Aristotle would argue;
People don’t like change.
Golfers are people.
Therefore, golfers don’t like change.
Look 1 – Breaking The Habit
One fundamental reason people, and by inference, golfers, don’t like change is that they like the comfort of routine, custom or habit. At a basic psychological level there are 5 basic reasons they resist change; uncertainty, lack of confidence, anxiety, stress, confusion.
You spend £100 on a crash course with the pro to get rid of your slice. On the range it’s perfect. You hit ball after ball straight, straight, straight. Then you get on the first tee and all your frames of reference have gone. What do you line up with? Normally you’re aiming at the 18 tee, but now? What reference points are there in the middle of the fairway? As you prepare to hit the drive you’re really nervous. Everything seems unfamiliar – what do you do with your legs? your arms? How high do you tee it up now?
Anxiety creeps in. (by the way anxiety has best been defined as the anticipation of pain – it’s not the pain itself).
You hit a bad shot and the stress builds. For the past 6 months you’ve hit bad drives on this hole but have put it down to rushing, not warming up properly, a difficult tee shot, a big breakfast. Yet today it’s the fault of your new swing.
Stressed as you are it’s inevitable you hit the next drive badly and suddenly you’re hot, sweating and barely know the general direction you’re heading for.
You return to your old ways, have a miserable round and vow never to change your swing, or anything ever again.
Look 2 – The Coping Cycle
The Coping Cycle – A model for helping golfers : Adams, Hayes and Hopson
People and golfers go through a number of stages as they go through change. In the model by Adams, Hayes, Hopson suggest that everyone has to take this journey. For some, it’s seconds (they’re shown something new – they copy it, assimilate it and move on) others never get to the end of the journey (see story 1). People give up and go back. The joy of this model is that it gives hope. Golfers, and people, need hope – they need to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
As they move along this path their performance and self-esteem fall, then rise. This is inevitable – for everyone.
At the start there’s the inevitable defence and denial stage – this comes when us golfers are asked to confront our demons. We have not been playing well and although the figures, the jokes of our colleagues, the self knowledge points toward making change we rationalise… “It’s not a hook it’s a draw.”, “I’m an aggressive putter not a useless putter.”, “if it wasn’t for those 4 bad holes I would have broke 100” – any excuse to put off the pain of the first steps.
The next stage is the adaptation. This is when the change is finally happening. We’ve bit the bullet, accepted the inevitable and done something about it –new clubs, new shoes, warming up, or God forbid – even a lesson. This will be the lowest point in this whole change cycle process. Our self-esteem is at its lowest. Our performance is at its lowest. We know this is true.
When we’re working on a change to our swing all we can think of initially is your arms, your legs, your elbow, your head – anything except hitting the ball. At this stage everything else goes to hell. Where once it was only our driving that was bad now it’s our approach game, our chipping, everything – just because you’re going through a radical change and nothing seems natural.
The trick, of course, is to stick at this and recognise that it will be better. Remember when you learnt to drive – all unnatural and strange for a long time – now it is the most straightforward process you could think of.
Eventually we work through the stage and it just becomes how it is. This is how our swing is. We’ve internalised and adapted and we’re hitting it better – further, straighter …. It’s at this point that our putting goes to hell ………………