Golf Coaching appears to be going through a phase. I’m not sure how to define this phase but the fairly recent influx of access to technology and information seems to be causing ripples. This new information, in some cases, has lead to some interesting observations. Here are 5 that I have noticed.
1) Information no longer separates New coaches from Experienced coaches.
The amount of sharing of quality information has dramatically increased. This has allowed the younger coaches, I run into these days, to have incredible amounts of information at their finger-tips if they simply do a little work and seek it out. They are able to learn significant amounts of information and factual information very early on.
When I was a younger coach, I truly believed that the best coaches in the world knew information that I didn’t have and that was one of the reasons why they were the best. I believe the perceived information gap between new and experienced coaches is disappearing. In fact, if anything, more new coaches think that experienced coaches have poorer information than they do. I don’t think this is much of a surprise as my boys of 9 and 8 already think they know more than me as well. =)
In this case, I am simply talking about the information. I am not talking about the experience. Experience will be discussed next.
2) Experience still kicks Informations Butt
I’ve said this before recently but I’ll say it again. Information is not How. Once accurate information is learned, applying that information or not applying it now becomes the skill of the coach. Can the coach take newly presented information and work it into their belief system and adapt? Can the coach take newly presented information and use it to make their students better? This is where experience plays its biggest role. Watching how players adapt to the words, pictures and feelings presented by the coach is what the experienced coach has over the new coach. They most likely will have a hierarchy of fixes for problems based on their past success rates. This should allow them to introduce solutions sooner and target root causes better. An experienced coach with great information is what we should all aspire to.
3) Coaches Exposing Coaches
There’s no question in my mind that social media and the internet have allowed greater critique of coaching information and technique. Not a day goes by that some coach somewhere doesn’t post a video or magazine article of another coach talking about something that the posting coach disagrees with. The question is, is this something that should be happening or shouldn’t? In other words, is it appropriate to expose another coach’s bad information? Once again, I have gone back and forth on this one and once again experience has to lead the way. I have certainly leaned toward letting the person know that maybe they should consider looking into other information to see if it changes their perspective. To be honest, in the past I would do it to try and seem more knowledgeable than the other coach with the indirect desire to help more golfers with better information all over. That was when I mistakenly thought information is what separated coaches. I think it is a good thing for golfers when more coaches know accurate info. The manner in which some coaches go about this may not be the most useful to that end.
4) Facts and Data Collection are a big deal
There are many, many coaches these days investigating golfers, the learning environment, the body, the golf swing, you name it in an attempt to better understand how to help golfers. It is astonishing the minutia that some of us will go to better understand things (guilty as charged). I love the theory and the minutia and connecting the data to enhance understanding. Once again, the question is, How helpful to golfers is it compared to other things? I have a few friends that excel in critical thinking and reasoning and I look forward to my conversations with these individuals. To me, it’s brain food and I love it. Not every coach needs this type of info in my opinion. At the end of the day, the best coaches are the best coaches for certainly more than what they know. They provide things that others can’t provide and we may not even be able to define what those things are. We just know that their players keep improving and that great players seek them out. There is so much information available to those that are looking that I think you have to make some choices. I don’t believe 1 person can be expert in all of them. The goal is to find the experts and bring them into your coaching circle when their expertise is needed. I can promise you that you can find them on twitter for free.
5) Fact based goals or Feel based goals
Is the goal of the coach to improve the player while using accurate information or is the goal to simply improve the player? I go back and forth on this question. I struggle between my desire to be accurate over all else and my desire to improve the player. If I tell my player something I know is wrong and it helps them, is that a bad thing? Do all players need to know what is right or what is wrong or do they need to know how to improve? Experience, I believe, is the answer to these questions. An experienced teacher can determine what is best for the person in front of them and help them with pictures or feels that allow for success under pressure. For me, I tend to be willing to say whatever I want to produce a result and then go back and fill in the facts. For example, to do what you want you can picture this or feel that. Know that if you actually do this picture or feel the true outcome would be this. As long as this feel or this picture produces the results we both want, I’m content using it. The true definition of ownership is can they do it under pressure. If the facts produce that result that’s great. If the feels produce that result that’s great also. We have to remember that our job is to improve the player. How we do that is where we should be spending our time.
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