Any time we embark on the journey to learn something new, we always start in the same place. We start with understanding the fundamental skills required to become proficient at what we are learning. As a long time coach, teaching fundamentals was the corner stone of my philosophy in order to build a foundation for skill advancement. I believe that without creating the conditions of success through fundamentals will have detrimental affect when it is time to move forward with advanced skill development. And then I came across something that started me thinking that part of my philosophy of coaching was flawed.
Before moving forward, my view on learning fundamentals first and foremost has not changed. Without proper fundamentals, a player can only achieve a moderate amount of success. It is the advanced skills where things become a bit fuzzy and here is why:
When I read this statement above (I lost the source in my social media feed, will attribute if I ever find it again), I literally stopped and read it three more times. As a coach and athlete, I was always taught that there are advance skills every person should learn after they develop the fundamentals for any specific sport or activity. But now, I can see the wisdom in the idea that advanced skills are just stronger fundamentals. And in golf, I can see how this view could change how many players approach the game.
If I use my driver for example, hitting the ball straight would be the first fundamental I would teach any beginner. As they mastered that skill, shaping the ball a bit left or right would be the next step. If I really think about it, shaping the ball a bit left or right is really a fundamental skill that many golfers have mastered. I guess doing some crazy Bubba Watson type shots would be considered advanced skills, but this is not something I bet players practice. They improvise on the spot to make a crazy shot happen because they understand the fundamentals of making a shaped shot. They just take it to a greater degree. Hence, is the Watsonesk type shot really an advance skill or a application of a fundamental for any golf swing?
Chipping would be the same thing. Phil Mickelson is arguably one of the greatest wedge player of all time and the things he can do with the ball is amazing. However, if you listen to him describe his short game, he talks about the fundamentals of each shot. It appears that he does not considered what he does with his wedges to be advanced skill, just a player who practice the fundamentals in a varied of situations. If it is good enough for Phil, then who am I to dispute him.
All sports have a cadre of fundamental skills required to enjoy the time devoted to playing it. These fundamentals, in varying degrees, are the same for every player. The more refined the fundamentals, likely the lower golf scores. It does not appear to be rocket science, just being devoted to honing the fundamentals needed to play well.
So, I revert back to the meme. It offers a different way of looking at skill development. It is something I will continue to ponder for a bit. Where do you fall with respect of advanced skills? Are they real or just really good fundamentals applied in tough situations?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!