Why watching free videos on the internet is unlikely to help your golf
By Ian Hardie
When I first started teaching the game of golf nearly 30 years ago, the information available to golfers to ‘help them’ improve their game was pretty limited.
In fact, everything to do with the game of golf was a lot simpler than it is these days.
Anyway, back in the mid 80’s when a golfer turned up for a golf lesson feeling completely confused and having lost all ability to hit the golf ball, there was generally only one of two things that would have caused their problem.
Either they had been messed up by listening to another golfer or they had read a golf book that resulted in them trying to achieve some sort of swing or movement that was not effective for them.
Now, while both of those things are still fairly common in driving golfers to seek golf lessons, for the past few years there has been a far more destructive method that a lot of golfers have been using in an attempt to improve their golf game.
Watching the millions of free videos on the internet, in an attempt to learn and improve.
A problem that has been created by technology and the very common human instinct to look for the free or cheap option for anything, long before paying for good advice becomes an option.
It’s a nice thought that you could learn the game of golf by watching a few free videos.
Luckily, there are thousands of different websites and other online delivery methods ready to help you do that, all of which will have you believe that you can learn the game or improve your golf by simply watching their ‘latest video’ and to some extent, you probably can pick up the odd idea or two from doing so.
As studies have shown, some humans are able to acquire skills more efficiently by watching a video as opposed to other learning methods, but I’m not entirely convinced that is the case when it comes to most golfers.
The studies that I’ve seen were carried out in controlled environments where the participants knew they were taking part in a study about learning, meaning that they were already in ‘learning mode’ when they did the tasks.
Something that most golfers who are surfing around the internet looking for free advice are not generally in when they begin to search for those ‘answers’.
Let’s take a look at how it really happens:
After a poor performance on the golf course, a golfer gets home and after calming down a little they decide to find out why they are slicing their driver off the tee.
So, onto the internet they go and, as most of these helpful videos are ‘free’, this is of course the first place the golfer will generally look in their search for better golf.
They type in a term like ‘golf video about slicing driver’.
Which I have done on YouTube as I’m writing this, so I can report that it came up with a mere 79,000 results.
Shouldn’t take too long to sort this slice thing out, should it?
For the purposes of research I looked through most of the videos that came up on the first two pages of the search results, which is what I would expect most golfers would do.
After an hour or so of listening to and watching a lot of different ideas on why and how people slice, I was able to understand why most golfers end up, just as you may have already experienced yourself, extremely confused as to what steps would need to be taken to ‘fix a slice’.
There’s no doubt that a slice is caused when the golf ball has side spin applied to it at impact by the driver, but that was the only common point that all the videos agreed on.
Here’s the biggest problem though: like most golfers would, I found myself spending a lot of time looking at the clothes the golfers were wearing, the course or the surroundings that the video was being filmed at, whether it was a sunny day or not, thinking about how the golfer’s voice sounded and how they were delivering whatever it was they were trying to say.
Needless to say, my attention was starting to really wander off in some different directions.
This is one of the main reasons that I believe most golfers struggle to learn from video.
There are simply too many things to look at, around what is being said or demonstrated at the time, which tend to attract their attention away from the actual information.
I found myself watching one video that had some plastic chairs behind and to the right of the presenter, which really stood out.
The longer I watched that one, the more I tried to work out why a few chairs were sitting randomly on what looked to be the middle of a fairway, as well as a few other things:
Why are there chairs on a fairway … that’s really odd … what did he say about the grip … who put those chairs there … what sort of sunglasses is he wearing … how did that leg movement go again … I wonder if someone will come along and sit on those chairs?
It’s no wonder most golfers end up more confused than ever after watching free videos on the internet.
I’m going to leave you to consider the following.
As you have been reading this article your eyes have seen each word or sentence, then sent a message to your brain to make sense of what it is all saying and while you are doing that you are using your ‘reading voice’, which is in your head, not to mention that you have probably been fairly focussed only on those words and nothing else.
That seems like a pretty good way to learn something doesn’t it?