Game-Changers: Adam Young
All outstanding golf coaches know the game inside and out. That’s a given.
Any instructor worth his or her salt can tell you exactly why a shot did or did not work. They can evaluate your swing, introduce innovative techniques, and pinpoint weaknesses in your game.
What is truly unique, however, is a coach whose knowledge of psychology is as thorough as his knowledge of golf. This is what sets Adam Young apart.
Adam Young is a golf coach who has centered his approach to instruction around an in-depth understanding of brain function. For Young, it simply isn’t enough to teach golfers proper technique. Instead, he emphasizes an approach to learning that helps players truly absorb the skills they need to excel.
Between his lifelong fascination with psychology and his work as a coach, Young has developed a style of teaching that complements the function of the human mind. You remember those times when “proper form” results in a more awkward swing? Young knows why that happened. That phenomenon where a new technique works for a few weeks then seems to make everything worse? He has an explanation for that, too.
These insights have helped him develop a style of instruction that revolutionizes learning within the game of golf.
The Adam Young Philosophy
As Young himself puts it, “I try to see the golfer as more than just ‘mechanical meat.’ I look at the player as a mix of their physical, technical, and mental attributes.” A short tour through Young’s website demonstrates how deeply this philosophy is engrained in his approach. While he may offer clear, digestible insights on technique, these tips are built from an understanding of how complex and unique each player is. In fact, Young writes that “every swing you make is a snowflake.” In golf, learning really isn’t about perfecting that professional-looking swing.
In fact, he emphasizes external focuses over internal focuses. To put that another way, he encourages players to worry less about what the body is doing (internal focus). The micro movements of the body are inconsistent and unpredictable. External items like a ball or a clubhead are what serve us better as stable points of focus.
“I look at the player as a mix of their physical, technical and mental attributes.” – Adam Young
For example, Young’s blog post “The Number 1 Reason Why You’re Bad at Golf” subtly takes focus away from the motion of the body. Instead, he emphasizes turf contact. At what point does your club hit the ground? Where is it in relation to the ball? Rather than analyzing your swing, Young begins with the action ball and clubhead. From here, he reverse-engineers the solution to your suffering game.
And his coaching doesn’t stop at simple fixes. He’s also invested in making solutions stick. Part of this stems from his strong grasp on learning psychology.
One example lies in his keen awareness of perceptual adaptation. This is a phenomenon in which the brain begins to accept an adjustment as the new normal. In which case, if a golfer continues to make that adjustment, they are soon over-correcting. In other words, if you need to slide your hips more forward in your stance, your brain will eventually correct itself to recognize that adjustment as your default stance. So if you continue to consciously adjust, you will soon be adjusting an already-adjusted position. The benefits of the adjustment are lost, and your brain doesn’t know why.
Adam Young does.
Moreover, he wants to impart that understanding to you.
Teach Them How to Fish
Young is a big believer that if you give someone a fish, they eat for a day, but if you teach them how to fish, they eat for a lifetime. In coaching terms, that means he wants to help golfers evaluate and guide themselves.
Young’s goal in all of his instruction – from one-on-one coaching to his written work – is to share true understanding of the game. It can’t just be about mastering technique; it has to be about building real skills and real understanding.
He refers to golf as “the Rubik’s Cube of sports.” “[Each shot is] a puzzle to be solved,” Young says. “And as such, requires a player to tap into their problem-solving capabilities.” As he sees it, his responsibility as a coach is to give players the tools to solve the problem of golf on their own.
Fortunately, he’s provided several opportunities for golfers to learn these skills.
Learn from Adam Young
In this article, we have not even begun to dig into the insights and philosophies you’ll find on Adam Young’s website. His blog alone offers a lot of food for thought.
That said, he also provides additional instruction through his book, The Practice Manual: The Ultimate Guide for Golfers. This volume focuses on the question of how golfers learn. In it, Young shares his advice for not only learning effectively, but also how to practice in a way that speeds up the learning process.
A change in impact concept can bring about a change in swing motion. Obvious to some, head blown moment to many others.
— Adam Young Golf (@adamyounggolf) December 15, 2017
Young has also created The Strike Plan, a 6-module video course to help players strike more effectively. In addition to breaking down concepts and sharing professional analysis, Young uses this course to share drills that will take players’ practice to the next level.
Both the book and the course are designed to be accessible and meaningful to golfers at every level. They also contain instruction inspired by the science of motor learning. This is the approach Young swears by, and his scientific understanding of brain training is what sets him apart as an instructor.
Finally, for those who prefer to learn one-on-one, Young also offers online coaching.
In Summary: The Game-Changer
When we look for ways to improve our golf game, we usually focus on understanding the game better. Adam Young’s philosophy challenges us to consider how we might improve with a clearer understanding of ourselves.
He approaches instruction with an emphasis on psychology and learning. He works with the science of the mind, teaching players how to “hack” their brains to achieve the performance they want. And by taking brain-friendly approaches like motor learning and external focus, he shines an entirely new perspective on a game we thought we understand. He reverse-engineers the very technique of golf.
Above all, he makes it easier for all players to develop a sustainable method for learning and improvement.
What Do You Think?
Are you familiar with Adam Young’s ideas? Have you tried his techniques?
Let us know your opinions or questions. Take a look at Adam’s blog and tell us what you got out of it. We’re always happy to hear from you!
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