May 5th,2014

The Coach…..

~~In a time where Trackman, Biomechanics Sam Putt Labor and my Vector Launch Monitor(still in my garage in Australia) has become common place in the teaching and development of golf, Cameron McCormick Australian Coach to the young PGA Tour sensation Jordan Spieth sheds a different light on coaching and player development.
In early 2000, I remember listening to Butch Harmon, who, at the time, was coach to world No.1 Tiger Woods. “The most teaching I’ve ever done was with Tiger Woods although there comes a time when the teaching stops and the coaching carries on”. No wonder Butch has had so much success with a broad variety of students with varying swing characteristics and styles. It’s a lot about training skills versus training styles.
As a coach I’ve always been fascinated with training habits, getting my students to use their time effectively and ensure they have quality time with the high quantity of hours they are putting in. It’s safe to say that elite players place a lot of emphasis on intense quality controlled practice. Make no mistake there are no short cuts when it comes to reaching the top tier on the world stage or to get your golf club handicap in single digits. Developing the countless array of short game and scoring shots needed to keep from having the weekend off for professionals, especially when they’re not firing on all cylinders,or winning the Monthly Medal for my golf club members. As Ben Hogan stated ‘there’s not enough hours in the day to practice all the shots you need’ and ‘the secret is in the dirt’.
Recently I was in contact with Jordan Spieth’s coach Australian born Cameron McCormick. I wanted to better understand how an experienced coach pre plans a training regimen for someone like Jordan Spieth.Cameron divides key factors such as pre-competition phase, in-season competition phase and off-season phase. Here’s what a typical practice schedule looks like for a player the calibre of Jordan Spieth and how his coach structures his training during these various phases.
When Jordan Spieth is in town his schedule typically follows some mix of the following:
- Physical Training 4 of 7 days/week, typically in the morning
- 2-3 training sessions per week with Cameron this can last from 1 hour to 3 hours
- Skills training following guidelines from their time together
- On-course play would see Jordan Spieth playing pretty much daily.
This is a good schedule even for my members who want to drop their handicaps and become club champions in 2014.
Skills Mode vs. Form Mode
Depending on the window of time they have before his next event Jordan Spieth may be in full skills mode – high priority on ball control and outcomes. This would include target training sets of ten balls, with all even or odd-numbered clubs. Spieth has to stay on the range before he meets certain standards, having to hit nine out of ten 9-irons within a 30-foot wide area, all solid contact. Or he would be in form mode getting in reps in acquisition of adaptation. Either way the ratio of play to practice and then the ‘what’ of practice will change.
Pre-Competition Phase
Typically 5 days before the event he will shift fully into target/ball control and 80% playing to shoot scores. Shot shaping and target, and fade away from technique. Same with the putter; Jordan Spieth became a great putter with the style change and then training the skills correctly.
This pre-competitive work will follow playing 18 holes then review and work on skills challenges from the round…always with deductive logic (detach emotionally from the round and reflect on skills strengths and weaknesses) then spend time in improvement mode either that day or the next day before he plays again.
One of the key traits of any great coach is to give their student self-awareness and to develop them into a self-sufficient player. A player who has self-awareness knowing what the body feels like, where the golf club is during the swing and what contact feels like, can create minor adjustments that allows them to play. Cameron see’s Jordan Speith as a very self-sufficient player, they  have worked together for over eight years and the training pathway they are laid out has certainly been a recipe for success.
With Cameron’s development program Jordan Spieth will soon become a Major championship winner. More about Cameron’s development programs in my next stories and hopefully with Jordan Spieth performing at his best.