by Rick Sessinghaus
Goal setting is a key tool that I use to clarify what the golfer wants, how he or she will get there, and the willingness to follow through. I get a kick out of the most common answers I get when discussing goals. Most of the time a golfer tells me their goal is to, “get better” or “be more consistent”. I understand the reason why people start with these answers, but if we leave the goal like that we will not make any improvement.
Let’s start with some goal setting 101. From my book, Golf: The Ultimate Mind Game I identify three types of goals all golfers need to address for making improvement. Start with outcome goals that are measurable to exactly what you want. An outcome goal could be to lower a handicap from 12.1 to 9.9 by the end of 9 months. This is a specific goal that has a timeline and you will know if you achieved it or not. Next, identify the performance goals that once achieved will bring you closer to achieving your outcome goals. A performance goal could be to increase greens hit in regulation from current 29% to 41%. Performance goals are formed when you evaluate your game and prioritize the key areas of your performance that need to improve. Once all performance goals are identified it is time to write down the third form of goals, process goals. These are actually the most important because they are in your direct control. A process goal is the how part of goal setting. You have identified the what and now you need to know how you are going to achieve your goals. Process goals involve practice, coaching, physical training, and mental game skill development.
Be realistic when organizing your process goals. This is the time commitment you can put into improving your game. At first many golfers get excited about their goals and think they will practice 3 hours a day to improve their game. Unfortunately life gets in the way and they have never practiced for 3 hours and now think they are going to do it routinely. Schedule your process goals into your week like a business meeting. Utilize that time with focused, deliberate practice. I would rather have a golfer practice for 30 minutes three times a week then for 3 hours once a month. An example of a process goal would be to take one golf lesson on improving the quality of contact with my iron shots. After the lesson you would create a process goal that revolves around the drills and exercises your coach gave you to improve your golf swing on iron shots.
Rick Sessinghaus Psy, D, PGA is the author of Golf: The Ultimate Mind Game and specializes in coaching the mental side of golf. He was named 2008 SCPGA Metro Chapter Teacher of the Year and recently named Top 25 Instructor by Golf Tips Magazine. To find out more information please visit www.RickSessinghaus.com.
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