Everyone Can Become Learning-Disabled,
By Michael Hebron, PGA MP, CI

We all can become learning-disabled as task requirements exceed our
proficiency.  We reach a “level of anxiety” when information, quick
decisions, or compelling distractions derail our attention.

Strengths and weaknesses, habits of attention, emotional blocks,
frustration, and recovery behaviors are exposed by anxiety.  Meaning drops
off, vision contracts, and hearing dims in ways characteristic for each
person.  Some who lose their sequence, direction or rhythm can recover
and succeed, others become confused and are not able to succeed.  
People forget, forfeit, and fall defeated into frustration and some never try
that again.

Note:  Easy assignments create an illusion of learning competence, as
defects stay hidden and special talents do not surface.  But when we risk
failing we expose our needs and strengths as we learn what can be
improved.  Stressful learning events should be sought out.  They are vital
to our growth.

Stress is natural and not our foe.  Without the distress of hunger we would
not eat.  Drinking, mating and growing are stress related drives.  Stress
itself is neutral, but attitudes about it can make or break us.

Unfortunately some learners never reach their stress-point.  They fear the
test, expect to fail, and if given a chance to flee, they’ll take it every time.  
For others the opposite is true.  They embrace challenge; delight in the
thrill of performing at their edge.  They keep improving themselves and
become our stars and champions.  It’s not that they don’t fear failure.  They
have learned to sustain clarity and flow in crisis.  And that’s the point.

High achievement under stress is a “learned skill” and this must be


Stress point education uses challenges to reveal and remedy negative
learning patterns.  Typically, students are given a task that only tests their
foundational learning skills.  For example, while looking at a sentence they
may be only spelling out the letters in each word.  

A more useful and workable learning environment chooses the speed or
sentence and word length to find an appropriate challenge, one that takes
several attempts before succeeding.  As they strive to complete the
exercise, the students’ “emotional and perceptual/motor deportment”
becomes the subject matter for the lesson, not just the skill to be learned.

With each success more difficult tasks are assigned.  The next lessons are
chosen to learn new habits and skills in order to eliminate specific learning
difficulties and this wakes the students up into larger bits of present-time
experience.  As harder assignments are completed, awareness sharpens
and ability grows.  When precision becomes reflex, learning deficits vanish.  
Note:  Some golfers only practice what they can easily accomplish and
never learn what is needed to move on.

Particular problems- i.e. letter reversals in spelling (or a difficult lie in golf)-
require tasks that encourage directionality and sequencing awareness.  
Spelling a sentence backwards or reversing direction mid-sentence in
response to a buzzer are examples.  Eventually the tasks are performed
from memory, forward and backward, without looking at the words.  Golfers
who are learning, must also be challenged beyond current skill levels,
causing neurons to fire in the brain, as new information is being decoded
and encoded.

Completion of a useful exercise requires more than calling out correct
letters at the right time.  Students are held to the task until a “flow-state” is
achieved.  The strategy is to activate the “flow-state”, strengthen it, prolong
it, and then work on the disabilities.  In this “open and flow state”,
breakthrough learning and new brain connections occur more easily.  
Students expand into new skills as a unified whole, rather than by closing
down self-discovery and adding just another splintered skill.

In a “more aware” conscious state, students rise to the occasion, give up
old patterns, release conscious control, and flow through the experience
from beginning to end.  In flow, the voice becomes fuller, confident and
precisely on the beat.  The eyes, face and body appear intelligent and
aligned with present action.

It seems to me that the instructor’s job is to carefully choose the tasks that
help students attain and increase “flow strength” firing neurons in the
brain.  With a success-oriented, nonjudgmental attitude, the advice given
guides the students’ behavior.  Together, then, the coach and player work
out ways to proceed.  As learning patterns become clear, students learn to
confront their problems enthusiastically and objectively.  This requires self-
understanding and embracing potential imperfections with a sense of
strategy (core golf knowledge) and play without self-criticism.

The final goal of the training is to transfer “flow-state learning” to any new
undertaking in or outside the training arena (golf’s ever-changing
environment). Students learn to break tasks into appropriate challenges, to
achieve mastery as they proceed.

With this approach, improved learning capacities and habits are integrated
into the functional organization of the brain and into the world beyond the
training environment (i.e. the field of play).  In the end, perception expands,
self-awareness grows, and strain and fear decrease.  The individual
becomes more creative, confident, and capable of navigating toward a
higher quality success by taking risks.


Advice Givers Should Keep in Mind:

•        Saying what people want to her,
•        giving people what they want, or
•        giving people what they have been “led to believe” they should want,
is often not the same as helping people learn what they need.

A familiar insight, “he who fails to learn from history, is doomed to fail” – but
trying to learn from someone else’s description of what they believe has
happened, will not be the same as learning from what actually happens.

Without core subject knowledge, impressions of events can become poor
concepts and misinformation that fragment learning.  What an event looks
like can depend on who is looking, but what actually happens is non

At times, the golf swing and playing the game can seem immensely difficult
and complex.  But its story could be briefly told – “Swing the stick back, up
and over one shoulder, then down, out and over the other shoulder.  But
often in the end, the story’s plot always thickens, or so it seems!

The possibility of progress often “sits on small points,” that can make a big
difference in the results we receive for our efforts.  Progress is often linked
to gaining some understanding of “small points,” from different points of

Poor insights, and or being in the wrong place, at the wrong time,
undermined attempts to maximize motion.

©Copyright 2002 Michael Hebron, Learning Golf, Inc.™ all rights reserved.  
A part of the Joy of Learning™ Series.

Everyone Can Become

Michael Hebron, PGA, MP, CI

Learning Golf Inc.