Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Editor's Note: In a recent post, Bill M. wrote to T.J. , "I consistently hit the ball toward the heel of the clubface. How do I start hitting in the center?" Several commenters asked for more clarification on his advice. Here is T.J.'s response:  A few years ago I made a presentation at MIT. The topic was the "Role of Operant Conditioning in Shaping The Golf Swing." Everybody knows that you can produce certain behaviors by using a reward schedule of either something pleasurable or unpleasant, that is, positive or negative feedback. In cases similar to the reader who was making contact off center, I've found it very effective to set up a reward system where the player, over a number of swings, gets rewarded as he figures out how to move the marks on his clubface back to center. The act of looking at each swing mark is the conditioner. In this case you don't need a lot of instruction, all you need is the reward system and a student that is willing to do the repetition in order to move the marks. 

To use a medical analogy, the method is "patient heal thyself." It is my opinion that at every opportunity teachers must structure the learning process to allow the students to heal themselves so they will truly "own their own learning." This is one method to do that. Try it and let me know how you did.

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