Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Age and Coaching

Age and coaching get better with each passing season.  I know it might be hard to believe that age gets better, but for me, it does.  It has given me a clear idea of what I want, what I love and where I'm going.  Mostly, it has allowed me to get a firm grasp of what is important.  As you age, you begin to lose people.  You lose your parents, friends who go too soon, heroes you had growing up and extended family who were the foundation of your life.  It wakes you up to a sense of urgency as well as slows you down to enjoy people and time with them.  In that way, I have a firmer grasp of what's important.  I don't worry too much about what isn't important to me, either.

My second year of coaching -1993.  We played well at the Betsy Rawls, which is always fun.
L to R: Kristina Edfors, Isabelle Rosberg, Aurora Kirchner, Jamie Hullett and Lisa Allee
I stay in touch with all of these young ladies and they still make me smile.


How does that relate to coaching?  It gives me a perspective of watching countless young ladies go from hesitant, giggling high schoolers to successful young women with family, careers and purpose.  The years in between, I try to help them find their way.  We use golf as the common ground and it is a very steadfast pursuit that teaches all the lessons needed in life, if the player chooses to learn them.  It teaches self-reliance, resilience, focus, work ethic, positive mindset and most importantly, failure and how to handle it.  My job is as a guide through these years.  Here is what we do (golf), here is how we do it (with excellence and intention) and here is what results (performance, character and clarity).

As a coach who just turned 57, I still want to react to failure as I did when I was 25.  I want to run from it, then pout about it and then act like I'm above it and then decide to forget about it.  However, that way of being didn't allow me to do much but stay in the same cycle.  I can't go so far as to say I embrace failure, because I still am not a good loser, as my father often told me as a kid.  I say that he "told" me, but I could say goaded me, teased me, taunted me or admonished me.  He knew it was my hamartia and that I needed to face it or it would get the better of me.  At 57, I can say that failure in any way is like my alarm clock.  It wakes me up to what needs changing, doing or understanding.  It is part of life and important.  I pay attention.

In coaching, we fail as a team and perform poorly.  I fail as a coach to teach or support in a meaningful way.  Players fail to do the right thing.  We all fail to communicate on a level that allows connection.  Accounting tests are failed.  Wake up calls are failed.  Speed limits are failed.  There isn't a day that goes by without some type of small failure.  Each and every small failure is isolated and means nothing.  That is what I've learned through experience.  None need to be permanent.  None need to point to bigger problems.  None need to be significant.  That is unless we make the ultimate failure and choose not to learn from them.  As a coach, I've learned that it is important to point out what specifically went wrong, what can be changed to get it going right and how it can be done.  For all of us, there needs to be a solution based approach to what we are doing and a focus on what we want to happen.  There needs to be an acknowledgement of the failure in order to learn from it.  There needs to be separation of what we do from who we are.

Seeing my players go on to happy lives is the best part of the job.
Elena Villamil and Jarret Shook were married at Our Lady of Covadonga in Northern Spain and I was lucky enough to attend.

Seeing my former players is always a treat and coupling it with a Guinness is even better!
Here I am with Danielle McVeigh in Dublin.  What a great one she is!


In my first year of coaching, my AD was Lynn Hickey.  She told me at our Southwest Conference Championship that the small problems I didn't take care of during the year would become big problems under the pressure of a championship round.  She told me this as I watched a player implode on the very first hole.  She was right.  However, it still took me time to be a brave enough coach to confront the small failures that needed acknowledgement; the slips of character that lead to the destruction of a team; the failure to prepare that leads to poor performance; the lack of respect that leads to a breakdown in relationships or the simple failure of being confident when there is no reason to feel that way.  The idea of keeping the peace or doing what is easy in the moment has no value to me as a 57 year old.  The more I age, the more I know what I want from myself, from my players and from my team around me.  That isn't to say that I get it, but it is to say that I will work tirelessly for it.  It is easy work, because I love it.  It is hard work because there is not a clear path to success, nor even a clear definition.  We've had years when we haven't won, yet the team clicked together, everyone was accountable, the work was put in and we all were better at the end of the year.  We've also had years where we had great results, yet selfishness was a common theme and it was every woman for herself.  Learning takes place in both situations, but to be a part of a small, close group of women who support each other allows learning to take place at a higher level with respect and communication at the core.  Those are the years that allow us to build character, relationships and wonderful memories.

The smiles we share on the golf course is the most common, yet the most special of enjoyments in the job of coaching.
Here I am sharing a smile with the woman with the million dollar smile, Brigitte Dunne.

Building relationships, networking and camaraderie and also wonderful parts of the job.
Neither one of these two players played for me, yet I feel close to them and supported them whenever possible.
Julia Boland and Casey Grice.


So, here's to being one of the few old coaches out here these days.  I finally feel like I know what I'm doing and I'm enjoying it more than ever.  I love my team and David and it feels like one of those years when we can really create strong team character, strong relationships and wonderful memories.  I think we can also work toward great results, but that part can't be the focus, it needs to be simply the result of our work, focus, support and vision.

Happiness as a coach!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Toughness Matters

Last week, I wrote a blog about getting caught up in problem-solving and the move I've made away from that in my coaching.  I've since deleted it and replaced it with this blog, because I've now seen the response to our week.  This philosophy isn't anything new.  If you read any of John Wooden's books, you'll soon realize the same ideas espoused and perhaps if I'd read more closely at a younger age, I would have caught on sooner.  However, I will say that I've now embraced it fully.  Even though we had a tough finish last week, we aren't going to stop what we are focused on and change our course.  Instead, we are going to do what we do and make it even tougher.



One year for our convention we went on a cruise.  I remember doing a coach's roundtable at that cruise and talking about tournament strategy without problem solving involved.  In other words, we worked to form game plans, mental strategies and sound games that would match what the course offered us in the way of scoring.  When things went wrong, we didn't necessarily look at the hole or the shots on the rough holes, but the game plan, the mental strategy and the skills.  Of course, that is still problem solving, but it is aimed at long-term growth instead of short-term gain.  I had a lot of coaches question that as ignoring the actual problems.  It was a very unusual way of looking at strategy for many.  However, if you want your players to become independent thinkers who are ready for the next step, whether that is the tour, business or family life, they need to understand that strategy is long-term and day-to-day events can't become knee jerk reasons to change your path.

We are very young this year and our scores have been up and down. I needed that reminder myself last week.  What are we lacking?  My two answers were short game and mental toughness.  We designed a very tough week of practice.  Most of the learning done, would be done the hard way.  We made scores double, triple and even quadruple to highlight weaknesses.  Not one player complained, talked about fairness or even failed to embrace it as a great way to play.  As a coach, I'm blown away by the great attitudes I saw and by the aptitudes for learning and growing.  The week has done it's trick and we got a little better than we were when we played poorly at UT last week.  I'm certain there will be more up and downs, but the scale is headed the right direction and this team will become great before they are finished.  Even though we have time since we have no seniors, there still must be a sense of urgency.  Four years flies by!

Working with a young team is a good thing if you can introduce your philosophy, have them embrace it and start to work hard on long-term growth.  Telling them that they lacked those skills wouldn't do much for them, but showing them by how we played our qualifiers has done the trick.  They rose to the challenge.  They toughened up or realized they lacked it and worked hard on short game and wedges.  They've asked for help, they've made adjustments and they've talked through what might be holding them back.  This won't lead directly to under par rounds, but it will allow them to be better than they were last week and that is the goal.



Onward and upward and a reminder to myself that tough practices make sense.  It's time to go back and grab some John Wooden books off the shelf and remind myself of what I've forgotten.  Toughness matters!


Just in case you're a golf coach who has a team who trusts you, here is our qualifier schedule this week.  I relented by not doubling the score of the first three holes today or the last three on Sunday.  At least I haven't yet.  



Sunday, September 10, 2017

My Gentle Teacher

My dad was a good man.  He passed in 1998 and I still miss him a lot.  He had a smile that lit up his eyes and he had bright blue eyes.  He was a hard working, but gentle man.  He had so much love for his family and he taught me so many lessons that I think about daily.  One of the most important lessons he taught me was to give my best.

Me and my dad, Gene Sutherland in 1983


Giving your best sounds very simplistic, but I knew as a teenager what that demanded.  If I had a bad day at basketball or golf, he would ask me one question.  "Did you give your best?"  He was a man of few words and when he asked this he would look me dead in the eyes.  No matter how bad my day was, if I looked him in the eyes and said, "yes" he would accept it and smile at me and say "that's all you can do."

That quick exchange might signal an easy give and take, but it was anything but easy.  In fact, if I had let my temper get in the way on the golf course or if I dogged it at basketball, I couldn't say yes.  It was hard to lie to my dad.  He seemed to know the truth, so lying was going to lead to disappointing him.  I learned early that it was better to be truthful and talk through my actions or inaction than to lie and disappoint him.

The simplicity of his question is often what's missing from young player's games.  The importance of scores, rankings and wins often makes acceptance hard to find.  Young players focus on the bottom line to the point that they often repeat their mistakes over and over, because they don't learn to give their best and accept that it was enough on any given day.  If you are a basketball player and you have a rough day, you might have teammates who get hot or someone who helps on defense when you get beat.  In golf, your rough days are simply rough days.  Your bad shots have to be chased down and played.  Your scores have to be posted.  No one is around to bail you out.  It is probably why golf was my favorite sport of the many that I played growing up.  The sense of accomplishment after a good day is unmatched in any other sport.


Back to my dad's question.  What if you asked yourself that question when you played?  If you did, what would lead to a yes or no?   For me as a young player, it was about my attitude.  Did I get disgusted with my scoring and start messing around?  Did I get angry and give up on myself a little bit?  Did I focus on what I could do with each shot?  These were the questions I learned to ask myself before I answered him.  These were my measures of whether or not I gave my best.  It never had a thing to do with the physical shots I hit, but always with how I reacted to the shots.  His question helped me accept rough days and to understand what lead to good days.

My dad was a basketball coach and what he effectively did with that one question was hand me the ball.  He was never the judge of my effort or score.  He always allowed me to be that judge.  He always accepted my answer, too, whether or not he believed it.  His disbelief showed and that was the disappointment I mentioned earlier.  That was harder for me to face than shooting 80.

This blog post might be more for the parents who read my blogs than for the players, but I think either would benefit from the same mentality.  Lots of players are eaten up with poor results while they are playing the game.  It is impossible to give your best with that mindset.  A focus on results changes your game plan, your confidence, your touch and your reactions.  You can hear people talk about process all you want, but if a double bogie sends you into a tailspin, you aren't thinking about your process out there and you aren't giving your best to the next shot or the day.

What if we all just took a deep breath and asked each other, "Hey, did you give your best there?"  Then, look that person in the eye and demand an honest answer.  Golf is a tough game and there will be many days when your best will fall short of good scores, wins or even your expectations, but by not giving your best, you will never know what you could get done.  Allow your son or daughter to be accountable for his or her best.  Players, give your best and accept the outcomes.  Tomorrow, you will have another chance to give it.



The last paragraph I'm writing is for those players who gave me their best as their coach and I didn't accept it.  I was caught up in results too.  I'm sorry for not recognizing your sincerity, your effort or your ability to do all you could with what you had.  I promise I will do better at doing my best as a coach and accept your answers just as my dad accepted mine.  By allowing my players to be completely accountable without question, they can actually understand the acceptance needed to do it.  Off we go into our first competition.  I'm going to ask my team to do their best.

Link to live scoring at the University of Tennessee's Mercedes Benz Invitational


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Commit to Learning 24/7

You want to be a learner.  You've watched Carol Dweck's videos and you know how important a learner's mindset is to you.  (Here's a link, just in case you haven't.)  You might have also read Grit by Angela Duckworth or Lynn Marriott's and Pia Nilsson's new book Be A Player, which both give Dweck's research a nod.  You know exactly how to act when you want to learn a new golf skill.  You are a champ at practice and evaluate results so you can make the proper adjustments.  Then you go out to play.

You miss a 3 footer and you lose your mind.  You hit two drives right and your focus becomes hitting perfect shots.  You get caught up in results, what isn't happening and what your swing or putting stroke needs to do to be better.  The learning mindset is great for the range, but when you are keeping score, it goes straight out the window.  If you can see the hole in your peripheral vision, how can you possibly accept a miss?  If a poor shot costs you one or two shots, you can't let that happen again! 

Instead of losing your mind and reacting to poor shots with anxiety, you can design and practice a post-shot routine that allows you to evaluate and decompress.  In other words, you can think it through and chill out.  Was it great?  If so, don't get too high or excited, because you will have to do it again in 5 minutes.  Was it horrible?  Same deal!  You have to find it and hit it again or worse yet, you have to get another ball, mark it and put it in play.  Either way, the round goes on.  How can you calm yourself?  How can you best prepare for your next shot?  Here's how:

Start with simple questions.  

1.  Did you prepare for the shot/putt and feel good about your decisions?
  • Yardage, target, shot shape, club choice, conditions, read, slopes, etc.
2.  Did you have a good pre-shot routine? 
  • Visualization, rhythm, commitment, balance, target choice, etc.
3.  Did you hit the shot as planned?  
  • Rhythm, balance, tempo, target awareness, tension-control, etc.
Everyone pays attention to different things to play good golf.  Some need to feel centered and connected.  Others need to put their hands on the club in a certain way.  Another player might need to be completely into the visualization of the ball flight.  Each person who plays the game is slightly different than the next.  It's up to you to figure out what your keys for greatness will be when you play.  When you do figure it out, make it an important part of your plan.  In other words, if feeling centered is important to you, focus on that both in your pre-shot and post-shot routines.  The point of a good post-shot routine is to ask the right questions.  

What are the right questions?  Questions that allow you to be a learner.  Questions that allow for awareness and adjustments.  Questions that fit in numbers 1, 2 and 3 above!  From asking and answering these questions, you can be aware of what you have done and what you need to do going forward.  You can make adjustments, change your focus, choose different targets, play the shot shape that is showing up today, spend more time in preparation, lower your center of gravity, walk more slowly, swing more smoothly or commit more deeply. 

The questions you ask yourself are huge.  Stay away from mechanics unless you had a plan to focus on a certain move.  Some people do well with a swing thought and you might be that player.  However, most players have a better chance of going low with a focus on the ball and target vs. the motion or positions of the swing.  Stay away from questions that have no answers, such as "what is wrong with me?" Stick with specifics and a plan for your post-shot routine.  Keep your awareness in front of you and make adjustments that will help you on the next shot.  The answer you want is one that leads to an action, not more thoughts.  

Commit to a learner's mindset whether you are on the practice range or the golf course.  Don't allow results to change your attitude or approach to the game.  The better you are at using competition as a learning environment, the sooner you will set pressure and perfectionism behind and be open to what your possibilities are on the course.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Be a Player and Get on the Bus!


Another year has started and once again, I'm amazed at the energy and enthusiasm of our team when they arrive on campus.  Our job as coaches is to channel the energy and keep the enthusiasm flowing.  These two tasks are our daily challenges and important tasks.  In the course of a year there are ups and downs, injuries, bad days, missed trips, double bogeys, failed exams and exhaustion.  The task isn't to make these things better, but to learn to take them in stride and rise to the next challenge when the alarm goes off for morning workouts.  There are a lot of great things happening in our lives, too.  There are breakthroughs, learning, fun galore, laughter, A's, rounds in the 60's and the most important to me seems to be the camaraderie we feel.  Learning to be a team is new for each group and one of the most important processes in life.  Working together is such a satisfying feeling.

We kicked off our year with the typical lllllooooonnnnnggggg meeting on Monday.  We had four speakers in who covered everything from rules to concussions.  We went over our rules and scribbled initials in our gear.  Then, the good stuff started.   The team talked about what we want our culture to look like, how we will build it and how it will show up in our daily lives.  We had a nice dinner and we finished up with the team's presentations of our summer reading.  The freshmen read the Energy Bus by Jon Gordon.  Whenever anyone joins us, that book best represents the behavior we want to see from them.



The freshmen did a great job of acting out the 10 rules needed to fuel life and our team.  They had fun and worked together and communicated the ideas to us.  They clearly got the point of the book and made it come to life.  Then the upperclassmen presented Be A Player by Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott.  Each of the four players took three chapters to present and it somehow seemed as though each got the chapters that fit them the best.  They talked through what they got from the chapters and how they are putting it into practice with their games.  They brought the book to life by relating the words to their own actions, desires and abilities.  It was impressive to watch the players all take ownership of what they want their teammates to know and work toward.



On Tuesday, we had our first practice.  It was designed to be fun, competitive and focused.  We played our Horse Course, which is a 9 hole par 3 that is very challenging and a wonderful playground for us.  All the players started together.  If a player made par, she moved on to the next hole.  A birdie allowed the player to skip a hole.  A bogey or higher meant walking back and playing the hole again.  The first player to the 9th hole won.  Ana Paula Ramirez birdied the 8th to win it.  She and freshman Lauren Chappell teed it up on the eighth together, but Lauren's par didn't keep her in the competition.  This is a great game, because while Lauren was playing the 9th hole, David, my co-coach, birdied 8 to pass her by.  You are never safe and never out of it.  There was a lot of drama at the end of the game!

Then we moved into the short game area for a 3-hole challenge.  Faith Summers finished last in the Horse Course game, but her short game shined and jumped her all the way to 2nd in the overall points. That is about right for this crazy game.  Some days are tough, but when the short game shines, so do you!  It was also great to hear Faith tell me she was using Be A Player ideas as she played.  The champion was David!  His short game coupled with his strong finish propelled him to the win.  We also had a team competition and he and his partner on Team Yankees won the whole thing.  Congrats Lauren and Dave!

The team came back to campus looking like they worked hard on their games and their fitness this summer.  They did their reading and it seems like we are all "all in".  I thought I'd blog about our start just to share what we do and how we do it here at SMU.  One of my goals is to get the players to think differently.  I want them to ask questions that lead to growth and allow them to excel individually.  I want them to believe in themselves and feel strength in facing challenges instead of anxiety over results.  I want them to understand that there is no such thing as failure as long as they keep moving forward.  I want to keep their enthusiasm high and their love for the game intact.  I want us to be ONE as a team.  I think we are going to have a good year!




Monday, August 7, 2017

Perfectionists, Read This!

Today, I was scheduled to recruit in North Texas, but my player's plans changed, so I have some bonus time on my hands and I get to do some writing!  Here is the question I've been pondering for quite some time:  Why is it that perfectionists get better by leaps and bounds in the game of golf and then hit a wall?  I've seen it happen, I've coached a few through it, but I never really got to the core of the problem.  I think I have now.  As with all I know, I learn it from someone else, whether it's a book, a great teacher or from one of my students.  I'm smart in that I pay attention and put 2 + 2, but I'm not as smart as most of the folks I listen to or learn from.  I'm saying that, because I want you to understand how today's epiphany came about.

Here is a list of what's bouncing around in my head right now:
Grit by Angela Duckworth
Barking up the Wrong Tree by Eric Barker
Two golf books that both told me one big message:  Look at data and don't take anything for granted!  Better Faster by Corey Lundberg and Matt Wilson, High Performance Golf by Henry Brunton
A seminar by James Sieckmann and finally, Lynn Marriott's and Pia Nilsson's new book, Be a Player.

The epiphany I had is, perfectionists are always focused on self and not on other controllables.  When it comes to golf, that means they rarely make the obvious adjustments.

We had a junior camp this weekend with seven good, young players.  I noticed from them what I often notice with my own players; they perform a skill well, but with a poor result and fail to make any notable adjustments.  In fact, given 5 balls and a pitch shot to hit, they will often put all 5 shots in the same area of the green without getting the shots any closer to the hole.  This weekend, I questioned the players about what adjustments they could make and where their awareness was while performing the tasks.  Each player missed the most obvious adjustments over and over.  When leaving a shot short, none said to grab less loft.  Instead, they made the task about how they performed instead of the tool in their hand.  We were lucky to have an LPGA player assisting us this week.  Casey Grice was one of our teachers and added so much to our camp. When asked what she would change, she almost always went with an outside factor, such as club choice or aim point.  Granted, she admitted to also being a perfectionist and learning much of this the hard way over the years.  In my experience, a lot of players never learn and that might be the difference between earning a tour card or ending a career earlier than anticipated.

If you're a perfectionist, you can choose what you want to perfect.  The most common subject in your brain is probably you and what you're doing.  What if you changed the subject to the ball?  Tomorrow when you go practice or play, pay attention to it's flight, bounces, spin, trajectory, roll and pay even closer attention to it's final resting place.  While watching the junior golfers yesterday, I noticed some didn't even watch their pitch shots roll out.  That is a red flag that they are mainly concerned about what they are doing and not concerned enough about the ball.  Their inward attention discounts green firmness, winds, grain, landing spot and spin.  One of my favorite coaching reminders to my players is, "Make sure you spend your time outside yourself today instead of being inside yourself."   They know that I mean to pay attention to what's happening and not get stuck in their own heads.  If you do that, you can stay aware of what's happening and give yourself the best chance to make the proper adjustment.

Here are some scenarios you might recognize:

You warm up on the range and you don't feel great.  It might be that chicken salad sandwich you ate. Who knows.  What you do know is, you aren't hitting it as strong as normal.  Do you walk to the first tee and vow to use one more club all day or swing harder?  Simple choice.  Which would serve you best?  Probably vowing to use one more club, because you could keep your rhythm.  Which would most perfectionists choose?  Swing hard, because my 7 iron is supposed to go 150!  The words "supposed to" are very important to perfectionists.

You are working on chipping on a 3-tiered green.  The first five shots you hit don't make it to the third tier.  Do you hit it harder?  Do you move it back in your stance?  Do you change your landing point?  Do you go get less loft?  Do you try to hit it better?  Are you even paying attention to where it stops?  The first four choices are actual adjustments.  The last two aren't and while they might seem funny to read on paper, they happen a lot.  Of the first four choices, the first two are you-related and the second two aren't.  The very simplest adjustment would probably be to choose less loft, but when we work with our players, that is often not considered.  Our goal as coaches is to get our players to make the simplest adjustment first and to consider outside factors first.

You are on the 18th hole and tied for the lead.  The wind is behind you, the hole is back and you're pumped up!  You have a stock 8 iron to the hole.  What do you pull?  If you are aware of the conditions, the hole location, your tendencies and your current state, you'll probably pull a 9 iron and still get it close.  If not, you'll pull the 8, fly the green and later complain about how you hit an 8 iron 15 yards farther than you thought you could.  Perfectionists like to focus on the facts as though they dictate actions. However, all facts are wrapped in layers of context.  Decisions on the golf course are all situational and dependent on more than yardage.

There are a hundred more examples possible, but you get the idea.  Perfectionists read Grit by Duckworth and focus on these types of quotes:  "as much as talent counts, effort counts twice."  Funny enough, Angela Duckworth also wrote this in her book Grit:  "giving up on lower-level goals is not only forgivable, it's sometimes absolutely necessary."  You won't find a lot of people putting that quote on twitter.  Perfectionists think that more effort is the answer.  Instead of switching to a 9 iron, they just need to hit that 60 degree wedge better!  If you place your focus on what you're doing, how you are doing it and how well you are doing it, you have the triple crown of inner focus.  If you decided to change your focus to what the goal is, what the ball does in relationship to that goal and what had the greatest effect on the ball, you will have adjusted your thought process to sometimes include what you do, but often it will focus on green firmness, club selection, wind or spin.  In other words, you will begin to give your own actions less power and consider all factors that might affect the ball.

While we are talking about the power of more effort, let's talk about the power of positive thinking.  In our culture, we teach kids that success is the goal and positive thinking is a key to reaching success.  That puts my perfectionist golfer next to the green hitting 10 chips to the same area of the green (not by the target) instead of watching one, adjusting, watching the second, adjusting again, etc.  She thinks if she does better with her chipping motion, tries a little harder and thinks more clearly, she will be successful.  She comes to this conclusion from us, her coaches, her teachers, her parents and her peers.  She's heard from us that she needs to stay positive, be persistent and resilient, yet she hasn't been taught to be aware and make good adjustments.  Thank you Pia and Lynn for writing a book (Be a Player) that I can hand out to my players about this very subject.  It helps me teach it and it helps me learn it better, too!  Kids are taught form instead of function.  They are over-focused on what they do and only somewhat focused on what the ball does.  I hear them talk about other players with funny swings a lot and then I remind them that the funny swing just beat them.  Give me five players with funny swings and a focus on the ball and the hole and we will go win championships!

When I ask our campers what they want to do better with their mental games, I hear them tell me things like "get out of my own head" and "quit comparing myself to everyone else".  Yet, we aren't teaching them to be aware and focus on the outside factors that lead to controlling ball flight and roll.  We don't celebrate their uniqueness or creativity.  We compare them to others constantly.  Why in the world do these kids follow us when what we are offering them isn't what they want?  If we are going to grow the game, let's grow champions, too!  Let's all do a better job of paying attention to function instead of form.  Let's accelerate our junior golfer's learning and efficiency by pointing out what the balls are doing far more than we point out what they are doing!  Let's give them what they ask for!

Heidi Grant Halvorson is a leading researcher in goal setting and success.  Here is a 25 minute video about this type of mindset.    It is valuable when you have the time to watch it!
















Friday, July 14, 2017

Effort or Process?

Imagine you live in an old house.  The windows are sticky and heavy.  You go into your room to open the window and get some fresh air.  You fully expect the window to stick, so you give it all you have and sure enough it won't budge.  You step in a second time and try harder.  Your face is red with effort.  You step away a second time only to realize you failed to unlock the window.  Doh!

No matter how much effort you had put into that sticky, heavy, cumbersome window, you weren't going to move it.  You went into it with the notion it would be hard and it lived up to it.  You moaned, groaned and maybe even cursed your old house.  Your preconceived notions made your expectations, but you failed to follow a process.  The first step to opening any window is to first unlock it.


Many players approach golf in much the same way.  They step onto a tough golf course ready for a fight.  They are braced and determined.  They forget their process and play defensively.  It doesn't have to be a tough course that causes this approach.  Some players will take this approach after a tough warm up session or a rough day leading into the round.  Whatever the reason, they don't approach their game with openness, peace or a commitment to the process.

Golf is a game to be played.  It is about feel, intuitiveness, playfulness, creativity, joy, nature, action and fun.  To approach your round as though you're girded for battle is to put on armor against all of these aspects of the game.  I often hear players talk about mechanics, grind, battling and toughness. As a coach, I know there is a time for these things when things aren't going well, but I certainly don't want these approaches to be our standard.  I want our players to play with freedom and flow!




Just think of the words you associate with the word grind; tedious, crumble, hard, work, effort, bear down, etc.  If I were recruiting kids to play golf, these aren't the words that would attract them to the sport.  Why did you start playing?  To play or to grind?  And that is just one of the popular words used to describe golf as though it is a tough battle.

If you want to play your best golf, prepare to PLAY.  Embrace the PROCESS of choosing a target, visualizing the shot and letting it go.  Be AWARE and OPEN to the day, the conditions, the course and your fellow competitors.  If you make the game about your effort, you will feel tired and beaten after your rounds.  If you make the game about freedom and flow, you will simply run out of holes.


Age and Coaching

Age and coaching get better with each passing season.  I know it might be hard to believe that age gets better, but for me, it does.  It has...