Learning Sports
By Michael Hebron, PGA Master Professional, CI
The whole process of long-term learning is essentially based on:
Being Self Taught
It is useful to see lessons and instructors as catalysts to self-learning and
improvement. Dr. Ellen Langer, Ph.D. from Harvard, points out that
rehearsing and repeating new information has long been held as the fas
test and most productive way to learn tasks, but she points out there are
some problems with this long held approach.
The rehearsing and repeating approach does not leave much room for
thinking and rethinking information. Dr. Langer feels there are more
effective ways of mastering skills. She calls it "mindful learning". She
points out le arning requires more than memorization, repetition, and
rote. The rehearsing and repeating conventional learning approach
depends on automatic behavior. It stifles creativity and undermines self-
esteem as we struggle and often fail to adequately le arn basic
It encourages bored students and mediocre skills with most people not
thinking beyond what information they have been given. When we are
learning like robots, rehearsing over and over, it deprives students of
maximizing their full poten tial. They never learn how to use their own
personal and unique physical skills, menial abilities, and personalities to
their fullest. Simply memorizing the execution of information won’t do.
1.        Being more aware and evaluating the feel of the task gives
insights to improve skill that repetitions don’t provide.
2.        By consciously trying to vary your style and by letting your body
and mind experience with many different feels will improve ones’ ability to
recognize workable and unworkable motions. Ones' ability to recognize
mistakes, learn from them, and move on, is very important in long-term
3.        Distractions do not have to be enemies of effective learning.
When the mind becomes distracted and loses its focus, its actually telling
us that the way in which you are trying to learn isn’t providing enough
novelty. Not enough novelty causes the min d to wander and boredom
sets in followed by distractions. It helps to acknowledge distraction, to
vary the ways you focus, and to learn and use other points of view.
Many believe learning should take lots of hard work or even be a painful
experience that must be survived before the rewards of learning happen.
This kind of mind set virtually guarantees a negative experience.
Learning can be fun, and probably must be if it’s going to lead to any
long-term fulfillment.
Using new information to expand skills and letting the mind exercise its
powers is fun! (I.e. meeting new friends, traveling to new places, taking
up a new hobby). When you are having fun, it is going to be easier to
recall information you are trying to learn.
Breaking down a task into smaller pieces and moving away from the
obsessions of trying to get it right, brings the joy of learning. Fear of
negative evaluation can take the fun out of anything. For example, if we
were rated on how fast we completed a crossword puzzle, how much
enjoyment would we actually get from doing the crossword puzzle? In
fact, when we are lost for the word that fits, and we search in different
places for ideas that may give us the correct word, it often requires t he
mind to do some work that one feels good about when the answers are
found. It really is more fun and rewarding than when we immediately know
what word the puzzle is looking for.
It is when learners stop judging themselves, and become involved in the
whole experience of learning through awareness and self help, that
pleasure and productivity become partners on the path to long term
The human body runs on electricity; every human body and emotional
system is wired differently. Every person is a unique individual who feels,
sees, experiences and creates motion in his or her own best way. The
message is Learn to Control Your Swing – No one Else Can!
Personalize Insights
Because the golfer, ball, club and playing field are located here on earth,
all the physical laws that govern things that takes place on earth also
influence the golfer, his ball and club, the swing used and the field of play
. Most of what takes place in a sound swing is really not negotiable. This
statement applies to many other sports as well as to golf. The natural
physical laws on earth and the physical basics of the game of golf govern
a sound swing. These laws have not changed since day one.
In addition to a foundation of science and natural laws, golf is also an art.
Golf is felt, experienced, and created differently by each person who has
ever played the game. There is very little common ground in golf
instruction information because it is felt and experienced differently by
each of us. Even information that is accepted as quality information from
quality instructors is in disagreement. We could say there are cracks in
the quality!
In 1973 Don Michaels wrote ‘Learning to Plan – Planning to Learn- The
learning process is an ongoing process, its not a fad. Ideas can take a
while to understand, to apply, and to assimilate, longer than the natural
life span of a fad."
In some cases you can believe what you read. This is one of them. Most
people will not improve with their current information base or have any
long-term learning take place with the approach they are using. If you
can recognize the logic in this--- Golf Just Got Easier.
New insights can reveal- Nature does not contain any other possibilities!
Keep in mind information does not have to change to handle the
problems of learning golf, change the way information is viewed and
used. Discoveries are built on Discoveries; Knowledge on Knowledge;
Surprise upon Surprise.
When the once unobservable (but present) is seen through new insights,
the unknown becomes self-evident. My suggestion to golfers who are not
happy with their rate of progress is to change your view not your
information. It is my guess that as you change your view of golf
instruction information, much of it will no longer seem as valuable as it
once did, and small amounts will become very valuable!
Stephen Toulmin, a professor at the University of Chicago said, "If there
is a point, where we do no know for certain what we do know, or what we
do not understand! Don’t let this frighten you, but do not ignore it either –
because we know it ---- its just unobserved as yet." Things can really
become self evident when seen from a more useful perspective making
what we see, feel, and interpret more recognizable to the individual
learner’s self discovery skills.

@Michael Hebron copyright, all rights reserved, 2008