Junior Golf Development Tips

Tee BoxPlayer Development: It’s a Matter of Skill & Time

As parents, we understand that many things happen during a golf round.  We see the great shots and errant shots and sometimes shake our head and say, “why did that just happen?”  Golf shots are just as much mental, as they are physical.  Thank you to Matt Cuccaro for his thoughts and insight into this area.

It’s quite obvious that player development is based on building skill over time. The more an individual works at something, the more skills are developed. As skills are passionately pursued throughout a significant timeframe, expert performance appears.  Yet, it can be difficult to maintain this perspective on a daily basis – especially around tournament time. As competition nears, other ideas seem to bubble to the surface:

How many points is this tournament worth?   Who is in the field?  What’s the winning score going to be?

Although these thoughts are exciting to consider, they also tend to become a distraction to performance. The more distractions that arise against the player development mindset, the less attention an individual has to focus on the task at hand; and distracted is not a mindset which is synonymous with success.

Throughout training:

Golfers don’t practice making birdies, they practice making smooth swings.

Golfers don’t practice shooting 4-under par, they practice staying target focused.

Golfers don’t practice getting recruited by a college or turning pro, they practice patience.

If distracting ideas start taking over (make birdie, shoot 4-under, get recruited) especially around tournament time, unreliable results are likely to follow. Discussions based on short-sighted results breed a mindset linked to distracted performance, frustration, lackluster effort and potential  burnout.

Parents, coaches and athletes who reinforce a player development mindset (Skill + Time = Success) seek long-term growth and build healthy competitors as a result. These individuals see competition as an opportunity to exhibit skills (smooth swings, target focus and patience) and test personal limits. When skills continue to remain a top priority throughout training and competition, consistent results unfold. As individuals consistently take part in dialogue filled with themes of player development, birdies happen, scores drop and barriers continue to be broken.

 Matt Cuccaro has over a decade of experience working with athletes, coaches, parents and administrators on the mental aspects of high performance. He has served as Director of Mental Training for Junior Sports Corporation (International Junior Golf Academy and Ivan Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy) in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina since 2006. Most recently, Matt joined Telos Sport Psychology Coaching where he consults with businesses and athletes to assist them in reaching their potential. His clients range from juniors to the highest levels of professional sport. Follow Matt on Twitter: @MentalCoachMatt or contact him via e-mail: matt@telos-spc.com for further information.

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