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  • Writer's pictureKris Hogan, LPGA

On the road to learning: Having the right navigator by your side

So by a show of virtual hands, how many of you think that communicating with someone in the other’s preferred style is important?  If you’re in sales or management, you probably have both hands raised.  But what about other more innocuous situations?  What about leisure time?

My husband and I used to have so much fun watching Amazing Race together.  We’d imagine we were contestants and decide on the spot who was best suited to complete each of the challenges.  We were sure we’d win every time, that is, until we were challenged to navigate directions to one another.  Suddenly, we were facing virtual elimination on the road from Arras to Paris.  You see, when I drive somewhere I like to see the whole route on the map as a big picture before I get going.  My husband likes to see the details and the turn by turn list.  I look out for upcoming turns that I remember seeing on the map.  My husband drives straight until he  is verbally directed to do otherwise.  I remember the names of the roads and exits I see on the map, while he needs a verbal cue to make a move.  It’s a  disaster when he won't let me see the  map while we’re driving (because, you know, distracted driving and all), or when I forget to prompt him to turn because I expect him to remember seeing the exit name on the map or to read the road signs ahead.

Countless parenting books have been written on how to communicate with your child by using his or her own language, and the book, “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman explores the theory that couples can learn how to display their love for one another by using the other’s “language”.  Today, we’re going to discuss how you can have a fantastic golf lesson with a golf professional who is aware of your learning style.  

There  are three main learning styles: Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic.  Generally, individuals have a strong first sense and a slightly weaker “back-up” sense. Similarly, we can prefer to see the details first, or the big picture.  Believe it or not, these are incredibly important data points for a golf professional to collect before beginning your next private lesson.  If your professional doesn't ask, you can (and should) let her know how you like to receive your information.   Studies suggest that at least 65% of all people prefer to learn visually, with auditory coming in second with 30% of the population and kinesthetic learners making up a mere 5%.  We all know that visual learners like maps, charts, graphs, photos and color coding text. Auditory learners are usually the most talkative, ask the most questions, and remember up to 75% of what you tell them.  Our kinesthetic friends are the most fidgety, and love to experiment in hands-on situations.  

During a golf lesson, these differences can make the most difference in how quickly and thoroughly a student learns the day’s lesson.  Can you imagine how a kinesthetic learner would react to a 10 minute long explanation on how to square the club face?  The visual leaner will love a drill that allows her to see where her club face is pointing, and that auditory learner will replay the instructor’s voice in her head the next time she practices so the instructor’s words should be precise and animated.  Mnemonics will work exceptionally well for this student.

  Now about the big picture versus details: I live and teach in Silicon Valley, so one of the very first questions I ask my new students is “So, do you like to know why things happen in the golf swing?  Would you like an explanation about what we’re covering today, or would you prefer a simple drill that you can do on your own without knowing the cause and effect?”  Even though I am surrounded by big tech companies, I can never predict what someone will tell me so I have learned to ask every time.  As a “big picture” person, I want to see the whole thing mapped out first, and then dive into the specific motion that needs to be corrected.  On my own, I can reverse engineer the motion because I understand how it fits into the big picture (remember our virtual trip from Arras to Paris?).  But sometimes I have to bite my tongue before going into a lengthy cause and effect description because that student simply wants to address the portion of the swing that is causing the most trouble for him.  

Sometimes my students don’t know how they’d like to learn, so we experiment.  If you are uncertain about how you like to learn, ask me or your favorite golf teacher to experiment during your next lesson. See you next time!

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