I love coaching junior golf. Coaching junior golf gives me the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of young people. It is important to coach juniors early on the basic concepts of emotional intelligence such as: being positive, looking for opportunities, developing self-awareness and understanding good sportsmanship. These things are more important when compared to how well they swing a golf club. With as much as l coach and guide juniors to learn, they in turn teach me life lessons.
Here are the top 4 things that junior golfers have taught me and how you can learn from them:
1. Juniors are curious and open minded
In practice sessions I often set tasks for the juniors that have multiple ways of getting an end result. I let them explore the options themselves such as: ball positioning, club choices, swing paths etc. Through this process they learn what could potentially work and what may not. They remain open minded that there are different ways of getting a task done.
As adults we tend to opt out on remaining curious and simply function on autopilot. Sometimes, we just want to be given the answer so we can move on. This is due, in part, to us already having acquired skill sets to do the tasks we deem necessary and important. Children on the other hand are acquiring knowledge and skills so their processes remain more open to new options and avenues.
Next time, when learning something new, keep an open mind during the process. Be curious, ask questions and explore different avenues as you never know what you may discover and what it could potentially lead to.
2. Juniors can be very creative
At times throughout the coaching term, I let the juniors use the training equipment to come up with their own games. Using hoops, hurdles, alignment sticks, Frisbees etc. they come up with the most obscure games that I would never have thought of!
Letting juniors come up with their own games helps to build confidence and creativity in their shot making.
They are also learning to think for themselves and more importantly, think beyond what they have already been told. Next time you have an opportunity to engage in a task, a practice session or something similar, engage your creativity to come up with a new way of doing it. In golf practice, this could mean hitting short game shots with clubs you would not ordinarily use, for example, using a 7 iron out of a bunker or using a hybrid instead of your sand-wedge to get the ball onto the green. You may be surprised at what you can do and what you can learn through creative practice such as this.
3. Juniors can be very competitive
Most juniors love it when they are set a competitive challenge. They love it even more if it is a difficult one. Juniors often embrace things that are more difficult because they see the fun in it. Most of the juniors I coach love team challenges allowing them to compete against each other. That being said, there are a few who prefer the individual competitions, giving them the chance to improve on their personal skills and scores.
Either way, it is always intriguing to watch them compete, as it really brings out their emotions and personalities. Competition often shows who is the cheerleader, who doubts themselves, who thrives on pressure, who doesn’t thrive on pressure, who cares about what others think and who can narrow in their focus.
Through competitive challenges juniors learn to understand their own emotions and develop self-awareness. It is through these moments that emotional growth can occur.
Next time you find yourself in a competitive or pressured situation (either at work or during weekend sports and activities) pay attention to your emotional responses. You may discover emotional strengths and weaknesses that could help or hinder you at work, during your social activities or generally in life. Be curious and keep an open mind when working through these emotions and if there is a response you may not like or that may not be productive, seek the advice that will help you to change it.
4. Juniors learn with no fear of the result
Most juniors are great at letting things go and moving onto the next shot or task. Coaching juniors to embrace mistakes and view them as positive opportunities is one of the most important lessons they learn.
Coaching them during this process they learn:
- Not to fear the outcome of a shot
- To accept the results and
- To move on, committing to the next shot or task.
As adults we learn to fear making a mistake and sometimes stop trying for fear of a perceived negative outcome.
Thoughts such as, “What if it doesn’t work?” and “What if I look and sound like an idiot?” often cross our minds. What if you viewed a goal or challenge like my juniors? What if you viewed a challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow, with no fear of the outcome? What if, your process was given the most attention?
Think about this next time you are thinking of opting out on something you really want to do or try. It is, after all, about the process of the challenge and with any outcome comes an opportunity to learn, grow and move forward.
Coaching junior golf is a rewarding part of my job and as you can see there is so much to learn from them. Keep pushing your boundaries and facing your challenges with a curious, positive, open minded and creative mindset. Focus on the process, less on the outcome and you will find that you can achieve some of the goals you set for yourself.
For information on Junior Golf Programs please contact me by clicking here
For more information on Emotional Intelligence please click here
Keep an eye out for the second instalment of the “Improving Short Game Scoring” Series. To read Part One of the “Improving Short Game Scoring” Series click here