Golf coaching excellence – “Begin with the end in mind”

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By Ben Sillem World golf Coaches Alliance

Toronto, Canada

The beginning of the year is always a great time for resolutions.  As a coach to competitive golfers, it is always a good idea for you to give some thoughts to what your goals are for the coming years, as well as help your athletes to review theirs.  We’ve all heard that if we fail to plan then we plan to fail.  A key factor in success is to process goals on the desired outcome; that is, to begin with the end in mind.

We can pick a goal which may be specific, measurable, and achievable, but if that goal isn’t going to move us in the direction of our ultimate objective, it may be counterproductive to pursue.  Consider the difference in approach between amateur and competitive golfers.  The typical amateur will stride up to the tee with a club that will allow them to hit the ball the farthest, usually the driver.  They will give little thought to where the green is.  This is in contrast with a skilled player, who is more likely to first look at the green and where the pin placement is.  He’ll make a determination of where the best place will be to land the ball in order to increase the chances of hitting the green in regulation.  From there he’ll determine what is needed to get the ball to the desired area on the green with his approach shot.  Only after these steps will he consider what is the best club to use in order to allow him to place the ball from the tee to the desired approach-shot location. In short, he’ll play the hole backwards, or begin with the end in mind.

Jack Nicklaus said that he never hit a shot, even in practice, without having a very sharp, in-focus picture of the objective in his head beforehand.  He said that he would visualize where he wanted the ball to finish and then he saw the ball going there, its path, its trajectory and shape, even its behavior upon landing.  In essence, he was determining where he was starting from and where he wanted to go, which helped in determining how to get there and what plan was needed to be put into place. How can this help us as golf coaches?  By knowing and focusing on our competitors’ larger objectives, in both training sessions and in a normal round of golf, this mode of thinking can best serve this larger picture.

Here is a quote to consider by Dr. Marcus Bach:  “There is one practice that many of those who accomplish great things will admit they have indulged in, especially during their learner years.  They were able to picture themselves, vividly, having already attained their goals, and they retained that image in their minds constantly, assuring themselves again and again that they knew they would succeed.”

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