In life and in golf, our most valuable resource is time. When we’re young, we mistake the fact that fewer obligations means we have ample time to pursue our goals but as we get older, it becomes quite clear that success often depends on our ability to manage our time and use it productively. In a long-term specialization sport like golf, where success takes years of hard work, even younger players need to be careful to use their time wisely.
Several years ago, I created the following illustration as a guide to help our students make better use of the time they allocate to golf.
For competitive junior golfers, dividing golf time into three distinct areas: training, practicing, and competing, can accelerate progress and reduce frustration.
Any activity that requires conscious thought is considered training. Almost all skilled activities require training. Think about the amount of training the military, police, pilots, etc. must undergo to become skilled professionals. Often training can be uncomfortable or fraught with failure. During training, it’s important to put aside expectations and judgement – results are unimportant. Here are some examples of training:
Practice is the bridge between training and competing. It can best be described as the time in which you evaluate and test your results to determine if you need more training or are ready for competition. Although we might be aware of our training goals, practicing gives the opportunity to begin to shift thoughts from the conscious to the subconscious state-of-mind. Here are some examples of practicing:
Players are competing whenever they’re on the course and keeping track of score. When competing, results are all that matter. This means that successful junior golfers must understand the changes in both approach and thought process that need to take place when they leave training and practicing and move to the course. Tour players play their best golf when they quiet their mind over the ball and eliminate technical thoughts. That’s typically something less experienced golfers have difficulty doing. Here are some keys to competing:
Junior golfers hoping to reach their potential and avoid long periods of frustration, must be disciplined enough to manage and track their time according to their development phase and tournament schedule. Using the model above and adjusting the percentage of time devoted to each area -- training, practicing, and competing – will provide a competitive junior golfer with a way to get the most from their golf time.
Jeff Isler shares his observations, insights, and experiences on the game of golf and those that play it at a high level.