I posed this question recently, and I want to flush out some thoughts I have regarding it.
An athlete’s ability to collect and perceive information from their environment and use it to produce motor solutions that complete a given task is imperative to success.
Sport is much more than simply the physical movement you produce.
How do we control that movement?
How do we provide ourselves feedback and adapt within our movement?
How do we decide (consciously or subconsciously) which movements to undertake?
Where do we place our attention while completing a movement?
There are so many deeper questions that reside outside of the physical movement that our body is creating.
The best athletes in the world are the most adaptable ones, meaning, they can produce motor solutions to tasks no matter the environment they find themselves within.
Being the case, the most important part of navigating and solving different environments (i.e. succeeding on the golf course) is being able to accurately perceive and collect information from it that you will use to produce motor patterns.
All of that being said, I question if modern technology in sport, and specifically in the golf world, is taking away from the athletes ability to create this perceptual-action bond.
Most players would rather listen to technology telling them that they were inefficient, as opposed to letting their awareness, the environment, and the outcome drive adaptations.
They let technology drive their swing, as opposed to their human body.
The human body has been around for thousands of years. It adapts DAILY, to its surrounding environment. It is the most adaptable and best problem solver in existence.
Tech has been here for a few decades.
And here is the thing about technology…. It is not 100% objective!
People often forget this.
Technology and data is NOT 100% objective.
There is a massive subjective element of the way that we utilize the technology and the data.
The technology will tell you if you hit it slightly off the toe… what you do with that information is very subjective.
And more than that, we know from motor learning research that long-term adaptations don’t stick when we are told what to do, as opposed to when we figure it out for ourselves through the process of experience.
So if technology tells me I am “inefficient” and I then change my swing so it is “efficient” there is a large chance that
1. The change won't stick
2. I will feel extremely uncomfortable within that new swing, and may produce worse results.
My body has adapted to solve the problem of golf with my current swing. Giving tech the ability to alter those adaptation patterns that have been created over decades, means taking away from the adaptability of my swing.
But the tech is telling me I am efficient now, so it must be a better option!!
Swing Changes Can be Positive... but how are we undergoing change?
Of course, some swing changes are must. And a certain technique could be limiting your potential or causing an injury hazard... I'm not saying that everybody should simply be "swinging their swing."
HOWEVER, the best coaches find ways in which a swing change will ADD to your adaptability, not take away from it.
They will give you the constraints and environment to explore and arrive at the swing change through your own learning process. You will learn through feel; through successes and failures; through problem solving.
Not by being directed or by technology telling you what to do.
Because the biggest key here is...
Tech can’t create motor adaptability - only you can.
By exploring. By practicing. By solving motor problems.
Of course technology SHOULD have a role in training, and as I said, some swing changes are a must. I just want us all to remember that there is another side to this modern tech boom in the golf world.
There's a ton of good within it, but it’s not ALL sunshine's and rainbows.
Carter Schmitz, CSCS, TPI