Why Fun? Why not scores or some type of performance based assessment? Why not beating your competition to a pulp? Why not mastering technical prowess and increasing your sport specific IQ? While some may call it ludacris, a major factor in deciding whether an activity will be sustained is the enjoyment of that activity. This takes many forms within different skill levels, but is uniform across sport and performance.
The cliche saying of “if you give a person a fish” (vs.) “if you teach a person to fish” is one that compares the idea of giving someone what they want versus teaching them to be able to earn what they would like. The real skill is being able to teach someone to be self-reliant, as this creates a sense of confidence, higher self-esteem, it mitigates helplessness, and helps create a growth mindset.
Let’s take, for example, a high school golfer with average scores and a goal to improve to play college golf. If this golfer is exclusively trained with on-range drills, then the transfer of that skill into competitive settings will be more challenged and less consistent. While the technique is a key to consistency, too much understanding can create friction points. Try thinking about it like this, in professional car racing there are mechanics and drivers. The mechanics are mainly responsible for tuning and building the car while the driver is mainly responsible for testing and pushing the performance of the car to its potential. They must both operate with communication and applied testing to prime themselves for each competition. In the case of our high school golfer, too much of a focus on technique without the understanding and confidence in how to perform with what they have can create frustration and be discouraging.
In life we refer to the ability of embracing challenge and adversity as resilience; The same stands true in golf. At IJGA, while we do spend time on the range crafting the swing, we also use applied exercises to help transfer those skills into on-course and applied competitive settings. However, what we have been able to understand in our time developing golfers, more clearly than anything else, is the process of incorporating FUN into training. In training, we create opportunities to learn how to enjoy the process of being challenged, which in turn serves to develop life skills, which transfer into the future of each student we work with.
While there are a bounty of ways to develop this into training, two suggestions we have are to focus on creativity and embrace challenge. When working to transfer skills from the range to the course, we will set up challenges that allow students to rapidly apply their skill but also activate their creativity.
One example of creativity would be to set up three stations, one where you are attempting to hit a bottle off of an alignment stick 10pts for a hit, one where you have to use one club and hit a set number of different shots (we recommend 7) to a target 2pts for each successful shot, and another where the task is to hit a specific target (30-50 yards) with the least number of shots possible (subtract number of shots taken from your total points). Once you have your score, students can then take a break before going through the cycle again and see if they can improve it.
In focusing on embracing challenge, we will have students play in competitive formats and where they are unable to complete a task we will make it a bit more difficult. Take, for instance, a player who continually will leave putts short, we will have that player play a match where each time they leave a putt short they will have to pull that putt back one club length from where it stops before they can take their next stroke. This element of creating conditions in training that are tougher than in competition allows students to enjoy competition more and become more comfortable in competitive environments.
These are just a few ideas of many, feel free to reach out and share your best ideas or ask us more about our training.
IJGA Mental Conditioning Coach