Archive for June, 2015

Still more on Embracing Challenges

In the spirit of exposing a group of high performance junior tennis players to “embraceable” challenges, I recently set up a good-natured exercise to see how they would react to a particular challenge often faced in matches: cheating.

The activity was simple: I asked each member of the group in my session to take 6 shots (with a tennis ball) into a small can from about 12 feet away.  At the end of the activity, the player with the most baskets would win (winning simply meant bragging rights, as there was no material reward attached to this).

However, there was one “actor” in the group.  Seconds before the competition began, I received a fake “phone call” and told everyone I must leave the room, but to begin the game without me.  In my absence, the “actor” was selected to shoot first, and was secretly instructed by me beforehand to cheat.  The actor took 6 shots, but lied to me, in blatant fashion, about how many were actually made once I conveniently re-entered the room moments after the shots were taken.

The actors performed marvelously – that is, there was no giggling or losing character during the act of perjury – and as anticipated, their acting affected the anger levels of many of the shooters next in line.
The temptation is surely for the cheaters – the immoral folk – to take us off our own road.  While we’ve got control of the wheel, in those moments it feels like we don’t.  It feels like our focus, our effort, and our attitude are no longer controllable qualities.

But many players WEREN’T affected by the cheater, and took their own shots with full attention and relaxation.  They stayed on track.  It wasn’t easy for them, not in the least, but as they felt the temptation to sway off their road, they caught themselves.  Their awareness of the anger rising – their own proverbial inner rumble strip – led them to make smart decisions about where to put their attention in that moment (on calming their bodies and minds, and not on the vindictiveness that swelled within them).

The commitment to play our best and give full effort is something that a cheater, or many of life’s other roadblocks, shouldn’t ever influence.  That’s a challenge worth embracing.

Skill + Time = Results

by Matt Cuccaro, Ed.M.

It’s quite obvious that player development is based on building skill over time. The more an individual works at something, the more skills are developed. As skills are passionately pursued throughout a significant timeframe, expert performance appears.  Yet, it can be difficult to maintain this perspective on a daily basis – especially around tournament time. As competition nears, other ideas seem to bubble to the surface:

How many points is this tournament worth?   Who is in the field?  What’s the winning score going to be?

Although these thoughts are exciting to consider, they also tend to become a distraction to performance. The more distractions that arise against the player development mindset, the less attention an individual has to focus on the task at hand; and distracted is not a mindset which is synonymous with success.

Throughout training:IMG_20141007_085300583

Golfers don’t practice making birdies, they practice making smooth swings.

Golfers don’t practice shooting 4-under par, they practice staying target focused.

Golfers don’t practice getting recruited by a college or turning pro, they practice patience.

If distracting ideas start taking over (make birdie, shoot 4-under, get recruited) especially around tournament time, unreliable results are likely to follow. Discussions based on short-sighted results breed a mindset linked to distracted performance, frustration, lackluster effort and potential  burnout.

Parents, coaches and athletes who reinforce a player development mindset (Skill + Time = Results) seek long-term growth and build healthy competitors as a result. These individuals see competition as an opportunity to exhibit skills (smooth swings, target focus and patience) and test personal limits. When skills continue to remain a top priority throughout training and competition, consistent results unfold. As individuals consistently take part in dialogue filled with themes of player development, birdies happen, scores drop and barriers continue to be broken.

This post was originally created for & can also be found at http://www.juniorgolfparents.com/2014/01/29/junior-golf-development-tips/


Share This Article

Bookmark and Share

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 89 other followers

On Twitter @ahnaylor