Our guest this week Golf Master Coach, Steve Bann on Coaching the world’s best golfers, confidence and the improvement lifecycle.
Here is what Stuart Appleby had to say about our guest. “I have worked with Steve Bann since I was 18 years old and he is my coach to this day. Steve has helped me shape my game in every aspect from the start and helped me win on the nationwide PGA tour and internationally. Steve is the most knowledgeable coach in the world and can help any golfer of any skill level achieve their goals.”
Steve is a partner in BannLynchMcDade, and the team have coached their students to 29 USPGA Tour wins and multiple international amateur and professional titles. After turning professional in 1979, Steven played on the Australian PGA Tour from 1981 to 1996. Since 1996, Steve has travelled the world, coaching at over 40 Majors and five Presidents’ Cups. His students, who have included, Stuart Appleby, K J Choi, Robert Allenby, and he has given lessons to many notables, including Ian Baker-Finch, Greg Norman, Vijay Singh, and Adam Scott. He is the author of Simply Golf: Back to Basics. Steve Bann, welcome to the show.
Quotes and Key Points Made by Steve Bann
- The one thing that we all had in common was we all loved to compete. We loved to play the game and loved to compete. We didn’t have any technology. There was no high speed video cameras, and force plates, and launch monitors, and … but we all found a way to play. The conditions of the golf courses were terrible. Some of them were dry, some of them were sloppy, so the grain on the grass … Gravity’s supposed to make the ball go that way, but the grain was so strong that it would actually go against the gravity. You just had to figure out your way of being able to score. Along the way, we learnt to deal with adversity. We learnt to find ways to get on with doing what we were trying to do, trying to do better, and were all pushing at each other, at a competitive level, and yet, we were all supporting each other. It was like a team.
- I think people focus on technique so much, because it’s tangible. You can see it. Somebody hits a bad shot, you can say, “Oh, I hit that bad shot, because I did this. If I then work on fixing that, then I won’t hit bad shots anymore.” There’s always something to work on. I’m too flat, I’m too upright, I’m swaying, I’m sliding, I’m spinning out. There’s always something. An interesting stat is that there’s more books written on golf technique than every other sport in the world combined, and yet, golfers still aren’t improving.
- Focusing on technique, and I think you fall into that trap, which we call a reactive cycle. When something goes wrong, you’re always trying to fix it. The reactive cycle is always trying not to do something, and that’s not a good cycle to get on. In golfing terms, I hit a slice, I’m trying not to hit a slice.
- How do you fix a slice? You teach somebody to hook the ball.
- I was asked by the ESPN interview a few years ago, who I thought some of the great coaches in the world were, and I said I’d have to put Mike Furyk, Jim Furyk’s dad, right up there, ’cause he’s actually a golf coach. They said, “How could you say that?” I said, “‘Cause Jim Furyk swings … as David [inaudible 00:19:42] said, he swings like an octopus falling out of a tree.” No one ever asks why the octopus was up there, but that’s what it looks like. But he gets the job done.
I’ve heard Mike Furyk say that, “Jim used to come down after school, hit some balls, I’d get him to hit some draws and fades, and highs and lows.” He said, “I knew it didn’t look right, but I didn’t know enough about technique to try and fix anything, so I just let him go.” To me, he’s a great coach. He had him hitting shots, learning to play, didn’t interfere and say, “You won’t be able to play well until you do these things right.” There’s another world champion golfer for a long period of time who’s done it his own way.
- I couldn’t agree more. In golf, we bring it down to the technical, physical, tactical, and mental side, and if we use the improvement cycle model, the idea is … Let’s just say we can run one month improvement cycles. If you’ve got an improvement cycle going technically, physically, mentally, and strategically every month, times 12 every year, you have to be making progress.
- Make an assessment and … The assessment’s the important part to get right, because if we make an assessment and we come up with the incorrect conclusion, then we set ourselves on a pathway, which is going to be potentially a waste of time. But at least, at the end of that, if we reassess, we can then go, “Okay, that wasn’t the right step forward.” Make an assessment, set a goal, which has to be realistic, based on time and capability to be fair. There’s no point setting goals that somebody probably isn’t ready for and not capable of doing. Put activities in place to achieve that goal, come back and reassess. It’s standard golf setting, but if you do it across one physical, one mental, one tactical …
- Just on that coffee and the diet, I’ve worked out very early on, that if I have a coffee before I play, I’ve got the yips on the first green. ‘Cause you add the caffeine to the nervous anticipation of playing a sport, and then it’s just, the whole thing is compounded. The big three in golf are hydration, caffeine, and sugar.
- We have to talk about confidence in a language that people understand and they get. We like to call it, knowing
I like to say that negative confidence works 100% of the time, and the unfairness of golfers’ positive confidence, works between 50 and 70%. But negative works every time. Every time.
- The confidence is knowing, so we try to prepare to know, and the only way you can prepare to know, the difference between optimism and faith. They’re closely linked. Self advocacy. All those things we need, self belief, we need all of those things to drive the confidence, but confidence is knowing, so you can’t know something until you’ve actually experienced it, so how do we rehearse to experience it? In golf, technique. I say that technique is only 30% of confidence. You get your technique perfect and at best, you’ll only be 30%. The next 30% is skills. In golf, there’s 11 shot categories; driver, fairway, woods, long irons, mid irons, short irons, chipping, pitching, bunkers, and short, middle, long putts. There’s 11 categories. There’s about nine skills in each of those categories; high, low, normal, draw, fade, and straight. There’s about eight [inaudible 00:33:58], and there’s about eight different wins. There’s about 6500 skills.
- That’s why getting back to the WAFWOM tour, that was … we didn’t realise what we were learning along the way, was to deal with all of these different skills and ways of, “Okay, when that happens, I do this, because last time it happened, I learnt from it,” and that’s what knowing is. By practising all of the skills, so turning the technique into the skills gives us 60% of confidence. Well, hang on. Where’s the next? Well, that’s … in golf, we call it testing. You’ve got to test something, you’ve got to put it into a test situation where you challenge it, and you test it, and you see whether it actually works.
The biggest intimidation in golf is the boundaries. It’s never the target. It’s what’s around the target is the intimidation,
The four step routine is actually five, but the four steps is, number one, decide on the shot. You do an analysis of distance, wind, and all that sort of stuff. Number two, is prepare for the shot. When you’re preparing for the shot, you’re having your practise swings or you’re visualising, theorising, you’re preparing for the shot. Hopefully, you’re repeating a swing that you know has succeeded in the past. This is just like that shot.
- Drawing on your memory bank. Number three, is the set up routine; grip, stance, ball, position, posture, and aim. Now you’re setting up for that shot that you’ve decided on playing, prepared to play, set up to play. Step four in the routine, is the easiest thing to do and the hardest thing to do at the same time. The reason it is the easiest thing to do is ’cause there is no further thought required. The reason it is the hardest thing to do, is because there is no further thought required. You’ve got to get out of your way and trust and commit, and only you know, on every individual shot, whether you actually do that.
Step four is hit it without rethinking it. I’ve heard Tiger Woods say in interviews after shooting over par, “Tiger, what went wrong today? You shot three over.” “I was happy with my execution on every shot today.” What he’s talking about is he decided, he saw it, felt it, set up for it, and executed it … it just didn’t happen.
- It’s knowing. Knowing. How do we create situations? First of all we have to imagine it and decide what we’re going to do when it happens, but then prepare for it as much as possible, and have all of our contingencies in place. Then we just keep growing with that, but I think the most vital step, which these days most people understand the principles behind
Everything that stays in our longterm memory is, because there was an emotional shift attached to it. We might remember a first bike, and our 12 year old birthday party, and all of those type of things. We don’t know what we were doing the day before or the day after. Sometimes, we’re too hard on ourselves and there’s more emotion attached to our failures, negative emotions then, than there is to our successes. Eventually, in our memory bank, in that longterm memory bank, there’s an imbalance. There’s way more successes, but because we were prepared for that, that was going to happen anyway, we don’t actually acknowledge it and anchor it as much as we
- I think Tiger Woods is brilliant at this. We see Tiger get angry and throw clubs, and curse, do all of those things, but we’ve seen, when he does something that only Tiger Woods does, gets super excited, and pumped up, and dance across the green pumping his fist. I said, “Tiger, you just holed a six foot putt. You’ve done that a million times.” What’s he doing? He’s making sure that the emotional anchoring of that success outweighs the human anchor.
- I call it human, because we’re human beings. Of course, you’ve got to get angry. You’ve got to get frustrated, because that’s what drives you to get better, but if that’s all we can remember, ’cause that’s the only thing we have emotional shifts attached to, eventually, you just can’t see yourself succeeding at anything.
- Learn to find out … to simplify, to find out what works and stop doing all the stuff, all the filler around it that we think we have to do, because that’s what’s been done in the past. Why are we doing this stuff? How is it actually helping? So just filter out all the stuff that doesn’t really help us get where we want to go. But a final message is, reframe learning to love what you do. The moment you stop loving what you do, I think that’s when things start to unravel, and then we do start to react, and then motivation for doing things becomes, probably not the right motivation. If we love what we do and then we can analyse what we do and realise that so much of this stuff is just wasted time, and effort, and energy, I think they’ll have a lot more fun.