To be a good teacher, you need to know how to communicate to your student what you see in their swing that needs attention AND translating that into something the student can understand. Finding the right “angle” is key because not everyone learns the same. Here’s how I begin a lesson and how it progresses from that first dialogue with the student.
1)I ask them first if they have any physical issues that would inhibit their golf swing. If there are some, I take note of that and keep that in mind as I may be giving different drills to compensate for this physical limitation.
2) I watch the student hit balls and ask them about their swing thoughts. Backswing thoughts? What starts your downswing thoughts? This is KEY — listening to them – for they are explaining to me what they think they should be doing in their golf swing. I can figure out from what they say how we will approach the lesson. Sometimes one flaw (example – grip too tight and arms tense) will be the master problem which in turn creates issues everywhere else.
3) After they swing a few times and after hearing what they want to accomplish in their golf swing, I demonstrate what they are doing and then demonstrate what they should be doing. This is where video comes into play. I can show the student – frame by frame – what they are doing as opposed to a model swing that can be compared on the video. I don’t use video all the time but for the student who uses it, they are amazed at what they thought they were doing and comparing it to actually seeing what they were doing. It is quite different!
4) I like to tell everybody that posture, grip and alignment are all basic fundamentals, but from that point on everyone has something different to work on. I want to make sure the student gets in to a proper impact position with good posture and balance. I may have 12 ways to say the same thing to a student to accomplish this goal but that’s how we are all wired! Communication with the student and them understanding what you are saying is BIG. Without that, the student will be confused and won’t understand how his/her swing works, and I have lost a student (which, by the way, hasn’t happened!)
I will tell you a story. When I first started playing golf, my Dad sent me out to one of his old friends, a pro out on Long Island. I took the lesson and when I came home my Dad asked me how it went. I thought the lesson didn’t go well. Dad was surprised. I told him that the pro just said “do this” and “do that” without any reason why, or what the result would be if I didn’t “do this and that”. I was disappointed, but I never forgot that lesson that I took from him. That is one reason why I always want the student to 1)understand 2)ask questions and I will give you an answer! 3) openly communicate with me. That is the best way to learn – both as a student and myself as a PGA Professional teaching that student.