Saturday, April 25, 2015

Going DEEEEEP!



SMU's scores in the 60's  Tournaments
Player Score 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15
M. White 65 Johnie Imes
A. Rossi 66 Betsy Rawls
J. Haglund 66 Schooner
J. Haglund 67 Schooner
J. Park 67 Alamo
J. Haglund 67 Clover Cup
M. White 67 Clover Cup
A. Rossi 68 Alamo
J. Park 68 Schooner
K. Page 68 Schooner
J. Haglund 68 CDI
J. Haglund 68 DonnisThompson
J. Haglund 68 UCF
A. Rossi 68 Chip-n-Club
A. Rossi 68 SMB Classic
A. Rossi 69 Alamo
J. Haglund 69 AAC
J. Haglund 69 Schooner
A. Rossi 69 Betsy Rawls
J. Haglund 69 Alamo
J. Park 69 CDI

I love it when players have the opportunity and guts to go low.  Here are our scores in the 60's over the past 3 years.  In doing the research, I included Dave and my coaching years only.  In our first year at SMU, I'm not sure that anyone shot in the 60's, but we did have a lot of players shoot even or under.  Melanie White was and is one of the most positive-thinking players I've had the chance to coach and I think it showed in her scoring.  She did what she could with what she had and on good days, she took it deep!  She leads the charge.  Our top three scorers this year are also good at going low and getting it into the 60's when they have a chance.  Rossi, Haglund and Park are changing the expectations at SMU in their era with 18 rounds in the 60's between the three of them.  Also, each year we've added one more round in the 60's than the year before. When will someone shoot 64 and break Melanie's record?  What will the next era of players bring?  I know what I'd like to see.  Some 60's in competitive rounds at DAC, AAC's and NCAA's!  Let's get the last this year!  


Friday, April 24, 2015

Coaching Realism

We have a new coach on campus at SMU and he is a winner.  His name is Chad Morris and he took over the football program in 2015.  I like his style!

Coach Chad Morris


One of the things he told his team and continues to tell them is, "I'm in the truth business."  How right he is, but how unique for kids these days.  If his players have a growth mindset, they will flourish.  If his players are soft or believe their talent will carry them, they will fail.  Failure within his system will only mean immediate failure for guys who don't work or who can't take criticism, but Coach Morris is teaching long-term success and not only for football, but for life.

All of us in coaching strive to lead.  We work to model good behavior, strong character and growth mindsets.  In turn, we demand it from our players.  That is the foundation of any good coach and team.  From that base, we build our programs through teaching skills, strategy and competitiveness.  We top off our program with the same things that form the foundation, good behavior, gratitude, kindness, communication and work ethic.  The coach is the architect of the building, but he or she needs a lot of help.  Other coaches and captains are the contractors.  They make sure that each day, progress is made and that the progress fits the plan of the program.



Where do you come in as a player?  You have to see yourself as an active participant who has the same goals and vision as the coach.  You have to make sure that your actions and attitude reflect your character.  You have to have a growth mindset that allows you to accept criticism and work to better yourself.  You have to build on your skills, strategies and challenge your competitiveness daily.  You have to remember that your actions need to reflect your foundation and show gratitude, kindness and an open mind as you approach each day and each person you come across.  You need to have a strong work ethic and communicate your desires, problems and joys with your coaches and teammates.  If you take this active role in the building of your program, you are actively participating in the legacy of it and will leave it better than you found it.  The best feeling in the world is to be a part of something bigger and better than you can be individually and embrace those who stand beside you.




All of this sounds very logical when you read it, but it is rare to find all of these qualities among any team.  What is more typical?  A coach like Chad Morris tells you the truth.  Let's say he tells you that you aren't working hard enough to be a great lineman or that your footwork is poor and will keep you out of the starting position that you held last year.  His communication to you is a gift.  He is actively telling you exactly what you need to change, adjust and grow to be better.  Yet, in today's world of handing all a trophy and smiling at effort for effort's sake, you might not understand his gift.  Instead, you might think he is "on you all the time" or "negative" or "doesn't appreciate you" or "is calling you out" or "is mean" or "that's his opinion".  In other words, instead of listening and considering the message as a gift, you simply feel wounded by it and use an excuse to dismiss it.

Other common problems are players who don't communicate or communicate in negative ways, such as complaining, giving excuses, talking back, talking behind people's back, publicly dismissing the coach's words, or seeing the negative in any and all situations.  The simple act of complaining by one person on a team can take the team's focus away from their gratitude and their goals.  If anyone lacks the qualities that top a program off, such as open mindedness or kindness, the program itself also lacks these, because these are the face of the program.  If you are a member of a team, you are also individually responsible for the building of your team's character, skill set and attitude, just as each worker on a building site is responsible for the strength, safety and appearance of what they are building.





Now that we know each and every person on the team has equal importance, let's go back and think of Coach Morris' statement of being in the business of truth telling.  Good coaching is truth telling.   Imagine the two paths you can take when given the gift of coaching and criticism.  Perhaps your golf coach tells you that your short game needs work.  You can react by being defensive and pointing out the great up and down you had the day before or you can ask if your coach will meet you 30 minutes before practice tomorrow to get started on improving it.  If you choose the first path, how many more times will your coach bother to tell you the truth?  As an athlete, you will have choices such as these constantly and how you choose will define you.  You can take criticism as an opportunity for growth or use it to further limit yourself.  Every All American I've coached searched for the truth, asked for more help and outworked everyone around them.  Great players are sponges for the truth and often have to limit themselves to hearing it from only a chosen few.  To mature as a person and an athlete, you need to consider what you are told, weigh it against what you believe and work to become better.  It is a constant cycle that never ends if you want to continue to grow and improve.



There is always someone who wants to hear the truth, understand it, work on it, master it and then find a new truth.  If it isn't you, it will soon be another athlete.  Truly competitive athletes who strive to be great know that the real truth comes in wins and losses, low scores and daily steps toward improvement.  Learning to hear the truth and take it to heart is a step in maturing.  Maturity means a lot of things.  It means that your destiny is no longer your parent's responsibility.  It means that you will get what you give and learning to give more than you thought you could might be the new standard.  It means you wake up and understand that your talent is only a small part of the equation and not the most important part.  Maturity has little to do with age, but success has a lot to do with maturity.  To become a program builder, you will need to make mature decisions.


The finishing touches of the program your coach visualizes will be shown through your gratitude, your ability to communicate, your daily work ethic and your openness to your teammates and coaches needs and wants.  I'm not sure how long it will take before our football program wins more games than it loses, but I do know that our new architect, Coach Morris, sees the future and has the contractors in place.  Now he needs the builders, the craftsmen, the day laborers, the finishers and the clean up crew to come in and get the work done.  Everyone has a role in building a program.  Everyone needs to hear the truth and know what it will take to get the job done. Are you up to the task of building greatness and leaving behind a legacy?  Are you willing to embrace your needs and work to be the best you can be?  Those are the questions you need to ask yourself if you want to be a great football player, golfer, rower or any athlete who joins a team.



Sunday, April 12, 2015

Doubting Thomas

It's a Masters' Sunday.  Our Dallas homeboy, Jordan Spieth is in the lead.  Great players are chasing him on a course that rewards risk with eagles and penalizes nerves with bogies and doubles.  Golfers love Masters' Sunday.  I'm betting that a lot of us said a quick prayer for Jordan in our services in Dallas this morning.  Not that he win, but that he have courage and conviction in the battle for the win.  Our readings and sermon today were about faith or the lack of it.  We learned about Doubting Thomas and the need he had for proof before he believed.  He lacked faith until it was proven.  The reading made my mind wander to the video I posted of Jordan giving an interview when he was 14 years old.  At 14, he had the belief in himself that he would win majors.  The fact that he is now at Augusta playing for the win isn't surprising.  He's been focused on it for a long time.

After 20 years of working with young people, I often have the same advice.  1. Dream big!  2. Dream big, find people who support your dream.  3. Dream big, find people who support your dream, talk about it.  4. Dream big, find people who support your dream, talk about it and work hard to achieve it.

What I often find are young people who are afraid to talk about their dreams or to even form them, because they are afraid to look silly if they fail.  They are young with the world in front of them, but they are already protecting what they have instead of leveraging it for more.  Greatness is painful.  You can't avoid pain if you want to be great.  We sit on the couch and watch the player win the green jacket and marvel at the game, the nerve, the toughness and the poise.  We haven't seen the hours on the range, the rounds played in the rain, the putting in the hallway until midnight, the tears over shooting 80 or losses in playoffs, the weight training hours after returning from a long road trip, the ruined relationships with non-believers, the missed parties because of a morning tee time, or any of the heartbreaks and sacrifices needed to achieve greatness. Those who achieve greatness have been one-minded for a long time.  Greatness looks easy, because we see the finished product.  Greatness is only achieved by those willing to work, willing to invite pain and failure into their world, willing to hang it out there and say out loud what they want.

We see the finished product who wins the big check.  What we should see is a young person who dared to dream.  In my opinion, if you can't talk about what you want, you won't get it.  If you are afraid of saying you want to play on the Curtis Cup team or that you want to win a U.S. Open, you certainly won't be up for the challenge when the moment is in front of you.  If you do dare to dream of winning a green jacket, your path is set.  The dream will be the first domino in a long chain.  Each domino will be significant.  You will need to be a great putter.  You will need to be able to shape shots.  You will have to chip off of tight lies.  You will have to hit flops and bump and runs.  You will have to become a great bunker player.  You will have to learn to manage your emotions.  You will have to learn to play position golf on tough courses.  You will have to learn to control your nerves.  You will have to learn to win at every level on the route to the Masters.  You will have put yourself in position after 18, 36 and 54 holes.  There they are - multiple dominoes in front of you waiting to fall.  They fall because of your momentum.  They fall because you keep moving forward.  They fall because the last domino is the one you seek to topple.

If you don't dream big, you won't start the process.  If you do dream big, you can't give up on the process.  Here is another great video of a young player who had big dreams.  Rory McIlroy told an interviewer at age 9 that he wanted to win all the majors.


What is your next event?  Are you playing it to win?  If not, you are a stepping stone for someone else who is.  If your goal is to finish top ten or make the cut, you will be lucky to do those things.  Dare to dream.  Play to win.  Figure out how to get it done.  If you do, celebrate and move on.  If you don't, figure out what held you back and get busy working on it.  Learn from your failures and make adjustments going forward.  Don't be a doubting Thomas who needs to see results to believe.  Instead, have faith in yourself and your abilities.  Believe in the dream, not the past.  Believe in yourself, not others.  "Blessed are those who have not seen, yet have still believed."

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Ten Things to Help You Join a New Team

When Ben Crenshaw graduated from UT, Harvey Penick is said to have told him to eat breakfast with good putters when he got on tour.  That is perfect advice for moving to the next level.  Surround yourself with people who are positive and successful.  Positive people are the brick layers of a strong foundation.  Negative people are like termites.  They slowly and secretly eat away at foundations.  Here is some advice from twenty years of observing players joining our teams.



1.  Keep an open mind.  Sometimes, when things are new and a bit scary, you look for easy friendships or situations.  Those easy situations are often not the healthiest.  Keep an open mind about your teammates and coaches and work to connect with all of them your first year.  Healthy relationships take work, so easy isn't always the best.  Sometimes the best relationships take work.

2.  Choose your battles.  When you step into a team, you also step into existing relationships, both good and bad.  Don't get drawn into other people's dramas.  You will be recruited to take sides, because numbers often equal power in disagreements.  Don't do it.  If it isn't your fight, don't take sides and save your opinion.  Even listening to complaints can be seen as agreement, so say something non-committal and walk away.

3.  Say YES!  You will get invited to things by your teammates.  Even though you have a meal plan, say yes to a meal after practice.  Even though you have studying to do, say yes to a pizza on a weekend night.  Even though a social situation seems uncomfortable, say yes and overcome your shyness.  If you say no over and over, you will quit getting invitations and soon, you will be watching others from the outside.  Don't say yes to everything, but make sure to join when you can.
SMU Team members run to congratulate Lindsey McCurdy on her win over UC Davis and clinching the team's win in the East-West Match Play Championship in September of 2014.
4.  Compete and shake hands.  If you play your best, you will raise the level of the team's talent.  It isn't about beating out your teammates, it's about making your team better.  Let go of the personal battles and work to always do your very best.  If your teammates don't like getting beaten, they need to play better.  You don't need to remind them of that, but you do need to keep it in your mind.


5.  Judge others by who they are 90% of the time.  Everyone has a crummy moment or two.  Make sure you let things go if a teammate or coach seems to be having a tough day.  Better yet, reach out to them and find a moment to talk or share a meal.  Whatever you do, don't blow it up out of proportion or report it to others.

6.  Communicate.  If you have a problem with a teammate, that person will never improve as a teammate to you unless you tell him or her the problem.  The worst thing you can do is tell a third teammate about the problem instead of the person involved.  There are few secrets on a team and information gets passed quickly.  By communicating with your teammate, you are working to solve problems within a team, but by communicating with others, you are working to grow problems on your team.  Carrying around past hurts or judgments will hurt you far more than it will hurt your teammate.  If you need help, ask a coach or captain to be present.



7.  Respect.  Successful teams don't have to like each other all the time, but you must have respect for each other.  Think of your family and you will understand.  You can fight with your brothers or sisters and still love them.  You can be angry at decisions your parents make, yet still respect their authority.  Teams are like families.  You won't like everyone all the time and you won't like decisions that are made.  However, you can still have respect for everyone on your team. 


8.  Be the Glue.  As a freshman, you won't be expected to be a leader, but you can start to learn the ropes of leadership.  You can start by being the glue.  Great teams stick together.  Figure out how to be the glue that holds the group together.  You can connect people through invitations, mediation, laughter, tags, competitiveness and goofiness.  Freshmen are generally watching things a bit and trying to figure out where they fit.  Use your observations to help bring all together with little gestures.  That is step one to becoming a leader.  Leaders make sure everyone is following.  Poor leaders leave people behind.

9.  Use your parents for venting and advice, but not to solve your problems.  Your parents are very experienced and will probably offer you great advice for how to deal with situations.  They want the best for you and might still feel the need to protect you from pain.  Don't let them.  Happily take their advice, but take full responsibility for your situations and relationships.  Explain to them that you need to vent or that you need advice, but that it isn't their place to take action.  Maturity means that you will have to become independent of your parents and their help in your relationships.

10.  Control what you can control.  You can't control what your teammates think of you.  You can't control your coach's decisions.  You can't control the group dynamics.  You can control your own attitude, communications, actions, reactions and character.  You will never have the ability to make people like you, so plan to be yourself and accept yourself and you will be better for it.  Time is on your side.



Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Practice Suggestions



Here are a few suggested challenges for your practice:
Putting:
Around the World from 4, 5, 6 feet. 
Annika Drill
- Putt 3 balls from 10-20 feet from a triangle around the hole.  Make 2 of 3 and you are finished.
30 putt drill - Start it at 3 feet and put 10 tees down to 12 feet.  Putt from each tee three times with one ball going back and forth.  How many did you make?  If you made fewer than 18, do it again.
Lag Putts - Lay a club 2 feet behind the hole and putt 2 balls from 25, 35 and 45 feet.  Get both balls either in the hole or past but short of the club and move to the next distance.  Set it on a slope to make it tougher. 

Short Game:
3 Ball Short Game Challenge:  Drop 3 balls and chip or pitch them to a hole.  Pick up the best and worst and putt the middle ball.  Do this 10 times and get at least 7 of 10 up and downs.
20 Ball Bunker Challenge - 3 good lies, 2 uphill, 2 downhill, 2 ball above feet, 2 ball below feet, 2 fried egg, 2 ball out and feet in bunker, 2 feet out and ball in bunker, 3 good lies. Go back and work on any shot you had a hard time with.
Compete with a teammate!  Play worst ball - Hit 2 shots and the closest worst shot wins the point.  Play to 10.  Play a tough lies game.  Play H.O.R.S.E. with your wedges.

Long Game:
Spend 15 minutes on one or two mechanics that help you hit it well.  Next, spend 15 minutes working on alignment and balance.  Then spend 15 minutes working on your routine.  Finish with 15 minutes of hitting shots as you would on the golf course, using visualization and FMF.
Hit 3 shots you would rate as a 9-10 with each club and then put it away.  Do this with all 13 clubs.  Take note of your state when you got the 9-10.  Were you in FMF?  Did you have good visualization?  Was your routine rhythmic?  Were you in balance?  Where was your focus?
Aiming - Put your aiming sticks out in front of you and go through your routine and start the ball between the sticks.  After you do this with ease, hit some draws and fades, but continue to start them between the sticks.  Then hit some big hooks and slices, but continue to start them through the sticks.  Finish with low, straight shots.  Work with whatever clubs you want.  This will help you prepare for any shot you face on the course.