This post is going to discuss one of the most important emails I’ve received. It came from Brock (a regular reader) and was in response to this post on cricket. I’m going to add my own thoughts throughout and shed more light on the problems of traditional coaching.

Brock: As a former junior cricketer with a lot of potential and my own wristy style I can certainly relate to being over coached. I made the South Australian Junior State Squad but this is where things got worse.

Cam: Most kids learn in a simple and uncluttered way. They play the game and develop great skills by “hitting the ball”, “catching”, “throwing”, “running” etc. There’s nothing too it and this is learning in its purest form.

Brock: But attempts to remove my wrists left me with no shots and less power resulting in ZERO confidence.

Cam: I hate this and I see more and more of it. A young kid develops a tasty love for a sport by following their passion and playing the game – then, they reach a high level of performance and get picked up to achieve more (and supposedly better) coaching. Any quirky style or skill is beaten out of them – they are forced to follow the system and any deviation from the system is frowned upon. And this is the really stupid bit – their own unique way that got them there in the first place is ruined. Gone. Destroyed. And all because the stupid coach is too dumb to see their genius and too scared to buck the system. I hate this – many kids passion and enthusiasm for sport ruined. Most are lost to the system , fed up and go do something else.

And I see this in all sports. Tennis, AFL, football and golf. And it’s not getting any better. As the technological age advances, coaching is getting more complicated, more contrived and completely over the top. It’s getting worse, not better.

Brock: I’ve recently had a golf lesson with one of Melbourne’s top instructors … and I’ll be damned if he didn’t tell me I was too wristy!!!

Cam: They can’t help themselves! This is just lazy coaching and shows an ignorance to our learning system. What is too wristy anyway? Being told you’re doing something is only a small part of the puzzle. Why can’t “being wristy” be seen as a positive and an entire game built around this trait? Why does it need to be removed?

Brock: Knowing what I know now though I have chosen to walk away from that instructor.

Cam: This is not easy to do. Walking away is Brock’s own way of following his own path, rising up and saying I’m gunna do it my way. This takes courage because going against the grain is definitely not the norm – for the most part, we’re all little conformists at heart. Pesky loves it when you conform because it gives him an excuse when you (ultimately) fail, “It’s not your fault, you did everything that the pro asked of you”.

Brock: Instead, I have made a slight modification to my clubs and am now hitting a consistent slight draw with all my clubs with my old FLAWED swing that needed to be rebuilt from the ground up.

Cam: Nice. He has listened to his guy and doing what feels right to him. Automatic Golf (and the stuff that is written about here) is not about not doing nothing, the goal is for you to stop putting your trust in “the system” and start relying on your own learning machine. Brock also highlights that “your” way is often good enough. Sure, we can spend years (like I did) trying to build the perfect swing and conforming – but it can be wasted time because one day you’ll realise you’ve lost your best golfing years and “your” swing is more than adequate anyway.

Stories like Brock’s are why I write this blog. I want more golfers to stand up and say, “there must be a better way” and “I’m sick of being pushed, prodded and molded into a swing that doesn’t suit me – stuff it! I’m going to start playing the game in a way that truly satisfies me”.

Coaching isn’t about filling up minds with useless tips, thoughts and technical concepts – it must be about allowing the individual to learn, explore and have some fun. When this happens, improvement and success are a natural byproduct. For progress to be made there needs to be a departure from the conforming mindset and this needs to be replaced with a willingness to concede that the individual, no matter how quirky their style, ultimately knows what’s best for them.

I know the classical mindset isn’t going to be changing anytime soon, but with more golfer’s like Brock experiencing the benefits, we can get there one golfer at a time. I’m hoping we can all spread the word and help stop the destruction of golf talent everywhere.

Finally, Brock’s last sentence sums up things nicely;

Cookie cutter solutions from cert 3 coaches don’t work for everyone. Trust your natural game and your instincts and be the best player you can be.