How to Apply the Information Processing Model For Golf Improvement

The information processing model involves the storage of information in memory, the retrieval of information from memory, and the execution of a movement in response to information (Keele). This sounds interesting, and useful for golf. This article is about applying the knowledge we know about the information processing model, for improved golf.

To begin, the human memory system consists of 3 stores of memory: The Sensory Information Store; Short Term Memory; and Long Term Memory. It’s important to understand how all 3 stores work in order for us to use our memories most effectively.

The first stage in the memory system is the Sensory Information Store, sometimes called the sensory register (Cox). The sensory register has the ability to hold vast amounts of information, but only for very brief time periods. So short in fact, that information is only stored in the sensory register for up to one half second. The information stored briefly in the sensory store enters via input from our senses: vision, hearing, touch, smell and taste.

Information is then passed on into the hub of the Information Processing System: Short term memory. Short term memory is the hub of the Information Processing system because it receives information from the sensory store, as well as permanent memory. The key thing about Short term memory is that information is lost unless it is either highly significant, or rehearsed and memorised quickly. For example, if you received a tip from your swing coach, and practised the tip only once for example, it is likely that that tip will be forgotten.

It is sufficient to conclude that if a person rehearses information in the Short term memory for 20 to 30 seconds, it will then be passed onto to long term memory storage. The effectiveness of a person’s short term memory capacities are also assisted by their ability to skilfully chunk information, that is, the processing of combining several separate pieces into larger ones. For example, a golfer may remember golf swing technique easy by chunking information into categories such as ‘the set up, backswing, and downswing’ for example, making it easier to remember information about the swing.

Information sufficiently chunked and rehearsed in Short term will be passed on into Long term memory. Different to the Sensory register and Short term memory, information in Long term memory is permanent. Information in Long Term memory can be continually updated in conjunction with Short term memory. For example, if a golfer rehearses a swing tip sufficiently, and it works, he/she will then store that information permanently.

The other thing to note about Long term memory is that information is strengthened by retrieving information into short term memory to rehearse it. Suffice to say, it’s important to complete the Lesson recap and Monthly audit exercises I’ve designed below:

1) Conduct a ‘Lesson recap’ following swing lessons.

Purchase a book to be used as a lesson diary. In the evening following a swing lesson, write down the instruction given to you by your coach, for example: ‘soften the right elbow on the backswing when chipping, allowing your right arm to hinge at the elbow’. Below this, write down adjectives to describe how the new movement feels when executed properly. For example: ‘relaxed’, or ‘soft’ would match the above instruction. Finally, write down a goal for ingraining this new technique into your game. For example: my goal is to have my right arm hinge to feel natural, and to happen unconsciously in my swing in 4 weeks time.

2) Conduct a ‘Monthly audit’ of great golf shots

This exercise related to strengthening Long term memory and also making it easier for great swings to be recalled when competing. At the end of every month, write down the best 10 shots you played during that month. Write them down in the following categories:

– Approx date:
– Course played:
– Hole played:
– Club Used:
– What the key was to such a good shot: And lastly,
– What adjective would you use to describe how the shot felt:

Keep these in the same diary as your lesson recaps. At the end of each year, re read through your best month’s shots and come up with the years 10 best shots!