The classic golf coaching model is inherently broken. A golfer books a lesson with you on Thursday after shooting their worst round of the year on Sunday. Your job is to solve the problems they experienced on Sunday and give them a solution that will ensure they play better next weekend. The challenge is addressing the issues they had last week with the golfer that stands in front of you today. They are not the same golfer! Isn’t it possible that they may enter today’s lesson with different tempo, coordination, range of motion, a different mindset, physical attributes, and approach from the person they were last week? Is it unrealistic to expect that the playing conditions that they were in last week will be different from next weekends round that you are preparing them for in this session? You are coaching someone in the present based on conditions they experienced in the past so you can affect the future. Two out of the three are unfortunately outside of your control. The only thing you can control is the present moment and the version of the the athlete that presents themselves to you at that moment.
The problem is that we are trying to add structure to a dynamic and ever changing problem. The old model focusses on fixing the golfer. There is no fix! What they need are tools so they can create their own solutions to the challenges they face on the course. Playing golf is akin to a kayaker running the rapids on a river. The kayak athlete needs to develop specific skills to safely and effectively navigate the white water. The river is changing from moment to moment and from second to second. The athlete hopes they have the right combination of skills to match the challenge set in front of them. At no point does the kayak athlete expect a predictable experience. In fact, they embrace the dynamic variability and the challenge it creates. They need to trust their skill set and their ability to problem solve in the moment. The speed at which the problems are presented in kayaking keep the athlete in the present moment and provide them with an incredible sense of flow. Golf on the other hand, has an abundance of downtime where the golfer can retrieve past failures and put unhelpful expectations on the future.
The modern golf professional needs a different approach to coaching. The new model needs to provide the golfer with the tools to adjust and adapt to the ever changing environment, conditions and competitive situations that arise in a round of golf. It is not about fixing them. It is about empowering them to meet the challenge that is presented for each shot. Coaching is about giving the athlete the ingredients that expand the options available to them to overcome each challenge they are faced with. The more ingredients they have, the more creative they can be at executing them.
My background in psychology has taught me that you can’t fix the past. Instead, we use the negative past experiences to shine a light on the need for new strategies to solving the problems that may come up in the future. Life is not about what has happened to you, but instead, it is about how you respond to what has happened to you. Let us use this concept to help our advance our coaching model. Allow the athlete to share challenges that they faced in previous rounds to shine a light on the type of skills that are needed to be added to their tool box. The new updated tool box will provide the athlete with new strategies in the inevitable event that a similar challenge presents itself again. What are the specific tools that you need to add to your clients toolbox? The tools you share are going to based on the golfers needs. A 30 handicap would benefit from the basic foundations of driving, iron play, chipping, pitching and putting. A 15 handicap may benefit from a deep understanding of how to shape shots, control distances and read greens more accurately. A scratch golfer may need advanced ingredients that will allow them to score from the deep rough, adjust their putting based on the evolution of the greens throughout the round, and calibrate club selection due to changes in weather. It also will be affected by your knowledge base and your ability to communicate these concepts to your client.
Why should you take golf coaching advice from a strength coach? I have worked in the golf fitness industry for the past 20 years. Worked with some the best coaches in the world and more importantly some of the worst. Coming from a different profession with my outsider perspective I can see holes in what the insiders accept as the norm. Similarly, I am certain that a golf pro would see the hypocrisy in the fitness industry when they view it through their lens.
My experience has highlighted the need to train in the present and provide my clients with habits that will help them live healthier and happier lives. As a performance coach I have to take into account the athlete’s present energy levels, hydrations levels, blood sugar, readiness to train, mental state and mood. I then dynamically have to adjust my plan to match their present state and find strategies to elevate them to a new and better state. Each session provides an opportunity to instill new strategies to help them perform at the highest level and maximize their potential. I need to create change in the moment to optimize their present state while at the same time support life long change through the lessons I share. Some sessions I have a kick ass program planned and have to adjust because they showed up tired and hungover from the night before. The session then becomes a lesson on the importance of rest and recovery and how alcohol affects performance. Other days a power session may turn into a correctives session due to extreme stiffness from a long flight and a subpar hotel sleeping environment the night before. There is no fix in my approach. Instead it is a dynamic, ever changing white water rafting ride. I work tirelessly to uncover new strategies, philosophies and ways of communicating these concepts to my clients. This allows me to effectively and efficiently navigate the rapids of fitness coaching in the moment. I am asking you to do the same! have a plan and expect to adjust it on the fly to match the clients needs in the moment. It is organic! Organize your tools so you can pick the right one at the right time and then be an artist in how you apply them.
In episode 418 of the Coach Glass Podcast, “Dynamic Coaching Model for the Modern Golf Pro” I expand on this topic and offer up a coaching model that you can personalize and make your own. Enjoy! I would love to keep this model as a work in progress that never has an outcome. It will morph and adapt to the dynamic and ever changing landscape of modern coaching. Help me expand this model by sharing your coaching models or adaptations of this concept in this thread and keep the conversation flowing.
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