So I guess one of the real skills of a coach is choosing the areas of a players game that need developing and which are most important at any one point in time?
Particularly in this day and age of self help YouTube videos this is where we as coaches make the real difference!
Obviously good lines of communication between player and coach are vital to establish simple facts such as is a player is unhappy with his driving etc etc
That said you would be amazed how many people wander into my performance studio for the first time and when I say ‘What can I do for you?’. They say ‘I’m not sure really!’
Equally it’s incredible sometimes after watching a round from one of my Tour Players how different their version of events was compared to mine walking round behind the ropes.
Now I’m not saying my opinion was necessarily right always, but at times the players ability to reflect on performance is clouded by the emotion the game presents us with!
Players either simply just don’t have any idea of which department and shots are an issue, or at best have tainted views dependent on recent rounds etc. In short they are playing a lottery as to whether they choose the right things to practice or develop.
It is my strong belief that for fast and sustained development of a players game the key element is planning the correct areas to work on both for development and maintainance.
In fact this is why I called my company Performance Managed Golf because that is exactly what I do for a living!
So how do we go about this?
For Tour Players I would use a three pronged investigation
Talk to the player
Talk to the caddie
Look at performance statistics
The player is always the most vital, as being able to get a player buy into anything new will require them to believe it actually needs doing.
The caddie is vital as he sees things in a more impartial way that the players miss and probably more importantly the types of shots the player doesn’t like and shy’s away from in the heat of battle.
My favourite though as most of my players are well aware is good set of performance stats. These not only allow us to choose areas to develop but can track exactly whether things are improving or departments are slipping. It is basically a set of accounts for your golf.
Now here is the problem!
Very few people likes doing accounts! Equally very few golfers like doing stats! So I get a mixture of things from my players.
Part complete stats
Stats only on good rounds
All of the above are useless and don’t help the coach make good decisions. Yes of course we can coach players without stats but you go and ask any leading coach if it’s easier with a good set of data!
In simple if you are serious about improving your game take the 15-20 minutes it takes after a round to gather the information that will be so valuable.
I think it’s no surprise that the players I have had my longest and most sustained progress have all been good at gathering this information.
So what information do we need?
Well if you’re thinking Greens In Regulation (GIR) , Driving Accuracy, Putts Per Round, Sand Saves etc they may be a decent start but there is an inherent problem with these stats that invariably rely on each other so are not a good independent measure of a department of the game.
For example if you miss lots of greens, you will have lots of chip shots and chip shots generally go closer than full shots. Hence when you start from closer to the hole you will have less putts!
So a low GIR probably leads to less putts.
With this in mind it was always tricky for coaches to know really how good a player was in any given department .
Then in 2014 along came Mark Broadie and changed our lives for good with his book ‘Every Shot Counts’. This is a must read for any coach or serious player looking to understand the statistical element of the game.
In simple he used 12 years of shot link data from the PGA Tour to give us a benchmark value of shots from all distance and lies that an average tour player would take to complete the hole.
In other words a currency for golf shots!
Whether you are an amateur or a tour player there are now countless programmes and apps that use his benchmark in the currency known as ‘Strokes Gained’.
You can now in a matter of minutes enter a round of golf and see the true value of every shot you played!
The power of this as a coach is undeniable. Being able to see a player's strengths and weaknesses, track improvement and know the exact DNA of a player in the 4 main areas, Tee Shots, Approach Shots, Short Game and Putting is vital.
Furthermore these systems now dig even deeper and give an almost limitless number of ways to analyse your game.
I for one would love all my students to keep stats maybe just starting with a simple stroke average but eventually moving on to one of the proper systems.
My system of choice at the moment is Anova Golf. It’s quick to enter, intuitive and gives an outstanding numbers of statistics. They do a free 30 day trial if any of you are interested click the link below for more details.
Remember if you truly have the passion to improve, arming your coach with the best information is a massive step in the right direction!
If any of you are interested in discussing your game with me on a more detailed level
give me shout here.