Golf in Sedona Arizona - Red Rock Country Photo by Al_HikesAZPsychology By Dr. Gregg Steinberg USGTF Sport Psychology Consultant – Nashville, Tennessee Many students have unreal expectations about what you can do for them, as well as how good they should play and score after their lessons. When students have unreal expectations and you do not meet these expectations, your students will be dissatisfied, and perhaps not return. However, when students know what to expect from you and the game of golf, retention increases and so does satisfaction with the product. Thus, you want to communicate realistic expectations with your students. The following are some unrealistic expectations and how you may fix them: 1. Students who believe the game should be easy. Instructors throughout the world have heard, “It looks much easier on TV.” Many beginning students come with this expectation. They believe they should master the game quickly. However, they do not appreciate all the years and years of hard work that the pros on TV have put into the game. Explain how long and hard you had to work at the game to reach your level. As with life, the game of golf is challenging. 2. Students who believe they should get better without practicing. As Ben Hogan once said, “The secret is in the dirt.” Students who believe they will get better without putting in their dues on the practice range will be very disappointed. To remedy this problem, develop a contract with your students in that they have to practice or play at least five times before they take another lesson. In this case, both parties will be happy with the improvement. 3. Students who believe they should continually get better. Unfortunately, our improvement comes with plateaus. We will get better, then plateau, then get better and plateau again. To help your students get off a plateau, suggest that they change some variable in their game. For instance, if they play tougher courses, this could shock them out of a plateau. 4. Students who believe they should see the same level of improvement as their handicap diminishes. The law of golf improvement states that as the handicap goes down, the level of change slows down exponentially. That is, going from a 30 handicap to a 20 handicap is moderately easy, and takes a moderate amount of time. Moving from a 10 to a 5 is difficult and takes years of practice. Going from a 5 to a zero is almost impossible and can take a lifetime. Make sure they understand this law of golf improvement. 5. Students who believe they should fix their bad habits in 21 days. When Nick Faldo went to David Ledbetter to fix his slide move in the late 1980’s, it took nearly two years to fix that bad habit. But once fixed, Faldo became an all-time great. Make sure your students realize that fixing a habit does not take 21 days (as some have reported). The length of the process depends on certain variables such as coordination and amount of practice. Quicker results come with more practice. 6. Students who believe the problem is always physical. Given that I am a sport psychologist, this point has my bias. In many occasions, problems with improvement and performance are due to anxiety, and the lack of ability to deal with pressure. Discuss with your students their emotions during a round, and if warranted, you should recommend that they visit a sport psychologist to remedy the problem. You and the student will be happy with the results.
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