Brain, Motor Learning, Swing

Overlooked relationship between technique and skill in the golf swing

In golf we spend most of our time talking about technique and very little about SKILL. Adam Young sits down and shares his thoughts on this vital relationship.

Technique is what you are doing.
So what path did you use?
What strike did you use?

It could also be movement things.
What shoulder turn did you produce?

So technique is what you are doing.

Skill is your ability to change or control those things. So impact and performance skills are more important, because that’s ultimately what we’re after. They’re more important than swing skills, so your ability to change your shoulder turn or something like that. Because that’s not really relevant to whether the shot is how you want it to be.

As you improve your skills, your technique tends to improve as well.

As an example, a skilled golfer can do certain trick shots where they use horrible technique. For instance gripping the club in an horrendous way or make a back swing with a big loop. Even though the technique is bad you can still make good impact and beat someone with what would be perceived as a better technique, better movement pattern.

“I saw plenty of golfers in Germany who they were very technical, technically-minded, and so they spent all this time building these beautiful-looking swings but their coordination wasn’t necessarily there.

You’d look at the top of the back swing and you’d say, “Wow, that guy could be our scratch.” And then he’d top it completely, or even miss it. So, your ability to coordinate the impact is also huge.”

The research has shown that the more you focus on the movement pattern itself, so that kind of internal focus that Wulf talks about, that tends to make coordination skill worse.

When you improve someone’s skill, someone’s ability to, say, hit the ground in the right place, their technique often improves. So it’s a reverse engineering of technique.

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Founder and chief curator of the Golf Science Lab. Documenting what's going on in the world of research and beyond that can help you play your best golf on the golf course (when it counts). Join the movement of researched based coaching over trusting beliefs and what worked for one person a few decades ago. Follow on Twitter