Applied Golf Research, 2012.
The Golf Swing
It's easier than you think
Modern science suggests that many of us approach golf swing improvement the wrong way. Trying to learn a swing through a long list of complex positions and movements conflicts directly with how humans learn skills. So we make slow progress. The human brain has very little capacity to learn in such a complex way - it can't cope. The brain learns skills through simple thoughts and concepts, so we need to simplify the swing, not complicate it. Read on to get a flavour of how The Golf Swing will change the way you play golf ....
'I'm impressed. A very readable exercise for the golfer who wants to understand the basics of the swing and how to put them to work.... I totally recommend this book to all golfers.'
Stuart Barber, Editor, Golf Today, 2012.
‘This particular book is quite possibly the best of the best. Simply put, it works .... I've broken 80 and added 10-20 yards to my shots ... Not only that, I enjoy swinging and playing golf again.’
Amazon reviewer, 2013.
'At last, something has come along in the world of golf books that doesn't further muddy the waters …. You might find yourself reading it more times than you thought you would.'
Amazon reviewer, 2013.
The Golf Swing Zone