A Recent FB Post on FMF

Recently on FB one of my mentors Steven Yellin was having a discussion about the hundreds and thousands of hours the pros practice.  The Fluid Motion Factor is how great golf gets played.
This discussion is very interesting. I do not have any of the science first hand. What I have is the experience and the observations of what I have seen in 40 years of national scope golf.
In my generation the stories all have a very Malcolm Gladwell Outlier ring to them.  That is the guys I grew up with were given an opportunity to play a lot of golf in their developmental years.  In my story I basically had free access to the golf course from age 7 until age 16.  I took advantage and I played a ton of golf.  Tom Lehman had a similar experience. Scott Simpson did too.  When the stories are told they revolve around playing golf.  This is significant.  These stories do not revolve around golf academies, big teachers and such.  Earl and Tiger played a lot of golf.
In my opinion golf is as poorly practiced a sport as any invented.  If you divide practice into block practice, repeating the skill over and over again with the understanding that improves performance or random practice, trying to make practice as much game like as possible; block practice dominates.  Our facilities are designed for that practice.  And when a facility designs a facility to randomize practice it is either underused or just considered a novelty.  Current tools also lend themselves to block practice: V1 and Flightscope come to mind. Block practice and big tools have a use but I think the evidence is mounting that game day in the heat performance is not an inevitable result of how much you practice.
John Kessel of USA Volleyball is one coach who is a leader is developing random practice to elevate performance.  In golf my friends Lynn Marriott and Pia Nilsson very much put forth the idea that randomized practice and simulating game situations is essential in improvement.  Ironically in golf the best form of randomized practice is to play another round of golf.  If you must be on the range then you must develop a strategy to make the time worth it.  Hitting one six iron after another does not make you a better player.  Putting on a chalk line and holing 300 in a row does not help you be a better player.  While I am not doing the research the evidence is mounting that random practice is far superior to block practice.
The way I would say it is this.  The DNA Goal of block practice is to so groove your swing you never make a bad one.  The DNA Goal of random practice is to develop the ability to adapt to all situations.  I am so convinced in the superiority of random practice and chaos that I devise practices to produce chaos.  However block practice has a place in my personal paradigm of golf.  The pure joy of hitting one perfect 4 iron after another is a lot of fun; I just do not expect it to make me a better player.  An example is Vijay Singh.  Vijay is renowned for his “work ethic”.  He is admired for epic practice.  The guys all think he likes hitting balls and just does not want to go back to the room; nothing more nothing less.
So yes there is absolutely a time and repetition curve you go upon to gain a skill but once that skill is achieved a whole new thing happens.  That thing becomes “how do I do it when it counts?”  That thing has had a traditional name: the zone.  The zone has been misunderstood as either that giant glass faced Hogan-esque bubble you go into or a fleeting now you have it now you don’t thing.  Current research and the work Steven Yellin and associates are doing show that the zone is possible anytime you want.  You simply have to know how to ask your mind body system in the correct way to get what you own.  That is why in this discussion I am with Steven based on the preponderance of evidence I have seen.
The old paradigm of golf: best swing + most practice = best golfer simple is found lacking by observation. Arnold Palmer, Miller Barber, Jim Furyk, Two Gloves Gainey, and David Ogrin have swings nothing alike.  So how and why did I win on tour?
In 1996 I fell into a state that was not unique in my experience but the one that always produced results.  Time slowed down.  My mind went on neutral.  My swing and putting became easy.  I had that experience before at times: 1985 Memphis, 1989 Hawaii, 1987 Hattiesburg.  I also was there 2013 Texas Senior Open and many other times.  I was also sideways for many long stretches.  Most of those stretches had one thing in common: I was working on my golf swing.  When Steven explained the Fluid Motion Factor my first and lasting comment was, “Of course!”
Did I play a ton of golf?  Yes!  Did I hit a ton of practice balls?  Yes!  Did I chip and putt and chip and putt?  Yes.  Have I sought the best swing and mental advice?  Yes.  Do I believe in what Steven is selling?  Absolutely!
One of the great myths of golf is we can groove our golf swing.  One of the great shocks is how imperfect perfect players are.  In my opinion the goal of pursuing a golf swing that will not fail is an incomplete goal and misses a key ingredient.  That ingredient is the next shot you will hit is a unique event.  In order to hit it well you literally need to start over and withdraw from your memory the motion.  It does not come when you force it, fake it, or demand it.  Your best golf comes in the zone with one factor present, silence.  I know this to be true from real life experience.  This is the opposite of traditional training that says, “If you get the right combo of swing thoughts you will hit a good shot”.
In the end if you are going to practice why not practice getting into the zone?  Why not practice the conditions and techniques of putting yourself in the zone?  This is why once I detect one of my novice clients can actually hit a good shot with a good swing I teach them the FMF with amazing immediate and way earlier than normal results.  If I had FMF as a systematic scheme I would have been much better since I fell into the silence of the zone some.  Some of my buddies did it better: Tom Lehman, Loren Roberts, Duffy Waldorf, and Corey Pavin come to mind.  For us in and out was the norm.  For the next gen in and out will be in and in deeper.
In the end I will never say you don’t need to put in the work because every great player I know did.  But I will say that the Fluid Motion Factor explains what happens when great golf breaks out.  Once there every great player I know did what was needed to keep it going and it was not endless hours of ball beating.
I am certain this clears nothing up but I chimed in.  FMF is the real deal.  It is what happens during great golf.  That is my testimony.  Ogrin

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