GIVE INCONSISTENCY IT'S DUE         By Michael Hebron  

Inconsistency when seen as a negative that can prevent golfers from performing up to their potential . Neuroscientists have demonstrated that inconsistency can be a useful element of  playing golf .  When Padraig  Harrington said "consistency is highly overrated , people who are consistent are mediocre ",he was spot on according to respected research into the brains connection to learning and performing .

Outstanding performances in golf tournaments are never consistent . They all had the inconsistency of wanted and unwanted outcomes , along with recovery shots . It is often said " this player is good , but to be great they need to be more consistent " , not so .
It seems  that players become great when they learn to accept the value of
inconsistency .  Striving for consistency and perfection has often done more harm then good .

Studies at Harvard (where I have taken classes ) show after individuals ( ie. Tiger , Phil , Rory )have an outstanding performance , the brain is designed to
have a  natural fallback in performance outcomes , then restart from a more advanced place then in the past.

Unwanted outcomes are not in need of fixing , they are aways a natural element of interacting with our environment .

The message  ,accept inconsistency .
Harvard's Dr. Fischer called them , " desirable developmental difficulties" that we can learn from .

UCLAs Dr, Robert Bjork (who I have spent time with ) and other scientists  have shown that inconsistency is a valuable and necessary requirement of reaching ones potential . It's  not failure . . ( Unless your Irish catholic  like me ) .

Trying to fix what was functional in the past is overlooking golf is a game of streaks and these unwanted outcomes should be accepted as part of playing a game .
The natural ups and downs of playing a game provides valuable information for trial and error adjustments . Studies show unwanted outcomes are more useful for learning then wanted outcomes by a margin of 3or4 to one . Learning -developing studies recommends introducing unwanted outcomes during training , this helps individuals understand and learn what works and what does not  for them .

The PGA and LPGA tours keep statistics on inconsistency . .Tour players only hit 60% of the fairways, make only 15% of their 10 to 15 ft putts and hit just 60% of the greens on good days .
Traditional thinking wants to fix unwanted outcomes  which  would not be a brain compatible approach to learning . It's  been demonstrated that acts of fixing do not support meaningful learning , buy having a positive picture of what you want to do and staying away from fixing ideas does support improvement .

The real value of inconsistency is being overlooked in a golf culture that promotes perfection over the experience of playing a game .

PGA call letters should stand for "Pleasurable Game for  All"  and not Perfect Golf Alignments.  

Inconsistency is one  of the things that is consistent about business ,  and inconsistency is used as positive feedback for future use in the business world .  Unfortunately sports coaching and schools often see inconsistency as a negative in need of fixing .No golfer , professional or amateur can predict what their score will be on the first tee , and the outcome of every swing they make will be a bit of a surprise .

Inconsistency and  not consistency is found  at every level of golf .

I tell students "Golfs not hard , it's just inconsistent and your unwanted outcomes are a valuable component of your progress ".

A golfer may say " That was easy " , after a game that went well , then after a game of unwanted outcomes the same golfer may say " I have to fix this or that "  . But there really is nothing to work on , we are human beings , not perfect performing machines , which is why we have inconsistent outcomes .  


Nothing is broken in need of fixing . We are not designed to miss puts or hit poor shots , but we do.

Suggestion : .  Let inconsistency be your friend , it is already your learning brains best friend . Perhaps this is a counterintuitive insight , but it is a useful one .

Go train in a proactive way that emphasizes the use of the golf club : where do you want the golf club shaft, head and face alined as they swing through impact for the shot you are playing . Then - and this is critical - accept all outcomes , wanted and unwanted , and avoid what respected research has shown are negative acts of trying to fix body motions .Just picture what to do with the club and the body will follow .

I have learned players who are accepting the value of inconsistency are more likely to reach their potential .

Giving up the habit of thinking about what one believed went wrong may be a leap
of faith , but studies show it is a step in the direction of brain compatible learning .