Stages Of Learning

We can become a little frustrated with our golf games, seek instruction and find great value in the session by seeing results and feel the flow of confidence coming back into our games, only to find a few days later all those good feelings and that improvement seems to have left us somewhere along the line. The finger of blame usually will point towards the lesson no longer working or it being to difficult to make the change rather than persist in continuing on with the lesson drills and swing feels. The simple matter of fact is that it takes time and effort to making improvements and anyone who thinks there is a short cut to progress will be left wanting.
This leads me to talk about the three phases of learning that we go through in order to learn a new movement or skill. We all want to get better, if we didn’t we wouldn’t be taking lesson’s or spending the time we do on the range, so I think it only right that we give ourselves chance to create a sustained improvement rather than the band aid fix that will only work for a few days.


The three learning phases we go through can’t be swapped around, its an order in which you have to go through to be able to achieve your desired change or skill. Its not just in golf, everything you have learned that is now automatic you have gone through the same phases. If you have bad habits in your swing, you need to go through phases of learning to remove them.  These three learning phases are –


Cognitive – This is the understanding phase, were big changes can be made but are not ingrained, the instruction that has been given is making sense and you understand “what” is needed to change. The fruits of your labour come to fruition within the lesson given but there is work to be done yet. The instruction allows the learning process to start, the hard work has started but by no means has it finished.

Associative – This is where you start move from “what” to do into the “how” to do it phase, your able to produce the skill more. You’ll tend to stay in this phase for longish period of time if your working correctly with effective practice, monitoring movements in practice and with your coach you’ll start to reproduce good results more often and see a noticeable difference on the course.

Autonomous – This stage is the habit stage, were you simply “GET IT” the movement has become the norm, you don’t need to go through the command thoughts as much and you’ll be able to transfer it to the course with ease. The change will be the result of going through the learning process, after a sustained period of EFFECTIVE practice combined with some supervised sessions with your coach, all that patients, focused  and hard work has paid off.

This is of course only touching the surface of learning new skills but for those of you taking instruction I think this is an important process to understand. Golf instruction is littered with the “quick fix” promises in magazines, Youtube and in some cases your local driving range, don’t be fooled into thinking anything other than good information, sustained effective practice and hard work will get you that prolonged fix that you so desire.

[custom_author=Tom Motley]