My Daughter’s Golf Game is not improving – High School Golfer

Golf Dad:

According to my daughter, I’m getting in the way with her progress because am overly critical. She requested that I not walk with her on the course any more. She is not making good strategic decisions on the course and her game is not improving. She rushes her shots, and does not seem focused. She gets frustrated and angry with me and her confidence is just not there. I try to support her in every way possible, but I don’t believe she sees that. What do I do?

Coach John’s answer

One important point to remember,” progress is not always continuous.”  To make a shift in behavior requires repetition, and positive reinforcement.

Her lack of “confidence” is one of the biggest issues. Where do the confidence issues come from? They come mostly from external pressure which creates the internal pressure she places on herself.  The pressure, critical feedback, and limited success oriented reinforcement as compared to critical feedback damages her confidence.  Criticism damages her confidence and her enjoyment of the game especially when it is not counterbalanced with positive feedback. You want her to enjoy the game because this enhances her motivation. Without motivation she will not make the changes you. I would rather her motivation be based on a desire to succeed rather than a desire to avoid failing.  Positive comments that are sincere, genuine, unconditional, and greater in numbers than negative comments will make a huge difference.  I use the 5-1 rule; 5 positive comments to 1 negative comment.

Old behaviors must be extinguished first to allow space for new behavior to imprint. As a parent your commitment to reduce the pressure to perform to an expected and more positive feedback – even if you find it hard to do so – is critical to give her the space she needs to reduce the negativity she is feeling.

Here is a plan I would like to offer to you and ask you to consider. Your daughter has the Mental Edge Performance Journal in which she completes daily performance tracking assignments. Among other things she tracks the positive aspects of her technical and mental game as well as areas needing improvement. At the end of each week she creates a performance summary which identifies patterns of success and weakness. All of this is done in the journal.

I would suggest you continue to talk to her about the following plan and see if she will go with it. Walk with her and observe, but when you see performance issues take note without verbal communication.  When you see positive things happen give her positive comments. I know she likes positive comments so less positive comments will send an unspoken message, but please offer positive comments judiciously where appropriate. Keep a running tally by day of your “instructional “thoughts/comments for technical, mental, and game strategy. At the end of each week create a summary of the Top 5 Positive things and the Top 2-3 things that require improvement.  She will do the same.

The final step would be for the two of you to meet once per week to review and compare notes. At this time you can again offer your constructive feedback, but the goal would be to continue to use the 5-1 rule.

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