The Golf Performance Center Ridgefield, CT

Coaching for Performance vs. Development

Tournament season is here! Whether in junior, club, or local amateur events, this is a great time for all! That is if you like your game.  Golf is a tough game; it demands your attention and humorous side to play and score your best.  For many of us, we forget the object of the game is to score.  Golf is about getting the ball in the hole with the least number of strokes possible, not about how beautiful your swing is!  Coaching for performance vs coaching for development is a real battle and unfortunately if you do not have an expert about coaching then you may not have a clear vision as to what golf is about.  Of course, you want to have the best swing mechanics to help you control the golf ball, but there is a time and place for this. In most cases it is not while you are preparing to play the best in a tournament.  The point of having a developmental plan or periodization plan is to help you understand when you should spend time grinding over the “hard skills” or details of your physical and mechanical tendencies and when you should be spending time working on the “soft skills” of playing shots, course strategy, and the mental management of your game. 
Depending on your developmental age you may take time in an event or events to transfer skills from the driving range or practice to the course, however your focus is on scoring your best.  Remember, a growth mindset early in the tournament season or in your developmental phases will go a long way in your overall performances.  Growth mindset makes it easier to trust the process of improvement, lowering the risk of performance anxiety and the feelings of lack of confidence.  As you move through your development phases you will always be learning and acquiring the necessary skills to perform your best.  This does not mean your best is ready to win an event, it means you will be doing your best at the time, which over time will help you succeed more often, lowering your scores and giving you chances to win.  The key is knowing when to apply the right coaching strategy.  
I believe the disconnect for many players and coaches when it comes to golf is there is an idea golf is easy. There is no one perfect golf swing, however there may be a perfect swing for you.  With this being said, having an efficient swing is far more important.  Golf is about getting the ball in the hole in the list number of strokes possible.  It makes sense to learn how to control the golf ball and have the knowledge of how it happens.  It is critical to know when you are “out” of season working on mechanics 80% of time is the right thing, conversely, when you are “in” season you should not spend 80% of your time focused on development of mechanics, it can lead to spectacular failures. 
Many of you are headed into your tournament golf season and may still be focused on mechanics.  Stick with your process and play the shots you see. The outcome may not be perfect, but commit and enjoy the challenge of pulling off a shot that you have never been done before and may never have again!  Take inventory of the challenges you faced good or bad: what did you learn about yourself and what did you learn about your game?  
When it comes to your in-season performances, a good performance coach will push you to learn your game better, coach you to advance your “soft” skills to score better and there will be a little coaching “hard skills” to keep you on track.  Take advantage of coaching for performance by collecting the data needed to help you and your coach to understand how to help you perform your best!  Off with the floaties, it’s time to swim, enjoy the summer season!  
Enjoy Your Journey!