Don’t Forget What Your Golf Coach Tells You
By Bradley Turner Keiser University College of Golf
Director of Online Golf Instruction, MBA, PGA
An awesome first step in learning to play this great game is to get some help from a good golf coach. There are many quality golf instructors that are available to help you with your game. For golfers that seek the help of a golf coach, it is very important to manage your expectations of the lesson. There are too many amateurs that are looking for a simple fix to a long-term problem. Spending an hour with a good coach is a great step, but it is only one step of many more in developing a well-rounded golf game.
Learning to play golf is much different than learning in a traditional classroom environment. Developing a motor skill takes much more than learning the basics of a subject like science or arithmetic. For example, in an Algebra class, the teacher expects a student to listen, comprehend, and then demonstrate retention of this information in the form of a test or exam. This is how we have been trained to learn new material. Learning in the classroom and learning to play golf are different tasks for a human being. But the one similarity is that the learner must understand the task and demonstrate it to the teacher or coach. Unfortunately, we tend to forget rather quickly, resulting in a confused student and a frustrated instructor.
The Traditional Classroom and Learning
Imagine going back to high school Algebra class. You listen to your math teacher explain how to solve a problem. Did you take notes, or did you only listen with the hopes of retaining the information? Did you complete the homework that was assigned to you?
In 1885, Hermann Ebbinghaus developed a theory focused on how human beings retain new material over a specified time. His theory is known as the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve. The following information summarizes Ebbinghaus’ findings. So back to our Algebra class for a moment; this is how humans tend to forget information over time.
Immediately – as you listen to the information from the instructor, if you are listening, you will be able to recall this information immediately. Retention is 100%
20 minutes after class – as you step out of class and into the cafeteria and are asked to recall the information from class, the average human retains only 58% of the information.
60 minutes after class – you have lost an additional 14% of the information, retaining only 44%.
1 Day after class – you have lost 67% of that great information from the Algebra instructor, retaining only 33% after one day.
6 Days after class – you are down to only 25% retention.
1 Month after class – retention is now at only 20%
Ebbinghaus found that more information is forgotten very early on in the learning process, and the “forgetting” becomes less as time passes. The good news is that there are learning strategies that can help us remember more of the information and improve our retention over time.
Ebbinghaus discovered simple tactics to reduce the rate of forgetting. If a student reviewed the material immediately after class, within 24 hours, the retention rate improved from 33% to 45%. If the student reviewed the material a second time the next day, the retention rate after six days improved from 25% to 40%. With two additional review sessions, after one month, retention improved from 20% up to 80%. Most humans need to review material to remember it over an extended period. If you review four separate times after the initial learning, you will retain 80% of the information. This seems simple, but how does this relate to learning golf?
Strategies for Remembering Your Golf Lesson
By applying these tactics in your next golf lesson, you will be learning over the long term exactly what your golf coach needs you to improve. Here is what you should do:
1. Make sure you write down the key takeaways from your lesson. Most coaches will summarize the essential points of the lesson, but if not, take your notes.
2. When you get home, take some time to review your notes. This is your first review session.
3. The next day, review your notes for a second time.
4. Schedule time to go to the practice range or short game area within 48 hours of the original lesson. Review your notes for a third time and work on the identified areas of improvement. Do not deviate from the coach’s plan; stay the course!
5. Schedule a second practice session. Review your notes again for the fourth time and get to work on getting better!
Motor Skill Learning is Different Than Traditional Class Learning
Assuming you apply the above learning tactics, it does not mean you will have mastered the motor skill movement to strike the ball the way you want. But it does improve your chances of working on the right things to improve your golf game. Coaches get frustrated when their students practice the wrong things. Both the student and the coach lose when the student leaves the golf lesson and forgets everything by the time they have parked the car in the driveway. By creating a little bit of discipline before your practice sessions, you will be able to remember the essentials your golf coach is asking you to develop.
If you’d like to study with Bradley Turner and other PGA Master Professionals, contact the College of Golf today.