There’s a conversation a few months back that bothered me. It came after spending some time with another instructors pupils working on their wedge games. Now this is relatively new territory for me bearing in mind that an instructor would never ever allow another to teach their pupil full swing knowingly and even invite them to do it.
The conversation I refer to wasn’t really that much of a conversation, more of a collection of comments that started to bug me later on. The comments centered around the instance of a player who was struggling to even make decent contact with the ball and the thought that I was attempting to provide “tour player” instruction to someone with the skill level of a novice.
The assumption must have been that the ideas were too sophisticated and not applicable to a player at that stage in their development. For me it was an incorrect assumption. The reason it was incorrect is that anything I do revolves around finding function and I’m confident enough in my system of doing things that I don’t feel the need to have a special approach for anybody. If the motion is always going to be a balancing act of components that can either match up or not then why would anyone veer away from that just because someone is struggling (and would no matter what you do)? The whole point in having a system to find functional is that you are giving the player the best possible chance of success! The level of the player is totally insignificant!
Admittedly the goal with the end product might be different but the process is identical. For example, the player who is struggling to get the sweetspot within the same postcode as the ball versus the player who is trying to deliver the club with the optimal spin loft for them could feasibly have exactly the same mismatches but the latter has a skill level that can over ride the issues and deliver the sweetspot to the ball in a sub optimal manner. Should I then approach the lesser skilled player with a totally different philosophy? Do I get them standing on one leg with a ton of shaft lean and have them punch balls out low with contact but no control? Is that going to be satisfactory for them? It wouldn’t be for me.
Going back to the original comments, teaching a hacker to pitch it like a tour pro… even if that were the case (which I hope you can see it isn’t now) would that be so bad? It’s become clear that good wedge shots really share a lot of the same characteristics and the variance in how the ball is launched is actually relatively small, why would you not teach someone towards that goal? Surely anywhere else is going to be limiting but hey they can really hit that ball with a wedge…
Do I teach everyone the same thing? Yes. Except no. I understand where functional lies for a multitude of different styles, if my way of finding that functionality is consistent then I do teach the same thing. If I deliver it with a variety of thoughts, feels and challenges to create better wedge games entirely tailored to the individual then no, I don’t teach the same thing to anyone.
Removing the barriers to performance shouldn’t be skill dependent, from tour player to relative beginner.
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Coming soon: How skilled players can make poorly matched components work but may suffer as a result