Welcome to the first episode of our new Golf Science Lab powered podcast Game Like Training Radio. Hosts Matthew Cooke and Cordie Walker are dedicating an entire show to learning and practice so that you can play your best game on the golf course instead of on the range.
Because the topic of learning is so under explored, Matt and Cordie are going to explore more effective and efficient training environments, have conversations with experts in the field, and also dive into research papers on different topics related to golf training.
Learning… What is it, and why should we be looking in to it?
Learning has played a major role in the existence of the human race, and has become increasingly popular amongst golf coaches, and athletes in the 21st century. The capability to learn, and continuously enhance human performance is critical to competing at the highest professional level, and ultimately earning a living, and surviving out on the professional circuits (PGA Tour, European Tour, LPGA Tour, LET, and many more professional tours).
It is key to first outline what learning is defined as: Learning is the gain in the underlying capability for skilled performance developed during practice. Motor Learning and Performance 5th Edition, R. Schmidt, Time Lee
Learning, and performance
Often misinterpreted, or misunderstood, is the conclusion that many draw from the performance of golfers, which often does not reflect the skill level that underlies the performance.
Sometimes the best does not always win, which highlights that the golfer (learner) might not always, for many different reasons, perform to his, or her full potential.
When has learning taken place?
To state that learning has taken place, and so qualify as a change in skilled performance, the change has to be permanent. Often the mistake of changing golfers particular strategies, or movement parameters, can lead us to believe learning has occurred, however the same golfer may, and in most cases will revert back to their original way of doing things out of habit, and more deeply a solidified connection, and response to stimuli firing particular motor programs.
When performance does not return to its previous level, and remains at a higher level, then it can be concluded that learning has taken place as the performance level has been enhanced.
Learning, and practice. What’s the difference?
When conducting practice for a golfer the goal is to acquire new skills, or enhance the precision of current skills. This is close to defining learning, and can guide us in the overall goal of practice, which is to learn.
It has become evident that golf as a domain is starting to accept the widely known principles of the learning sciences, and has starting to become accepted amongst highly credible golf coaches.
Concepts such as blocked verses random practice, constraints led learning, contextual interference strategies, dynamical systems theories, testing techniques, learning of forgetting, and much more are shaping the next generation golf coach.
It is when this approach is taken we will inevitably see the incredible abilities of human performance.
What to expect from this show
Over the next 2-3 months we’re going to bring you in depth conversations with experts in the field of learning like Trevor Ragan, John Kessel, Dr. Fran Pirozzolo, and many more. As a player or coach you’re going to have a better idea of how learning works and how you can get more out of your practice.
Originally from the United Kingdom, Matthew developed his knowledge through extensive study in sports and exercise performance, sports and exercise science, and the PGA (Professional Golfers Association) of Great Britain. Whilst in the U.K. Matthew Co-founded ‘Leap Golf UK’, with Iain Highfield, where he worked with Ladies European Tour, Euro-pro and mini tour professionals.
Since joining the United States, Matthew founded ‘Game Like Training Golf Academy’. The Academy runs full scale coaching programs for all level golfers, and educational programs for coaches looking to expand their knowledge on scientific learning principles. Clients spread from all over the Unites States, Europe, South Africa, and Australia.
Matthew is currently involved with research studies in expertise and expert performance with Dr K Anders Ericsson, and Len Hill PhD, and is collaborating with professors in motor learning, cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and professionals at the United States Olympic Association.
Matthew has written 4 workbooks that have helped hundreds of golf coaches, and players, in over 13 countries, practice, and train more efficiently. The workbooks give an insight, and practical examples, to the key characteristics of creating an environment that fosters learning.
In 2016, Matthew was elected to be part of a book project, called “The Taxonomy Of Educational Objectives For High Performance Golf” with Dr. Fran Pirozzolo, Dr. Robert Bjork, Iain, Highfield, Sean Foley, Chris Como, Jonathan Dismuke, Pat Goss, Bernhard Langer, Dr. Rob Neal, Russ Paine, Trillium Rose, Grant Waite, Joey Wuertenberger, and Kevin Smeltz.
Collaborating with the worlds best golf coaches, and academic professors, Matthew aims to educate, grow, and give back to the golf community.
Cordie Walker has spent the last four years working with golf instructors, helping inform thousands on business and teaching best practices (if you’re a coach or instructor, check out golfinthelifeof.com).
Through this experience he has realized that it’s time to change the way golf is taught. After reviewing research and talking with coaches and academics, he launched the Golf Science Lab, a website and audio documentary-style podcast focused on documenting what’s really going on in learning and playing better golf.