One of my real passions in teaching is working with young people who are striving to reach a high level of competitive golf. It has become the cornerstone of where I spend the majority of my time and the programs I offer. By focusing on developing high level players, I have been blessed to work some very motivated people and great families. In that process I am often asked by parents “what ultimately determines how far my child will go in golf?” As a parent of two kids who enjoy sports, it is a question I have spent many hours myself trying to come up with the true answer.
If you start researching and talking to coaches in other sports about what makes athletes or teams successful, the most common answer you will hear is hard work and discipline. As I have written myself, there are no short cuts to success and hard work, combined with discipline, is a must if you want to reach the top level. However, there has to be more to the equation. I say this because every day I witness kids who spend hours upon hours at the golf course and never really achieve a high level of golf. So what is the missing characteristic that no one talks about?
One of my favorite authors is Daniel Coyle. His book “The Talent Code” is a must read for any coach or parent who has a child that shows an interest in sports, music or any activity that involves competition. His understanding of hot beds (areas that have produced a high number of successful performers) is ground breaking information and provides some real insight into developing top level performers. In his latest blog he talks about a person’s learning quotient or simply put, your ability to learn.
As Daniel Coyle unveils, great performers are willing to learn and are open to working on areas of weakness while improving on their strengths. They take ownership of their progress and training versus simply being a bystander or victim of their environment. A perfect example of this in golf is the short game. Very seldom, if ever, do junior golfers admit their lack of short comings when it comes to chipping and putting. When the topic is brought up a typical response is “My short game is good. I don’t need to work on that”. What they fail to have is a true perspective of what “good” is relative to the competition, and therefore never address an area where huge progress could be made.
So as an instructor, parent or coach where does this leave us? If you are in a position where you have influence in how a young aspiring person trains, help them understand the importance of ownership and a willingness to learn. I know from my years of teaching that my best students always wanted “more”. They were starving for new knowledge, ways to improve, and most importantly honesty with parts of their game that had the most room to improve. In the end they had discipline and hard work, but they also took ownership in their development.
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