Once a new student starts hitting balls to warm up and hits one a little off line I like to ask “Is that a typical miss?” The answers astound me! Rarely is a player self aware enough or honest enough with them selves to truly evaluate and find patterns within their own game. To me pattern recognition is one of the first and most important things we talk about. How many times have you sliced a ball 50 yards 20 shots in a row then hit one hook and say “I have to fix that hook, it kills me!”. Don’t laugh you have done it. Keeping stats can help you start to recognize what a typical miss can be, but even more direct than that is can you tell on which part of the club you hit the ball? Using impact tape, foot spray, or a modern launch monitor can set you on the fast track to diagnosing your pattern. Once you have a pattern its time to go to work! Forget all the technical stuff, forget what your buddy says he did that worked for him and simply change the pattern. This is a hard concept for a lot of players to get comfortable with. They even tend to get angry with me when they hit a big slice and I ask them to hit a giant hook! I get a lot of “great now I have to fix a hook”. The reality of the situation is I just want them to feel what a different pattern will feel like. Taking a player out of their pattern or “comfort zone” is often a scary place for players but it is key to making a long lasting and repeatable change. I heard this called the “Christmas tree affect” somewhere. The idea behind the Christmas tree is simple if someone hits it way right, learn to hit it way left. Doesn’t much matter how you hit it the opposite just hit. Once you can consistently hit the ball the opposite of your pattern try to hit the ball back the other direction only a little less, keep repeating this back and forth pattern until you are hitting it straight. By feeling different movements and seeing different ball flights your body is breaking the pattern you want to get out of And building self awareness both physically and mentally.