By Dr. T. J. Tomasi
Keiser University College of Golf Senior Faculty and Director of Research

Research on practice by Timothy D. Lee and Laurie Wishart gives us two interesting conclusions about learning a motor skill – one obvious, and the second quite revealing.  

First, during your practice session, you should take frequent, short breaks to reboot your powers of focus – please remember that every shot, even in practice, needs to be made with the two components of your power of focus – full intention and full attention. A tired athlete is error-prone, and since you are in complete control of the situation when you practice, there is no need to risk becoming tired. Secondly, the researchers found that when you take your break, you should spend it watching others practice – and they don’t have to be pros to make O-O (Other-Observation) effective. The researchers claim that what you are watching is another person problem solve, and that stimulates your brain to solve the problem too.

Watch and Learn

There is much research to confirm that watching other people perform a movement helps you learn it, but should you watch only experts, so you don’t copy the errors bad golfers make? Science Says you should watch both expert and novice, as long as you know beforehand the skill level of your models. Basically, you can learn ‘what to do’ from the expert by using your brain’s copy software and ‘what not to do’ from the novice using your error detection software that every brain has. Once you know your model’s expertise level, the correct brain software is automatically activated. According to findings of Mathieu Andrieux and Luc Proteau from the University of Montreal, “This could be very important … (when) a teacher/trainer uses a video observation protocol. For example, if the intention of the observer is to learn a specific aspect of a golf swing, it is likely that the result of the swing (i.e., the ball flight) will not be shown on the video. Therefore, the observer would not be able to “guess” the expertise of the model from the result of the swing and, as we have shown in the present study, learn better if he or she was informed in advance of the quality of what he or she is about to observe.”

Copy this finish position– and when you figure out how it’s done – do it.

Figure out how he does this and make sure not to do it.


At some point in almost every lesson, I stop and ask my student to watch another golfer swing. I have videotape of the common errors, and I choose someone with the same problem, then ask my student to be the teacher, break down the problem and institute the solution.

You can learn a lot about swinging the club correctly by watching someone do it incorrectly – knowing what not to do is sometimes as valuable as knowing what to do. This process of re-engineering the problem, then solving it, helps the student realize what’s going on in his/her own swing world. Getting fascinated with someone else’s problem/solution helps you understand how to solve your own problem. In the normal lesson, the student owns the problem, while the teacher owns the solution; but, doing it this way, the student owns both the problem and the solution.

If you’d like to study with Dr. Tomasi and other PGA Master Professionals, contact The College of Golf today.

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