Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Bravery, Not Perfection

If you follow this blog, you know that I love Ted Talks.  Watch this one and then let's talk about it.
What Ms. Saujani had to say between minutes 7:00 and 8:00 were riveting to me.  It reflects what I see in coaching women golfers.  When they have a bad day, many of them say, "what's wrong with me?"  Those are the players who need to learn to be brave and accept their imperfections.  Some players don't think this way.  They are able to separate what they do from who they are and have a better chance at success.  What she is saying in this Ted Talk fits our sport perfectly.  Here is a facebook post I did just this week on the same subject.

Adam Scott won with two doubles and a shank on Sunday. It doesn't take perfection to win, it takes determination! Never give up, never count yourself out, never give up the next opportunity and most of all, never believe that you aren't up to the challenge of what you face. BrigitteLindseyAlexandriaAlexandraKatie,Jenny. Let's play some determined golf next week and see what happens. David and I are with you 100%! ‪#‎springbreak16‬ 

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Adam Scott looking every bit as determined as he played last week.

At the end of the Ted Talk, when Ms. Saujani says she wants a world filled with courageous girls, I thought to myself that I want a team of them.  Dave and I coach our players to accept.  Accept the good and the bad you face in every round.  We've talked about it lately as a mindset that starts in the pre-shot routine, not the post-shot.  It is a mindset that can be learned as is pointed out in this Ted Talk.  Coaching is crucial to it.  Good coaching is filled with constructive criticism, teaching the tools used to succeed and a lot of support throughout the process of learning.  Poor coaching is filled with personal criticism, high expectations and removal from the process when it goes wrong.  I hate to say it, but I see a lot of parents using the second method.  It shows in the little things, such as using "we" when a player plays well and "she" when a double is on the card.  

One thing that we also talk about as a team, but that is hard to grasp is, if mistakes or poor play are filled with emotion, they will stick and be repeated.  That is what makes them a who you are thing vs. a what you do thing.  Great players view their mistakes as opportunities to learn and progress.  They consider them feedback.  I'd have to agree with Ms. Saujani that the boys I've coached are better at this than the girls.  I love to see my players hit a crummy shot and raise their chins higher and walk with more determination instead of seeing their head drop and their pace slowed.  In just that moment, I can tell if the player accepted her imperfection, learned from it and let it go or if she wants to erase what happened and start over.  I want players who run out of holes instead of players who want to begin again.  

As coaches, it's extremely important that we coach the game in players instead of the players in the game.  That's a big first step.  We need to start by asking what was wrong with your game today instead of what was wrong with you today.  The questions we ask of our players are crucial, because we are teaching them which questions to ask of themselves.  

Bravery or courage on the course is often as simple as Ms. Saujani relates in her story of coding.  It's a matter of accepting mistakes and persevering.  When players come to SMU who are in love with the driving range instead of the golf course, they are often into perfection.  Just as the coders want to hide their mistakes from the teachers, golfers want to drag another ball over to hit a better shot than the one before.  When on the course, they often play well when they start well or they're hitting it well.  However, any shot a perfectionist hits off line is a red flag that all could go wrong.  The mode often changes from playing the game to fixing the game. 

The next portion of the Ted Talk was just after 10:00 minutes in when Ms. Saujani talks about celebrating courage and bravery.  "We have to show them that they will be loved and accepted, not for being perfect, but for being courageous.  ....when we teach girls to be imperfect and we help them leverage it, we will build a movement of young women who are brave and who will build a better world for themselves and for each and every one of us."


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