Friday, January 8, 2016

Advice for Young Coaches

So many young coaches reach out to me to tell me they read the blog.  The blog provides me with a conduit to become a mentor to them without making a formal effort.  Mentorship is a way of leading and caring at the same time and it's been important in my life.  I was lucky to have tremendous mentors, both in coaching and in the golf profession and I reflect on their teachings and leadership to this day.

When a young coach reaches out to me, it starts with a general question, such as "how do you recruit?"  It is impossible to answer that type of question seriously or quickly, so the conversation soon moves to give and take, which is a far better way of learning than simply allowing someone to expound on what he or she does as a recruiter.  I'd urge you to reach out to someone who can serve as a mentor to you as you move forward in your career.  You need a person you can call who will give you an honest answer to your question.  You need someone who can lift you up when things aren't going well or who you can call to thank when you see something working that he or she helped you with.  Mentoring is one of those things you pay forward when you get a little experience.  Find a mentor and plan to one day be a mentor.

With all of that being said, here is some advice that I'd consider giving to any young coach.

12 Things That Will Help You Be a Better Coach

1.  You aren't your job or your ranking and neither is anyone else.  
There will be times in this job when you'll be on top of the world and times when nothing goes right.  It happens.  Our sport is reliant upon small numbers, which means the addition or subtraction of one or two players can have a large effect on your outcomes.  Separate your ego from your outcomes.  While we're on the subject, do the same for your players.  Treat them as people and their golf scores as an outcome separate from who they are.

2.  Your players want to play well.  Keep that in mind and help them figure out how to do it.
Often, coaching becomes a battle of wills, instead of everyone pulling the same direction.  That means you need to listen, adjust and give in to an individual's needs at times to get the best result.  Don't make your player's score about you or what you want.  That doesn't mean you quit teaching for long-term growth.  It simply means you have patience and look for teachable moments.

3.  Focus on people first and tasks second.

4.  This job is open for business 24/7, so figure out when you will work and when you'll leave it behind.  Otherwise, you'll be working all of the time and life will slip away from you quickly.

5.  Don't air your dirty laundry out in the yard.
Complaints and problems aren't to be shared.  It's a competitive business and someone will profit from your problems if you allow them to be aired.

6.  Listen!

7.  Value each player, but don't worry about treating them all the same.
They aren't the same and it's impossible to treat them as such.  Your job isn't to be fair.  You can value each player and treat each with respect and honesty at all times.

8.  Choose to ignore negativity within the team.
If it falls on deaf ears, it won't continue to be aired.  

9.  Recruit openly and honestly.
No one player is worth your reputation.  Expect anything you say in the recruiting process to be repeated, so don't offer what you can't deliver and don't hang your hat on negative recruiting.  Present what you have to offer and keep it simple.

10.  Learn continuously.
If you feel like you have a handle on this job, you are about to get flattened.  It is a job of a hundred skills and each can be improved.  The cornerstones of leadership, communication, golf knowledge and team building are a good start for your focus and each of those require a lot of effort to become a novice, much less an expert.

11.  Have fun and allow your players to have fun, too.
It's about keeping your perspective in check and having appreciation for your roles, your daily activities and for the energy of the team.

12.  Be yourself, but work to be your best self.
Think as a good person first and a good coach second.  That is very tough to do when things don't go your way, but in the long run, it will keep you true to yourself.

That's it!  Those are the 12 things that I'd offer to any young coach as things to keep in mind as you work in this profession.  This is my 20th year and I still have to remind myself of these things all the time.  In fact, that is how this blog came about.  I sat down to think about what I needed to do in the year 2016.  Some of these things give me a challenge daily, but I know the list is right.  Funny thing is, as competitive as I am, I don't see winning listed anywhere.  I've learned that if I do the things listed above, winning will happen.  Here's to a good 2016!


  1. Great tips on golf. Young coaches must follow these if they wish to make a grand mark in the golf arena and ofcourse winning will happen as you say! :)


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