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Talent Code audio (link)

The video below is of Daniel Coyle. He’s the author of the Talent Code and it’s a book that should be on your reading list. If you don’t read much, then get this book and while you’re at it, get this one and this one too. It will be worth your time, I promise.

The video goes for 18 minutes. This too will be worth your time. There’s some amazing insight into the learning process and it helps explain a lot of what I bang on about here. Watch the video and I’ll see you below for my comments on how it relates to golf, the learning process and Automatic.

First off,  you may want to watch the video a few times. You always get more on the second visit. If nothing else, I hope you’re buzzing a little, maybe thinking a bit differently and eager to get outside with a golf club in your hand. When I watched it I grabbed my putter and went out for a putt. If you can’t swing a club then maybe you can jot down some ideas and keep it handy for later. Writing your thoughts down is important because you’ll forget. Not matter how good your memory, you do forget things (at least I do – all the time).

Here’s some of my thoughts on how it relates to Automatic Golf

Make mistakes: This is key. Our society is obsessed with NOT making mistakes and this holds us back. We are trained from a very early age to conform to the system, a system that is all about controlling the masses. So we are taught to sit up straight and not make a noise – doing so goes against the norm. But if you want to move forward you’ve got to try stuff. Here’s a common question I receive;

“Cameron, can you help me please? I want to learn to hit a draw, what can I do?”

It may seem an honest question but it comes from someone who is afraid of making a mistake. They are waiting for the perfect answer before they’ll try. In a different age this person would grab a club, a few balls and head out to the paddock. They’d start hitting, experimenting and learning how to draw the ball. They wouldn’t wait for the answer, they’d go hunting for it. Along the way they’d make mistakes (lots of them) but that wouldn’t stop them.

If you weren’t worried about making a mistake how would you play? The next question you need to ask yourself is why aren’t you playing like this right now? Don’t let the fear of mistakes hold you back, they’re essential if you’re going to keep learning and getting better.

Pushing boundaries: My favourite story in the video is about the soccer coach from the UK who traveled to Brazil to learn more about soccer. It’s not my favourite because he identified the Brazilian secret for better play or because he went back home and trained an average team into a champion outfit. My favourite part is because he actually made the trip. Before he went he would have had all sorts of doubts but he resisted the doubt and fear and jumped on a plane. The rest was of the story was easy, getting on the plane was the hard bit. When we challenge ourselves we learn. Often, the hardest part is getting off the couch.

Commitment and repetition: I have told a few people that Automatic Golf can be boring. You do the same thing over and over again. It’s not sexy that’s for sure. But you’re rewarded with some sexy play, I call it Remarkable Golf. Traditional coaching is far more interesting, “make this magic move and you’ll halve your handicap” or “buy this club and you’ll hit the ball 19 metres further”. It’s sexy and interesting and the allure is too strong for most. But do you get sexy results? Not often. Mostly, there’s only glimpses of brilliance and then you’re forced to look for the next thing.

When AG started making sense to me I would practice my routine over and over. I didn’t hit balls because I was in the garage at home. I trained myself to walk into the ball, get set and then pull the trigger. There were no thoughts on swing or technique, I was training my mind to be clear and free. It was boring, but I knew deep down I was on the right approach. When I teed the ball up in competition, I stuck to my routine and not surprisingly, I started to perform. When the pressure of the closing holes would come, I kept doing my thing. Opponents, just like I used to, would go searching or hit the panic button.

Building technique: Watch the part where Daniel is learning to bounce the ball on the end of his club. When he started out he was hopeless. He couldn’t even get two bounces. But he got better and better and then there’s the part where he probably gets 40 or 50 bounces while doing some fancy tricks. He was no Tiger Woods, but it was impressive.

Here’s the question: When he was learning this skill do you think he was ever worried about his grip, stance or elbow position? Or do you think he had the objective of “just bounce that ball on this club face”? To me the answer is clear. His objective was simple and all other thoughts didn’t enter his mind. Sure, his technique changed, but it happened at the subconscious level.

The golf instruction world has missed the point. It’s too obsessed with positions and technique. The point should be to hit the ball with an objective and then repeat. And repeat. And keep going and going. Thoughts on technique overloads the system and gets you away from what you’re supposed to be doing (bouncing the ball on the club face, hitting the ball to a target, jumping over a log, running fast etc).

I used to think talent mattered. That some lucky people are born with the ability to do the right thing at the right time. But I no longer believe in that. Talent is overrated and something that Pesky uses against us. We all have the ability to perform better. For most of us, we need to stop worrying so much, aim a little higher and then get off the couch.