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Should You Play Golf While Working On Your Swing

Online Golf Instruction By: Chuck Quinton, Master Instructor • FULL BIO •

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The number one question that I get more often than anything else isn't about the grip or the swing plane or setup or impact. It is, "Do I have to stop playing while I'm working on my golf swing?" That is a great question and that is exactly what we're going to answer today. Here are the 10 things that you need to think about and understand as you're working on your swing.

So in order, number one, the first is that it takes three to five thousand repetitions to master any motor movement. I've talked about this in great detail in other videos so I won't talk about it in depth here, but the key is understanding that that three to five thousand reps is going to take time. Now, that's to master a movement, and this is key.

When we talk about mastering a movement, we're talking about you being very proficient at it and being able to do that same movement over and over again without screwing it up, and more importantly, reverting back to your old movement pattern. So if you've got an inside takeaway and you're working on taking the club back on plane instead of going inside, for you to master that new movement that you're learning, it will take three to five thousand reps before your brain is going to want to always default to that new movement pattern. In between that time, you're going to find yourself learning to rip the club inside still, and that's normal for everyone.

This is the golden rule of learning. It doesn't mean that this just applies to your golf swing. This applies to everything in life that you're doing that involves a motor movement, and that could be writing your signature. That's a motor movement. That is your brain telling your muscles what to do in what sequence to do and what order to do it in, and that's a movement no different than learning how to play a musical instrument, learning how to drive a manual transmission, learning how to run. All of these things are motor movements that you took time learning at some point in your life if you've mastered those movements. Hopefully we can run, write our signature, feed ourselves without stabbing ourselves in the eye with a fork, but when we first started doing that as a child, we couldn't, so that's the first thing you've got to understand is that this is going to take time.

Even if you did 100 reps every single day, and more importantly getting into number two, you did them absolutely perfectly, because only correct reps count. If you're doing the rep exactly right, that's the only rep you get to count, but if you mess it up, that's not telling your brain the right information. You're just reinforcing your old stuff, but even if you did 100 reps every single day perfectly, that's a whole month to master a movement.

So now one thing that confuses a lot of people is, "Well, do I just have to work on just my set-up for a month?" No, of course not. Absolutely not. We want to group as many things together as we can as long as we're doing them correctly, but there's obviously a point where our brain just can't juggle working on set-up, takeaway, backswing, downswing, lag, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. We can't juggle that many things, so we have to work through these things in a specific order and a specific sequence.

That's where RotarySwing takes the thinking process out for you. We show you the five steps that you've got to master in order in doing those reps and grouping these things together because everything with RotarySwing is stackable and progressive, meaning that we not only can take one drill, but combine it with any other drill in the system. They're all compatible working together doing the same thing, getting you moving in the same direction, that we can also get you to feel the new movements while you're working on the old movements, continuing to reinforce things. That's what we call being progressive. We're taking you from one step to the next and so on and so forth.

So then, as you're working on the stuff, let's just say you're... We'll go back to the typical old inside takeaway, and you're getting the club to go back out on plane as you go back. This is a really difficult thing to work on while hitting balls and playing golf because backswing thoughts take you away from the focus of sending the ball down range. At the end of the day, that's the whole goal, right? We want to send the ball toward our target, and so we're thinking about backswing thoughts. I find it personally, and I found for my students as well, that it's a challenge to think about backswing thoughts while playing golf, certainly not impossible. Everybody's a little bit different, but typically it's a little bit easier to focus on something that actually involves hitting the ball, impact positions and release, downswing, while working on your swing, but that's again not a hard and fast rule.

But understand that as you're working on something new that any distraction is going to add a challenge to your swing. So a distraction could be your dog barking at you while you're practicing at home in front of the mirror. It could be just a mental distraction. "Oh gosh, I forgot to pick up the kids at school again," right? It could be anything that's taking your focus, your intense focus from doing this one new movement, because that is really the key is you really have got to be super focused on what you're doing to get the most out of it to make sure you're doing the reps correctly, and you're catching all these little nuances.

For those of you who have seen the Road Show videos, you've seen many of the same things over and over again that people struggle with, and it's one little thing that I point out that, "Oh, well, the set-up is making it impossible for you to not reverse pivot," or, "Your grip is making it so of course you're going to take the club inside." It's all these little details that if you're not really focused is going to make golf really challenging and learning really challenging, and going out and playing involves thousands of distractions.

If you're in Florida, you've got to worry about hitting your ball into the weeds and getting eaten by an alligator. You're worrying about not hitting it into the bunker. You're worried about not hitting it into the hazard. You're worrying about chunking it, being embarrassed, hitting a bad shot. All of those things slow down your learning process. It doesn't mean you can't work through them if you have tremendous mental focus and can focus just on the movement pattern that you're doing while being out on the golf course and you're not concerned about the results, you're concerned about learning and making the new movement pattern, then of course you can do it, but as number four talks about, isolationism speeds up your learning process.

Isolationism is taking out all of those distractions and making it really, really simple. I'm going to give you one task, one task only. You had one job to do, and you just do that one thing, you're going to learn much faster than if you're trying to do that one thing and 50 others. None of us are able to process that many things at tremendous speed as the golf swing happens without typically having something fall apart. We drop the ball on something. How many times have you seen in these Road Show lessons that I'm giving somebody something to think about, and then they forget about the other thing I just told them about, right? That's normal, and so you have to take that into account.

That's why it's really critical to go slow at the beginning, to build that foundation, to get that perfect 100 to 300 reps that it takes to build that movement pattern, and then slowly keep reinforcing it. Without fail, every single golf lesson that I've given, every golf clinic that I've given, without fail, those who improve the fastest were always the ones who went the slowest at the beginning every single time. If you take your time in the beginning, and it might just be 15 minutes of taking your time to really make sure that you see what's going on and that new takeaway or whatever it is that you're working on that you can feel it, that you understand, that you know everything that's going on that's going to provide the challenges for you, then you can slowly start to speed up and start to ramp up speed. Where everybody makes a mistake without fail is they go too fast too soon.

You've heard my whole car analogy, learning how to drive a manual transmission. All of us sucked at it when we first started. Driving a manual transmission seemed like a really big challenge. You started out in a parking lot. That's isolationism. We reduced our distractions to the absolute minimum. We weren't trying to go fast. We weren't trying to be in traffic. We're just trying to learn how to give it gas and slip the clutch just the right amount without stalling and lurching, and then we slowly start adding more distractions. The golf swing goes the exact same way. We want to slowly get out of that parking lot and get onto a back country road. You don't want to go from the parking lot to the Indy 500. You don't have the movement pattern drilled in your brain enough, mastered enough. You haven't done enough repetitions for you to be able to do it quickly. You might totally understand it intellectually, but your body, your brain hasn't built that physical pathway and reinforced enough in your brain for you to be able to do it at speed, and that's the whole trick.

To do that, you've got to make sure that you go slow at the beginning and chart all your progress. Make sure that you're paying attention to the little details at the beginning, and the best way to do that is with a mirror and a camera. Your best two training aids in the world, you already own them. You have a mirror in your house, I'm certain. If not, you've got a sliding glass window or some sort of window where you can see your reflection, and a camera, we've all got them on our phones nowadays, and heck, they actually record at high speed now. They're amazing. A little iPhone will get everything you need out of your golf swing to understand what's going on, where you're making mistakes and being able to see it and get feedback instantly.

When you're learning something new, brand new, you should record every five to 10 swings, or one swing every five to 10 shots or swings that you make, because you're going to inevitably start slipping back into your old movement patterns, especially if you're going too fast, which is why I really, really encourage you to do the nine to three drill until you can do it in your sleep and you're having dreams or nightmares about it, depending on how you think about it, because that nine to three drill teaches you 90% of the golf swing without having to go past halfway back. It's all the critical parts of the swing, and if you watch yourself in a mirror, it's very, very easy to master that simple nine to three move, and then we just, if we're going to hit the ball further, we just make a little bigger turn. We just continue that nine o'clock swing to a 10 o'clock swing, and voila, all of a sudden we've mastered the entire golf swing, but you have to do it with a mirror and camera.

Now, at first, you may not recognize all the little things that can go wrong in your swing, totally okay. Use your instructor. That's what they're there for. The RotarySwing tour certified instructors on the site will point out exactly what you need to work on, help you understand why you're struggling with this, put your swing up next to somebody else to show you the visual of what it needs to look like. Use your instructor. It is a godsend to have these guys out there to be able to help you very, very quickly and very, very affordably.

One other key that I want to talk about. As you're working on these drills, you're using the mirror. You're using your video cameras. You're using your instructor. The next step, once you've got this platform of learning, this platform of building for success, using the mirrors and cameras, using isolationism, working on your repetitions, using your instructor, you need to start putting the drills in context. What I mean by that is when you're practicing and going super slow, well, that's not how you actually hit a golf ball. At some point, you need to go super fast, and so as we're doing this, we have to understand that at some point, you've got to start challenging yourself to move a little bit quicker and more in the context of a swing.

The swing doesn't happen at one mile an hour. It's going very, very quickly, so we have to start challenging ourselves and go as fast as we can doing these drills correctly. That's the key. As soon as you make a mistake, you're going too fast. You need to back it down, take some pieces off of there, slow down, and give yourself a chance for your brain to catch up and do the rep correctly at whatever speed that may be. This is not a race. You're not competing against anybody else to see who gets to the end the fastest.

That's why you need to take pride in the process of learning. You are going to get better. In fact, you're going to get very good if you follow the RotarySwing system. You've seen what it can do in just a super short period of time, how these students in this Road Show in 30 minutes or 60 minute lessons can go from looking like a complete rank amateur to having the same mechanical movements and positions and movement patterns as a tour pro. Now, they're not mastered yet. They've got to go through the repetition, the building process, the myelinization process to build that pathway in their brain so they can do that movement very, very quickly over time, but that doesn't take that long.

In just 10 days, seven to 10 days in most people's case, they will take something that they've never done before and are struggling mightily with it in the first few minutes of the lesson, and in seven to 10 days, they're going to be able to do that movement very, very proficiently, and screw it up hardly more than 20% of the time, 10 or 20% of the time. 80% of the time, 90% of the time within doing that first seven to 10 days of reps, that's 700 to 1,000 reps on average if you're doing 100 reps a day, which takes about 30 to 45 minutes for most drills on the site, in seven to 10 days, you're going to be very good at that movement.

Now, that doesn't mean you're necessarily going to be hitting the ball as well as you're going to two months from now, because as you change one thing in your swing, it's a cause and effect relationship. You change one thing, you have to understand how it affects the other, and so it may change something and require another change to get you further down that road, or you may find that you instantly go out and play your best golf, like this golfer did because everybody is a little bit different. But just understand as you're working through this system, this is how you learn everything in life, and you're right around the corner from making the biggest breakthroughs and being able to play your best golf no matter how old you are.

I just got an email yesterday from Ernest in Florida, and I thought it was great to share because here's an example. Everybody thinks that oh, they've got to be a certain age or they're too old or you just can't teach an old dog new tricks or I'm not flexible enough, or whatever it is. Ernest is 94 years old, and just like so many of you, he has spent the vast majority of his life trying to find this elixir of golf, find the cure, find this panacea to get me to where I want to be, and it doesn't exist. There's no such thing. Even RotarySwing is a fundamentals based improvement program that guarantees results if you follow the system exactly the way it's laid out, but it doesn't happen by swallowing a pill.

Now, in Ernest's case, he found in a couple of weeks he's already hitting the ball much better and he feels like he's entering the promised land. I like that, because that's exactly what it is. If you follow the system, I guarantee you'll get better. So take pride in the process. Know that you're going to play the best golf of your life, but you have to work through these keys and understand that if you go out and play all the time while you're working on these drills, you better be really, really focused while you're doing these drills on the golf course, because now you're fighting a lot of distractions. You're just making it much harder on yourself. It's like trying to learn how to drive that manual transmissions in rush hour traffic in L.A. It's not going to be a very fun experience for you, but you might fight through it, but why make it harder on yourself?

Why not give yourself the chance, the best chance for success, take all those distractions away, focus for the first seven to 10 days of what you're doing on, what you're working on, get those movement patterns drilled in, and then slowly start reintroducing more distractions, because at some point, we have to. We not only need to try and put it in the context of the swing and start to move faster, but we also need to start trying to manage those distractions, the fears and things that we struggle with on the golf course of hitting bad shots or making good contact or whatever it may be, but that has to happen over time. You don't want to just take the whole bottle of aspirin. Be patient, take pride in the process, and you will improve.

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