“Kids learn by feel… not words” said my oldest daughter’s teacher Buck Mayers.
When I first heard the comments, I didn’t appreciate how powerful and true those words were until I started reflecting on the teachings of Harvey Penick. Mr. Penick was the master of painting pictures with words that the body understood. Pictures could help the student clearly understand the muscle movement or body action.
I think this is one of the assets that great teachers have… the ability to paint pictures with their words to assist their pupil accomplish the right feel. When teaching children, I think this is especially true… and sometimes adults need to be reminded.
If you have other examples of getting a child to “feel the movement” please share with me. It would be great to build a collection of these tidbits for teachers to share as best practices.
A few examples of my favorites from Mr. Penick:
- “Swing the club like you are hitting a top spin forehand tennis shot” – he often said this to me to get me to load/unload my lower body and to get the path of the club swinging from inside to out with the proper finish. (other examples he told me for this – rolling a bowling ball)
- “Shaking hands with two friends – one on the right and one on the left” – at address of the ball rotate the body to the right on your back swing with the hand in the shake position. This ensures the angle of the club face is in the right position. On the follow through do the same motion.
- “Act like your rolling a ball” – a great putting drill for teaching someone distance control. Put your weight on your front foot and roll the ball to the hole. Doing this will help your eyes and body get into sync. (other – he often had me do the same exercises for chipping, tossing the ball)
- “Swing a big bucket of water” – he said this to get me to understand how to shift my weight while keeping the club in front of my body. Additionally, I think it is great for teaching tempo and balance.
- “Hold the golf club like your holding a baby bird or squeezing a tube of tooth paste” – he often told me this to reinforce the grip pressure. Most people grip too tight… putting a bird in there, paints the right image.