Let’s face it, golf is a difficult sport to master. It often requires weeks or even months of work before we can recognize progress. It’s not unusual for progress to show up as a quick burst of improvement followed by a small decline in performance and then a long plateau. That means that if we’re intent on making lasting improvements, we must tackle our work with a long-term mindset. This approach works well for developing juniors who tend to work hard over time and be patient.
This chart displays the pattern more clearly.
While it’s hard to predict the timing of these breakthroughs, we can create a daily environment that makes them more likely to occur.
Here are some guidelines for doing so:
1. Identify the areas of your game that need to improve and that will produce the biggest change to your scores.
2. Have a thorough understanding of the changes you need to make and the work you need to do to correct your weaknesses.
3. Commit to working hard enough and long enough for improvement to take place and to be recognized.
4. Separate your work time from your course time. Many junior golfers get this confused and insist on working while they’re competing. This is a poor approach that will delay progress.
5. Avoid an outcome-based focus and instead concentrate on gradual but steady improvement.
A former tour player and friend of mine once told me that he never knew when a good round or good tournament was going to happen. His approach was to put himself in the right state of mind so that he would be ready for it when it came.
We encourage our competitive juniors to utilize a similar plan by minimizing the importance of the score (or outcome) and instead concentrate on the process and areas of their game over which they have complete control.
The three most important are:
1. Pre-tournament and pre-round preparation.
2. Strategy and on-course decision making.
3. Mental toughness and emotional control.
As always, it’s imperative that junior golfers find a qualified and experienced instructor who can help them with a long-term plan and the skills outlined above.
Jeff Isler shares his observations, insights, and experiences on the game of golf and those that play it at a high level.