By Iain Highfield, BGGA Director of Mental Training
At the end of January, I was fortunate enough to attend the PGA Merchandise Show and listen to some of the greatest minds in golf share knowledge on how we can improve as coaches. It was a great opportunity for myself and the Bishops Gate Golf Academy coaching team to expand our knowledge. It was an opportunity we all enjoyed and made the most of.
However, something that makes us different at BGGA is the understanding that the knowledge we hold and share is not the most important part of our coaching make up. As a collective, the coaching team at BGGA understands that being what is known as a Transformational Leader will influence our students’ behavior more than any knowledge bomb we can drop.
Transformational leadership is defined as a leadership approach that causes change in individuals and social systems. In its ideal form, it creates valuable and positive change with the end goal of developing followers into leaders. Every day the coaches at BGGA embody this as we raise one another, and hopefully in turn the students to higher levels of morality and motivation through our own personal actions.
At the start of this school year I took up calisthenics (gymnastic exercises to achieve bodily fitness and grace of movement). I felt it was important for me to be attempting to learn new skills and be seen to embrace failure. The videos below show one of my many ungraceful failures as well as my recent success! But I always bounce back from adversity, and I enjoying sharing my calisthenics journey with the students I am blessed to help daily. Enjoying the process of mastery is a message I aim to portray to students and my calisthenics journey is helping me do this.
Here’s how other BGGA coaches contribute to our Transformational Leadership.
Coach David Louys-Moroney lives by the expression “Transformational Leadership.” As a coach that has face-to-face contact, five days a week with 40 teenagers, he understands the importance of his actions. David believes that most successful people in any field demonstrate very similar character traits. Hard work, passion, dedication, resilience and grit to name a few. If David expects his young athletes to manifest these traits, they need to be exposed to them daily through his own actions as he interacts with the students embodying these very characteristics.
As an elite athlete in multiple sports growing up, coach David continues his love of sports in general and engages with Director of Athletic Development Karen Harrison on a personal level. They work on his mobility and flexibility in a manner that if his students modeled the behavior they would create physical and technical gains in their swing motions in line with their collegiate or professional goals. David can be found biking to work and working in the gym before many students have even got out of bed! He also understands that to develop these traits in the students, he needs to create a training environment that pushes the students just outside their comfort zone which enables these character traits to be tested through the correct challenge point framework. He then helps guide them through these desirable difficulties in the most effective fashion which continues to expose the students to his leadership qualities.
Coach Nick Duffy, a former professional golfer who as a young golfer played in two USGA junior events, represents the change he wants to see in the students via his drive for constant self-improvement. Nick is an avid reader and sacrifices time to study and educate himself. Here are some images of Nicks most recent reads.
Coach Zach Parker brings his passion and energy every day to the athletes. The expectation and standards he sets for each athlete in respect to their personal development is represented in his planning and organization. By showing the athletes his commitment and dedication, he creates a culture of accountability and respect.
Coach John Montgomery loves to compete with the kids at BGGA. He plays them for push-ups, squats and hill runs. This makes them more engaged because nobody wants to do extra exercises! When the match is close and the pressure is on, that’s when you get to see the kid’s true character. When John find himself in these situations in front of the kids, he always conducts himself as a professional. He exudes a lot of emotion and passion when playing but never in a negative way. It’s important to show good examples of how to handle failure. Nobody likes losing but it happens a lot in golf. There’s one winner in a field of 100+ golfers sometimes. The better they become at learning from their failures, the faster they can become winners.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” At BGGA, we are trying every day to be the change we want to see in our students. The reason for this is research has shown that home environments can change human potential.
Benjamin Bloom carried out significant research on mastery learning, showing that it is not ‘innate talent’ that allows one to succeed, but rather hard work. Bloom’s work stressed that attainment was a product of learning, and learning was influenced by opportunity and effort. Finally, Bloom’s work stresses the most significant influence in helping children foster increased effort is the family and more specifically the parents.
At BGGA, the coaching team understands that our students are spending time away from their family and sacrificing the positive influence that a parent can have on their child. So, while as a team we are aware that we will never replace mom or dad, we also realize that we have an obligation to be more than a person who talks about a golf swing or on course strategy. We must help our students by giving them the level of guidance and leadership that can be undertaken in a home environment that would cultivate drive, grit and resilience. We can do this by exuding these qualities ourselves.