Archive for Golf Coaching

Don’t Be a Sheep

I rolled my eyes during workouts this when this was said to a few of us as we followed one athlete’s lead who put the bands around her knees as we began to do a wall sit. “Don’t be a sheep” was repeated (louder each time) by our trainer before we realized that he was trying to tell us we were all doing it wrong. It was supposed to go around our wrists, which he had yet to say, but several of us mindlessly just followed each other’s lead and put it around our knees.  While there is one slight positive lesson that can be learned about taking initiative and not always waiting to be told to do something as the first athlete did with putting it around her knees, there is a much bigger, more important takeaway from this story, Don’t Be a Sheep.

As I mentioned, I definitely rolled my eyes when this was said during the workout but it has stuck in my head since I left the gym on how this relates to junior golfers.

For starters, what does it mean to be a “sheep”? Basically, when this reference is used, you are saying that someone is following the crowd or the majority without really thinking for themselves. You just do what someone else is doing and don’t stop to think if it’s the right thing to do or if it’s what is best for you. To be honest, the majority of all middle school and high school kids are basically like sheep every day. They follow trends, they follow their friends, they follow the popular crowd, etc… never really stopping to think if they should be following or not.

When it comes to being an athlete, unless it’s your coach, your parents, your mentor, or your teacher telling you what you should be doing, you most definitely need to learn to be the exception to following what everyone else does. As an athlete you are expected to be different, not to necessarily be better than anybody else, but to know better and do better when it comes to making decisions and who you should be following.

It is very easy to follow what others are doing and to want to be part of the popular crowd, but, it is the ones who learn to pave their own path and think for themselves that see the most success in their sport and in life.

For girls who play golf, this is a very important topic because many times you are going to be the only one in your school or at your golf course who plays competitive junior golf. It can make life tough to always have to go your own direction and create your own path instead of following what everyone else is doing. But keep in mind, that doing something different, doing something you know is creating a strong, independent, mature young female athlete means so much more than simply being part of the “in” crowd.

And to be honest, in most cases when you do that, you will actually become part of that crowd naturally. But that is when the tendency to become a “sheep” will start to creep in and it will be easy to lose sight of your own path. So just always remember that paving your own way and thinking for yourself is never a bad choice. Only follow those who you trust have your best interest in mind and share the same goals that you have for yourself.

As an athlete, you have to think differently than non-athletes, your choices can have consequences that go beyond just a simple punishment or setback. Don’t be afraid to take some initiative, don’t always wait to be told what to do, but NEVER follow others without thinking about what that choice will lead to.

 

What College Golf Will Teach You About Life

This past week was a milestone in the lives of many young golfers all over the world. If you follow any junior golf tour or organization, I am sure you saw the flood of pictures as junior golfers set behind the table, with their families and coaches surrounding them, displaying their future university mascot and colors, as they signed their National Letter of Intent to play college golf. These players have worked countless hours to improve their games, stayed up late into the night to study and spent their weekends and summers traveling to junior golf tournaments. They may be just signing a piece of paper, but what lies ahead for these future college athletes will teach them so much about themselves, about life and about being successful in the real world.

All college athletes have a very rigorous schedule to balance, but with golf being a two-season sport in college, it is one of the toughest schedules to manage. I missed part of freshman orientation and the first 2 days of class to travel to Oregon for our first event of the year. I was behind before I could even get started. As a college golfer, most importantly, you learn time management and discipline.

college golf

Lizzie Win from Sylvania, OH who signed with Seton Hall University

These are two skills many incoming freshmen can struggle to grasp, but as time moves along they won’t have a choice if they want to keep up with their grades and the demands of the golf program. While other students get all afternoon and evening, plus weekends, to do homework and enjoy college life, college golfers aren’t allowed that flexibility. With morning workouts before the sun comes up, afternoon practice till the sun goes down, plus weekend qualifying or tournaments, that leaves little time to eat, sleep and study. College golfers learn how to prioritize and maximize their time, focus on the task at hand and juggle a lot of responsibilities at once. As we are all aware, these are all skills necessary for successfully tackling this thing called life.

Golf, like all sports, teaches you how to handle failure, disappointment and the ups and downs that life can throw at you. For anybody who watched the 2015 NCAA Championship match between Baylor and Stanford, you saw Baylor’s Hayley Davis devastated as she missed a short putt to continue the final match against Stanford’s Mariah Stackhouse, thus putting the NCAA Championship trophy in Stanford’s hands. Hayley told Ryan Herrington from GolfDigest, “They gave me the chance to win it for them and I wasn’t able to make it happen.”

Moments like Hayley faced can separate the strong from the weak, the determined from the defeated and the resilient from the fragile. How you rise from tough losses and days where everything seems to go wrong is what makes you a much better person and a more valuable future employee or successful business owner. When you are a college golfer, you have teammates and coaches that count on you to be able to pick yourself up, put it behind you and move on with even more determination and desire to do better.

college golf signing

Kylie Greulich from Huron, OH signing her NLI for University of Delaware.

Because golf is still much of an individual sport in college, you learn how to compete among your own teammates for qualifying spots but then support and cheer them on at tournaments. This is so important for real world scenarios where many times you compete against co-workers for promotions, but at the end of the day you must show your support and continue to be a team player in the office.

If you want to improve your game in college you learn how to be coachable and respect when others are pushing you to be your best, even when you want to quit the 6 am workout that is kicking your butt or you are the last one still working on a drill while everyone else has already gone home for the day. These challenges are the ones that prove to yourself that you can push past the times where you might want to give up in order to become stronger both physically and mentally.

Golf is a unique and diverse sport, many times you may play in a group with competitors who don’t speak much English, or you may end up on a college team with several international players that are very different from what you are accustomed to. College golf teams are small and tight knit, you must learn how to accept and get along with others who have different backgrounds than yourself. I came from a small town in South Carolina, so playing collegiate and professional golf really opened my eyes to other cultures, religions, races and backgrounds. While sometimes tough to do, you learn how to appreciate the differences in others and find ways that they can contribute to your own growth as a golfer and individual.

Playing college golf is an experience that requires an immense amount of time, dedication, and sacrifice but the skills and traits you acquire as a student-athlete are qualities you don’t learn in the classroom. The experience you gain, the people you meet and the skills you learn will forever change how you look at yourself and your future. For those who have plans to play college golf know that it is going to be a tough road but one that can teach you more about yourself and life than you can even begin to imagine at this stage in your life.

 

Article originally written for www.womensgolf.com

 

Watch and Learn

As a junior golfer you can always learn something from other players, especially ones who have reached a level that you are aiming to reach. This past week was a great example of learning from the best, and you could have done it all from the comfort of your own home. If you are a young female golfer and you didn’t catch any of the Solheim Cup, you really missed a huge opportunity to learn and get inspired. I know it had me glued to the TV all weekend, especially Sunday morning as the US team mounted one of the biggest come backs in golf history. It was so exciting to watch it all unfold. Having had the honor to play with most of the girls from the US team and several of the Europe team members, I enjoyed every minute of watching them battle it out for their country and work together as a team.

If you didn’t get a chance to watch it make sure you check out some of the highlights from the LPGA.com site, especially the media conference after play ended with the American team. Click Here to Watch. Watch it till the end where Gerina talks about the pressure of making the putt that kept the team alive and how her coach tells her to say the words “be great” on every shot. Such simple but impactful words.

Just a few of the ways you can learn from watching the tour players on TV:

  • Watch how they go through their decision making process and pre-shot routine. You will hear them assess the situation, pick a club and pick a specific target.
  • Listen to the commentators when they say what clubs the players choose to hit around the greens and really watch how they play the shots.
  • Watch how they handle bad breaks and bad shots.
  • Watch their attitude and demeanor. You rarely see them let bad shots carry over and see them get down on themselves.
  • Watch what they eat and how often. All tour players will tell you the importance of nutrition and eating on the golf course to fuel their bodies. You rarely see them drink Gatorade or eat anything with lots of sugar
  • Watch their etiquette and pay attention to the small things they do – they say thank you to volunteers, they ALWAYS fix their ball mark, they are courteous to other players (maybe not in the heat of the battle of the Solheim Cup apparently), they are aware of pace of play and they smile (well most of them).

golf-552906_1280Another great way you can learn from better players is to go watch a collegiate tournament that is close to home. Checkout www.golfstat.com, www.golfweek.com and www.birdiefire.com to learn what tournaments are in your area, or an event you could travel to and watch some of your top schools play. This is a great opportunity to not only watch the players but also the coach.

  • Watch how the players interact with each other
  • Watch how the player listens to the coach and interacts with one another
  • If this is the coach of a school you are interested in then you need to really pay attention to their coaching style during a tournament
  • Watch how the players warm up and what they do after the round.

You can really learn a lot from players who are out there doing what you are working everyday to accomplish. Some of the best players in the world will tell you they grew up watching the players out on tour and tried to learn all they could from them. Tiger always talked about watching Nicklaus and Palmer and studying what they did on the course. You need to learn more about the sport you are playing and truly embrace all that it means. And you need to do all that you can to learn from players who have been there and done what it is that you are trying to achieve.