Archive for January, 2010

Glory Days

Alistair Tait of Golfweek has a pen that I like. He is out in Abu Dhabi this week for the European Tour event and of course something that will be watched very closely over the first few weeks is how the new grooves rule will change the game. If any that is. Alistair has spent some time with Paul Lawrie who seems to be dreaming about his once very Glory Days. Paul says he is looking forward to the season and he hopes that things will be more like they used to be. In other words, hitting fairways will once again be important and the ability to control the ball and not just bash it and trust that the spin will make it stop on the green will make certain players return to the lime light.

Is Paul Lawrie right? I am not sure. It would be rather nice if he was though I think as I do think that the one-dimensional golf of the last decade or more could do with a bit of “freshening up”. Returning to what used to be seems to be the flavour at the moment bearing in mind that such as swimming axed their super swim suites. Science is a difficult one to beat though and there could be something new out there already!

Daniel’s formula

At a much appreciated appearance at the England Golf Coaching Conference in Woodhall Spa, Daniel Coyle presented on the ingredients of the talent hotbeds that he visited when researching for his book, The Talent Code. Daniel talked about two things as key factors in these talent hotbeds:
-Deep practice and;
-Love

The way he described deep practice is very similar to Anders Ericsson’s way to define Deliberate Practice. It is the very focused way of working to improve every little weakness in a systematic way. Very often this is done together with a coach that can see the potential (“there you go, but I think you can do better – try this!”) and help focus the practice.

While Anders describes deliberate practice as not always that enjoyable, Daniel illustrates how the youngsters that really come through from these hotbeds completely fall in love with what they do. There are stories about how Rory McIlroy used to chip golf balls into his parents laundry machine for hours and hours. Even though for an outsider that sounds like he would be close to ready to be picked up by the men in white coats, it was almost certainly something he loved.

Daniel’s key message is that talent is not something that has been passed on to a lucky few. It doesn’t come in the genes as a gift from above. On the contrary it is a result of doing the right things with a very clear goal in mind – to improve!

When I walk away from Daniel’s presentation I feel really upbeat for two reasons: 1) this journey towards improvement should never stop. Isn’t our biggest challenge to constantly find the next step on the staircase (and make sure that love is still all around!) for the developing players we deal with? 2) everything Daniel talked about is within our control and possible for us to influence.

That should be reason enough for all of us to never want to stop improving!

Always take the weather with you…

What a great song that was! “Everywhere you go, always take the weather with you”. I am pretty sure it was Crowded House. The title kind of settles with me now as I follow the weather in a few different parts of the world. +43 out in Melbourne where some of our England players are battling it out in the first event of the year, the Master of the Amateurs. +33 in South Africa where the England Boys are round robining with South Africa and Canada (see Brian Roake’s blog on right). In the UK? Well, when the England Golf Coaching Conference starts tomorrow I am hoping the drop off number due to adverse weather will not be too dramatic. But unfortunately, I have a feeling I could be wrong! And I guess when you hear horror stories about people having to spend the night in their cars because they are stuck on a road somewhere, then it is easy to see why other alternatives seem quite attractive!

Of course, for a Swede this is quite difficult to understand. I do realise though that much like golf, it has a lot to do with the equipment. Roads need to be cleared from snow and ice and tires need to be right for the conditions. It reminds me about a column I read a little while ago from somebody who reported on the snow in Paris. She said the city had two trucks kited out with the right snow clearance equipment. But one was  on loan to Bordeaux. No wonder Paris comes to a standstill in the snow! It will be interesting to find out how Woodhall Spa and the rest of the country can deal with tomorrow.

Talent Hotbeds

About time to start the New Year! Lots of golf is already underway. The European Tour is out in South Africa, along with the England Boys who start their season with a triangular match with SA and Canada. Follow these matches on Brian Roake’s excellent England Boy’s Golf News blog (see the links section on the right). Way out west the PGA Tour have reached Hawaii for the traditional opening event of the year. Two England Internationals, Tommy Fleetwood and Matt Haines are about to leave for Australia and the early year swing with tournaments like the Masters of the Amateurs, the Lake Macquarie and the New South Wales Championships. A busy season ahead no doubt!

Having spent the holiday season in a very wintry Stockholm I find myself (again!) thinking about what it takes to nurture talent. Next week, the England Golf Coaching Conference will feature Daniel Coyle as a speaker at the National Golf Centre in Woodhall Spa. Daniel is the best-selling author and worldwide recognised speaker behind “the Talent Code – greatness isn’t born, it’s grown”. In his research for the book Daniel visited what he then came to call Talent Hotbeds in various corners of the World. He found many commonalities in the places that seemed to grow talent to a greater extent than others. After a couple of weeks under snow I start to understand how important the environment is. The Stockholm area has not had a proper winter in years. Even though it has been fairly cold there has not been enough snow to go skiing and very few of the outdoor ice rinks have been open. This year it is different and the number of youngsters you can spot outside doing winter sports is amasing.

One of the challenges that sport and pretty much every other activity wanting to attract kids face today is that the home environment is very attractive. This is where the computer is and with that games, friends and Facebook. The Stockholm winter this year has drawn kids away from this and out in the open air. And it is all thanks to the snow and all the fun that the activities in the snow can bring. So the next time we blame the computer and video games for the lack of interest in other activities – perhaps we should try to look within instead and find out what we could do to be more attractive!


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