What do Motocross and Golf have in common? Nothing physically, but mentally, and especially when learning the techniques of each, they have a lot in common.
A few years back I had the opportunity to receive golf lessons from a former professional golfer, who for the last decade has been teaching golf lessons, much like I do for Motocross. My stepson David Kilgore met Paul Bryan while he was teaching in Florida. David traded off some golf lessons for some Motocross lessons with Paul. David's golf game improved dramatically, so I thought I might as well give it a try as well. Paul, now in his late 40s loves to ride Motocross, although he's about as good in Motocross as I am at golf, ha ha. So, the exchange of lessons worked really well for the three of us.
Before my three days of golf lessons with Paul, I really never enjoyed the little bit of golf I had played. I definitely never had professional lessons before and the bit of information I acquired in my past about golfing techniques was mostly wrong, so I had terrible techniques when it came to hitting the golf ball. After Paul watched my swing and gave me the techniques in little groups that I could work on, my golf swing and the consistency of hitting the ball where I wanted improved dramatically. That was just in three short lessons and me practicing for about four days.
I also noticed, when I went to the driving range after a few days, I expected to hit the ball far and look pretty good. But in reality, I just wasn't ready for that yet and the more I tried to hit it good and hard, the more frustrated I got. I realized something - here I am on the other end of the teaching and learning process and I was making the common mistake of trying too hard for my ability. This is the exact same thing I harp on to the riders I teach. I'm always telling them they need to slow down in order to learn new techniques. And here I was making the exact same mistake with my golf lessons. Needless to say, that whole practice session just wasn't going my way and was not enjoyable.
Golf has a lot in common with Motocross
After a few days, I got back on the driving range but this time with a completely different attitude. I didn't expect to hit the ball really hard and really far. I just concentrated on the techniques Paul taught me. Techniques like how I was holding, standing and swinging the club. Paul was there again to give me more tips and build from what I had already learned. He kept telling me not to worry about where the ball was going but to just focus on the techniques of my entire swing, and believe me, there are a lot of techniques in a simple thing like a golf swing.
When I did this I was hitting the ball better than ever and really having a lot of fun. As a result, I thought a lot about the comparisons between golf lessons and Motocross lessons. How important is it to focus on individual techniques separately until you acquire the skill to do them automatically without thinking about them? The same thing with the golf swing, you have to do each part of it perfectly over and over, being conscious of the techniques that you are working on and then over a period of time they become automatic.
I tell you again, if you want to enjoy Motocross more and be safer with more control, and of course more fun, you benefit most from slowing down and learning to do the techniques correctly. Then through repetition they become automatic. But before you can get to that point, you have to think about and focus on each little group of techniques. So you make sure you're doing them correctly at a slow pace, slow enough that you can do the techniques correctly and it doesn't really take that long.
You'll be surprised how quickly you can learn them as they become easier and easier. As you do this you'll have so much more fun riding because you start to feel the improvements. I know that's what I'm going to do with my golf game, take it a little bit at a time and enjoy the process of improving my techniques. I urge you to do the same with your Motocross skills.
Ride hard, ride smart and have fun,
About Gary Semics:
I have found that I have a real knack for teaching and it has become my goal to train Motocross riders around the world. In order to reach all you MX enthusiasts, I produced the Gary Semics Motocross Techniques DVD Series. The 3 volume series presently includes 20 technique DVDs, 2 motocross fitness training DVDs, The 2 Day MX School DVD, some other standalone DVDs, one historic DVD called "The Evolution of Motocross," 2 CDs and a Motocross Practice Manual for a total of 28 DVDs as of September 2015. The DVDs can also be Streamed.