Do You Understand Your Practice?

How often do players go to coaches for instruction and come away thinking they actually can’t do something? At the lesson they are asked what their bad shot is, shown what they are doing wrong and invited to try some drills. Then of course, they are invited to go away and practice what they have been shown and done, but not actually understood. The player may even know what to do but not why to do it. So most players go away but do not practice because they did not really understand, did not really know, did not really learn. And, of course, they are right – what is the point of practising hard and putting in the hours if what they are doing doesn’t make sense?

Changing Behaviour

In order to teach and change behaviour, the good coach needs to know exactly what the player is thinking. The good coach also needs to understand what players know, how players learn, what they are capable of learning and how they go about describing what they are experiencing. The face-to-face conversation between the player and coach provides the foundation of understanding where real learning takes place. Interpreting what a player says and what the player means is an essential skill for the good coach.

Negative Thoughts and Bad Shots

On the golf course, players, in both their minds and actions, connect the last shot played with the next shot to be played; if the last shot was bad, they try to correct, if good they try to replicate. But most players don’t actually understand what was wrong with a bad shot and, as a consequence, do not really know what they are correcting. So a bad outcome and a negative thought process often triggers the process of making the next shot.