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TR1PTIK

A Book Review (of sorts)

Have you read The Practice Manual by Adam Young?  

4 members have voted

  1. 1. Have you read Adam Young's book The Practice Manual: The Ultimate Guide for Golfers?

    • Yes.
      1
    • No.
      3
  2. 2. Did you enjoy the book?

    • Yes.
      1
    • No.
      0
    • I didn't read it.
      3


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Posted (edited)

I've included a quick poll out of curiosity to see how many of our forum members have read the book and whether or not you liked it. Please see my own thoughts below and feel free to comment. I do not intend to bash the book, but if a golf coach is going to tout their book as "The Ultimate Guide" or claim it as "The book everyone has been waiting for" then they better have a good product. I think Adam Young misses the mark a little.

Introduction

So I finally finished Adam Young’s book The Practice Manual: The Ultimate Guide for Golfers. I purchased the book because I had read some generally good comments about it, but didn’t know much more about the book itself or the author. I can’t say I know much more about the author now than I did before (other than he’s a golf coach somewhere in Europe), but I can say I have a much better knowledge of the book. Overall, I’ve got to say it was a bit underwhelming…

Now, before I dive into the things I didn’t like about the book let me preface by saying that the book does have merit and can offer a lot of help to the right reader. Quite frankly, it could help me quite a bit as well – with a few tweaks. Also, I am by no means an expert on the English language or literature, but I have participated in various writing classes throughout my years and I do read a lot of books and magazines on a wide variety of topics so I know enough to recognize good writing and not-so-good writing when I see it.

Where the book misses the mark…

Let’s just start with how the book was written and published – this alone can account for the majority of my feelings about it. It is evident from the book’s cover and copyright pages, that this is a self-published book. There is no credit given to any publishers or even an editor which creates a significant problem for me. Typos. Typos everywhere. Literally, there are easy-to-catch typos throughout all 385 pages of the book. This makes the book difficult for someone like myself to read because I notice every single instance of a misspelling, revised sentence (where the author didn’t delete a word), and bad key stroke. Along the same vein, there are a number of poorly chosen words. Some of this could simply be accounted for by the differences between American English and British English. Other times, he just uses the wrong word, or he muddies a sentence that could be simplified with the right word. Though seemingly small, things like this cause his message to lose its meaning at times and make the book overly complex in spots when it just doesn’t need to be.

Speaking of complex, the author spends an awful lot of time adding complexity to non-complex things. Sometimes (though rare), he does the opposite and glosses over complex topics and fails to provide adequate detail or quality sources through which one could easily learn more. One thing in particular that bothered me – and this is really just a personal preference – is the use of Wikipedia as source material in one chapter. If you want to use Wikipedia for research that’s fine, but I’ve never been able to bring myself to actually quote from it. I’ll either use the Wikipedia page to navigate to source material or research further to confirm that what I’ve read is accurate. This is mostly a matter of habit from growing up and the way academia treats Wikipedia – it’s a big no, no. Anyway (rant over)… Aside from the chapter on ball flight laws, I got very little out of the book until around chapter eight. In fact, I recall reading one chapter (six maybe) and at the end telling myself, “That was a complete waste of time”. This was largely due to the amount of “fluff” and word vomit added to either convey knowledge (possible) or meet some sort of word count objective (likely). There is still some information contained within the first seven chapters worth reading, but it’s about the equivalent of finding specs of gold rather than nuggets.

Onto the good…

Once I reached chapter eight, the book began to offer a lot more to me in terms of value. Though still littered with typos and needlessly confusing sentences, the subject matter was much more engaging and I found myself pondering how to apply the lessons to my own game with greater frequency. Chapter 10 is where the real meat of this book begins and the later chapters are the ones most likely to be re-visited (aside from the ball flight laws chapter). Adam does a decent job of expressing his thoughts on learning and performance training in chapters 10 through 15 which are broken down into phases of training. The final chapter (16), presents the concept of periodization in training and provides three case-studies at the end to show how everything ties together – from identifying faults, how to test, what to focus on, what to practice/train, and how to train. The case studies are what I probably found most useful as it was hard for me to really put the pieces together as I was reading through everything. The case studies really clear that up and I think the book would be lost on a lot of golfers if not for the inclusion of them.

Conclusion

All things said, the book is still worth reading. Particularly if you are new to golf or at least new to books on golf instruction. A lot of what is said in Adam’s book has been said in better terms by other writers, but few of those books aspire to be as all-encompassing as The Practice Manual. I think if Adam were to release a second edition or revised version of this book in which he cleaned things up a bit more and/or worked with an editor to give the book better direction, he’d have a real hit. In its current form however, this book will never make my short list of recommended readings – the potential is there though.

Edited by TR1PTIK
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Nice review. This book occasionally pops up on my list of books to get. I have subscribed to his newsletter and gone to his site multiple times. Based on the title I expect it to be a book on practice approaches and specific drills to accomplish the topics he discusses on the pay portion of his site. Most reviews seem to indicate that this isnt what the book is about and it should be avoided if that is what you are looking for

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I have not read it.  I have read a number of books on golf instruction over the years.  This one doesn't sound as if it will add any significant value over what books are already in my library.  Thanks for taking the time to offer your review.

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I have read the book as well. While I don’t have the time right now to provide a lengthy review I will say one of the tips I found most valuable was practicing hitting full shots with the ball in widely varying positions within your stance from in front of your lead leg to behind your trail leg (and everyplace in between) I have added this to my range sessions by hitting 10-20 balls in this manner just trying to put center face contact on the ball. It does wonders for your confidence and your ability to get the club on the ball correctly from different positions. You can also do the same thing from different lies and slopes. As we all know when you are playing golf on the course it is rarely a flat lie like the range. Ultimately the task remains the same of controlling the clubface to make good contact and direct the ball toward the target. I have found that this has helped me a bunch- give it a try.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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50 minutes ago, cnosil said:

Nice review. This book occasionally pops up on my list of books to get. I have subscribed to his newsletter and gone to his site multiple times. Based on the title I expect it to be a book on practice approaches and specific drills to accomplish the topics he discusses on the pay portion of his site. Most reviews seem to indicate that this isnt what the book is about and it should be avoided if that is what you are looking for

It does do a decent job of explaining how golfers should go about practicing and offers tests and drills to make the most of your range sessions. It just takes FOREVER to get there. Later on in the book he lays out some half-decent templates for practice and uses the case studies for examples - so it will do what you expect it will, but there's a lot of nonsense included as well.

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51 minutes ago, CarlH said:

I have not read it.  I have read a number of books on golf instruction over the years.  This one doesn't sound as if it will add any significant value over what books are already in my library.  Thanks for taking the time to offer your review.

I think this is part of the reason why I didn't enjoy it quite as much as I had hoped I would. I've already read a number of golf instruction books and articles so there wasn't a ton of new information, just a different take on things I had already read. Nonetheless, I wanted to read the entire book and give it a fair shake - even though I wanted to toss it in the bin by chapter five. You never know when or where you might find that "ah-ha" moment and I didn't want to come on here with a mostly negative review having not actually read the entire thing.

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24 minutes ago, GrGmEvPl18! said:

I have read the book as well. While I don’t have the time right now to provide a lengthy review I will say one of the tips I found most valuable was practicing hitting full shots with the ball in widely varying positions within your stance from in front of your lead leg to behind your trail leg (and everyplace in between) I have added this to my range sessions by hitting 10-20 balls in this manner just trying to put center face contact on the ball. It does wonders for your confidence and your ability to get the club on the ball correctly from different positions. You can also do the same thing from different lies and slopes. As we all know when you are playing golf on the course it is rarely a flat lie like the range. Ultimately the task remains the same of controlling the clubface to make good contact and direct the ball toward the target. I have found that this has helped me a bunch- give it a try.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

This is one of the things I did enjoy. Though I've seen it suggested by other authors, it's always nice to see that reminder and he does offer some ways to measure the effectiveness of such practice that others have not. I will certainly be trying out some of his suggestions despite my opinions on the book as a whole.

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Nice write up, @TR1PTIK.

Laying my cards on the table: I'm a big fan of a lot of Adam's work. I read his blog posts regularly, and have access to both his Strike Plan and Next Level Golf video series.

All that said, The Practice Manual is definitely not a normal golf book. I totally concur with you on the frustration of reading it because of the need for an editor; if I had the time, I almost want to contact Adam and do a round of editing for him.

For me, I've found a lot of help in The Practice Manual as I work with my son. I think the book's emphasis on skill rather than technique is solid. His chapter on focus during the swing has been very helpful to me.

The difficulty of the book is that, by and large, it isn't about golf at all. It's about learning theory. While there are ideas in the book that have specific application to a golf swing (ball flight laws, for instance), most of the rest of the book doesn't. In essence, it is like picking up a book that you think is about car repair, but as you read it, it seems to only be about repair shop administration, with almost nothing about fixing cars in the book. That's an obvious negative if you come to the book expecting direct help with your game.

___________________________

TL;DR: I think The Practice Manual is a helpful book, but it is not a golf book in the normal sense. Those looking for golf instruction will find little in it. But if you're into the theory of learning, there's a lot there (if you can get past the need for editing).

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1 minute ago, GolfSpy MPR said:

Nice write up, @TR1PTIK.

Laying my cards on the table: I'm a big fan of a lot of Adam's work. I read his blog posts regularly, and have access to both his Strike Plan and Next Level Golf video series.

All that said, The Practice Manual is definitely not a normal golf book. I totally concur with you on the frustration of reading it because of the need for an editor; if I had the time, I almost want to contact Adam and do a round of editing for him.

For me, I've found a lot of help in The Practice Manual as I work with my son. I think the book's emphasis on skill rather than technique is solid. His chapter on focus during the swing has been very helpful to me.

The difficulty of the book is that, by and large, it isn't about golf at all. It's about learning theory. While there are ideas in the book that have specific application to a golf swing (ball flight laws, for instance), most of the rest of the book doesn't. In essence, it is like picking up a book that you think is about car repair, but as you read it, it seems to only be about repair shop administration, with almost nothing about fixing cars in the book. That's an obvious negative if you come to the book expecting direct help with your game.

___________________________

TL;DR: I think The Practice Manual is a helpful book, but it is not a golf book in the normal sense. Those looking for golf instruction will find little in it. But if you're into the theory of learning, there's a lot there (if you can get past the need for editing).

 

I can agree with that. Having read other materials on learning and performance, I didn't find the idea of learning theory off putting in any way even if it wasn't what I quite expected from his book. However, I do think he could have done a better job expressing his thoughts. This is what made the first seven chapters difficult to read. The subject matter was interesting, but it was clear by his writing that he had a lot to say and struggled at times with direction. That's what made those chapters complex - not so much the subject itself. This is also where I would have liked to see him cite a few credible sources and include data from actual scientific studies. As someone not completely unfamiliar with those topics, I'd like the opportunity to learn more and these chapters just didn't offer that to me. 

I'm glad you commented because I know you've been reading the book and following online based on what I've read in your own thread.

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