Get Out of the Trap
It’s midnight. I’m laying in bed, but I’m not asleep. Instead I’m watching recaps of the day’s matches at the World Chess Championship.
I’d like to tell this only happened once, but that would be a lie.
As I wrote about HERE, chess has proved to be a wonderful lens for studying golf. In this instance, however, I needed my golf experience to help my chess and save me from the YouTube Trap. I hope this lesson helps to save you.
This Lesson Is For You If:
You’ve ever found yourself diving down the rabbit hole of golf YouTube videos
Defining the Problem
When I use terms like “YouTube Trap,” “deep diving,” or “going down the rabbit hole,” I’m talking about sitting in front of YouTube for extended stretches of time watching video after video. I would also include being subscribed to dozens of golf channels.
The other half of the problem is thinking that these videos are helping your game. To that point, I find swing videos much worse than equipment videos. I don’t think anyone watches a driver review expecting to play better golf. However, many people watch swing tips and expect them to magically fix their game.
It’s easy to laugh at this notion from a distance. Even as I sit here and write it, it seems comical, outlandish. But those channels don’t rack up thousands of views without reason.
Why the YouTube Trap Is So Attractive
The first thing that makes the YouTube Trap so attractive is that it’s easy. With a couple clicks or taps, you can pull up a video and potentially learn something about the game. It takes a lot less effort to watch a video than to fix your swing, and you can do the former while sitting on the toilet.
Not only is it easy to watch one video on YouTube, it’s easy to watch ten. YouTube’s algorithm serves an unending stream of videos tailored perfectly to our desires. And if they cue up a stinker, one click brings up a better one. There’s no limit! We can watch all night if we want to.
On top of the ease, it’s fun to learn. When we watch a video, a light may go on – “Oh, I’ve never thought of it like that!” Even more intoxicating, the video might ignite hope – “That’s it! Now I’ve got this figured out!”
Finally, one of the most attractive things about the YouTube Trap is one of the worst things for your game: the wide range of different voices. There are thousands of explanations of how to hit a draw. None of them are inherently good or bad, but putting all of them into your head is a recipe for disaster. And that’s exactly what YouTube does: “Here are five different instructors with five different ways to feel a draw.” Good luck focusing the next time you pick up a club.
Outside of golf, my two favorite hobbies are chess and playing guitar. While I consume virtually zero golf media, I am voracious with YouTube videos, TikToks, and websites about chess and guitars.
Despite watching hours and hours of high level chess games, I am a very mediocre chess player. Even though I watch attentively, listening along and trying to engage with the dissection of each position, watching and playing are two completely different things. I think I know the right moves to make, but when I have control of the pieces, I know nothing. Because I haven’t actually practiced.
The same holds true of my guitar playing. I’ve watched dozens of videos on music theory, but I haven’t put the work in myself. Watching a tutorial is fine, if it’s the prelude to actual practice. Without having my fingers on the instrument, those tutorials might as well be episodes of Jeopardy.
How to Get Better at Golf
Practice. That’s it. There is no magic. That said, I do have some specific, practical advice for those that are down the YouTube rabbit hole.
If you really want to get out of the trap, delete the YouTube app off your devices. If you can’t stomach that, unsubscribe from the golf channels. Turn off the notifications. Stop letting your phone tell you, “Hey, it’s time to watch another golf video.” If you truly can’t live without golf videos, pick one channel. Find one instructor that you think is good and watch them exclusively.
The other key thing that you must do to avoid the YouTube Trap is to recognize that watching videos is not practice. In most cases, watching a video is nothing more than entertainment. If you take it as that, there’s no problem. And when you recognize that, you might start using more of your time for actual practice.