Many golfers believe there is a magic fix to all that ails their golf game. They believe it can be found in a magazine swing tip, on television or the Internet, and that when found, their game will instantly and miraculously improve and they will hit the ball long and straight every time. If only it was that simple!
The reality is playing your best golf is a process: an ongoing series of small steps, of incremental improvements that allow each year’s golf to be better than the previous year. Such a process is widely recognized as Long Term Player Development (LTPD) and has been used primarily for junior athletes. However, many of the processes and theories utilized by LTPD (periodization, screening of athletes for technical and physical competencies, and placement on a skill development continuum) can be transferred to players of all ages.
Where do you want to go?
Whenever I start working with a new student I begin with an interview. It is critical for me to get to know the person I will be working with, what their background in the game has been, how much time and resources they can allocate to the process, do they bring any injuries or physical limitations to the process and what are their expectations. This leads to a conversation about their goals that will form the basis of their LTPD.
The typical response I hear from students when I ask why they are taking a golf lesson, is that they either want to hit the ball longer or they want to be more consistent. I work with the student to break down these larger goals into achievable and hierarchical objectives so that, in time when each of these underpinning aims is achieved, the goal is obtained. In other words, these two goals (length and consistency) are much too broad to be “converted” into everyday practice and priorities. Both are great goals but need some further development in order to form the basis for LTPD. Most of all I would want to know why these two factors are important to the player.
In working with a player I will set two types of goals:
Outcome Goals:Are focused on end results and are typically structured around tournament wins, handicap index or scoring average.
Performance Goals:Are focused on the underlying physical and technical skills that will need to improve in order to attain the outcome goals. They may refer to fairways hit, greens in regulation, average number of putts per round, number of three putts, birdies per round, penalties per round, etc.
In setting both the outcome and performance goals with the player I will the player to follow the SMART goal setting outline:
Specific – The goal must be crystal clear.
Measurable – We must be able to objectively show that the goals have been reached.
Adjustable – If it proves that the goals have been too aggressive or they have been achieved early, can the goals be altered.
Realistic – The student and coach must truly believe that the player can do this.
Time based – There must be a realistic set time frame in which to achieve the goal.
Once the goals are decided upon, a plan must then be devised as to how the student will achieve these goals. A plan which is based around the goals of each particular student – It is a matter of fitting the program to the athlete – not the athlete to the program.
Once goals have been set, and the need for a plan discussed, the next step is to figure out where the player is right now. For without that information an accurate plan cannot be designed. In my next post I will explain how to analyze your game and design your plan.
I hope you enjoyed this post. As always comments are welcome and appreciated.
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