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Forgetting the Swing

A few years ago I assistant coached the boys golf team at my high school alma mater. Only one of the kids on the team was worth the time, money, and effort, and I've maintained a relationship with the kid. We golf together a few times a month and, more interestingly, I continue to help him with his golf swing.

Last year we spent a fair amount of time re-working his swing. The move was somewhat dramatically different than the move he was making, and he slipped out of it fairly quickly as he didn't practice it enough.

This year, we spent three weeks prior to the Junior Match Play working on an improved swing. He played only about 45 holes of golf with his new swing, but was about 85-90% of the way there. In golf, 90% of the way towards making a pretty darn good swing is pretty good, and you always have to watch that you're not over-correcting.

So he feels good going into the Match Play, and so do I. His "new" swing is delivering very, very good results: much better accuracy, more consistent contact, and slightly better distance.

Then he completely forgets the swing. Right out the window, instant reversion to his "old" swing. I'm shocked. He's shocked, and ousted fairly early in the tournament.

I take a fair amount of satisfaction from coaching the kid, and seeing him improve, and so I don't know quite how to feel about the instant backtracking of three weeks of work.

It's obvious to me now, though, that whatever "old swing" the kid's got, it's very, very deeply ingrained. The reversion, psychologically, makes sense. Even though he knows the old swing is, not to mince words, pretty poor, he's more comfortable with it. He's spent more time with it. Bizarrely, he has more trust in it.

So the plan the rest of the summer: spend every day working on the swing, even if it's five minutes at his house alone. He's got to be ready for golf season in the fall, and I'd really like to see this one stick.