I had a reminder this past week of the responsibility inherent in coaching. Generally, I like to write these blogs without using the word I, but today, it's all about me. Or you, if you're a teacher or a coach.
We were playing a practice round at Hammock Beach last week. The lies were tight around the greens and we faced a lot of elevated greens. These conditions make it important to use the bounce of your club when pitching the ball. One of my very talented players was using technique that was based on the leading edge of the club. It wasn't working. The ball was hitting the green and running across it without spin and at a low trajectory.
This is where I come in. It made me angry. We have been working on this shot for much of the semester. Why wasn't she getting it? Why didn't she recognize the need for it? Why was she falling into old habits? WHY? Because I hadn't taught it well enough.
I swallowed my anger and spent time with her on a few consecutive holes. Instead of just teaching the shot, I taught the reason for the shot. I also taught the club dynamics and what might prevent her from making the shot. As time went on, she had a much better understanding of what was needed.
Then, when we landed back in Dallas, she asked if she could work on the shot at practice with me. She wanted further understanding and coaching. She wanted to learn.
Every player wants to get better. It is up to us as coaches and teachers to guide them. You need teachable moments to get it done. You need multiple ways to explain the same thing. You need patience and encouragement to support. You need to remember that if a student doesn't learn, it's not the student that failed, but the teacher. Those moments of anger when they don't get it should be aimed at me.
I hope to see the player play the shot in competition and rock it under pressure, because she understands how to hit it, when it is called for and has practiced it. Then I will smile.