THE PRE-LESSON INTERVIEW
Prior to working with a new student it helps to acquire information and develop a player profile that will make you more effective as an instructor. It is vitally important to know what you are dealing with as each person is unique and requires an approach specifically tailored to their experience, physical ability, and learning style. A lesson is a two-way communication, and this is a good way to get your student to feel comfortable and begin participating in the learning process. Here are some of the things you might ask.
- PLAYING BACKGROUND. How long have you been playing and when did you start?
- INSTRUCTION HISTORY. Have you had prior instruction? When? With whom? What did you work on?
- ATHLETIC EXPERIENCE. What sports did you play growing up, and which do you still play? Baseball, tennis and hockey players will have some natural motions conducive to golf, and you can use the analogies.
- PHYSICAL PROFILE. Right or left handed? Right or left eye dominant? Corrective lenses or bifocals? Any injuries (back, knee, etc.) or arthritis, past or present? Physical limitations need to be considered and perhaps compensated for.
- CURRENT STATE OF YOUR GAME. What’s your handicap or average score? How often do you play and practice? Best and worst parts of your game? Where do your misses generally go? How’s your short game?
- SELF ANALYSIS AND CURRENT SWING THOUGHTS. What do you think is wrong? Are you trying to keep your head down and your left arm straight? Are you firing your hips to hit it longer? Do you have a concept of swing plane, path, etc.? Really pay attention to what the student is saying. The answers will give you valuable insight to a person’s mindset and where you need to go with your verbal and physical instruction.
- PERSONAL PROFILE. What’s your profession? How do you best process information? Are you a feel player or more mechanical? Are you a “student of the game” who reads and watches everything possible about the golf swing? You might need to teach an engineer differently than a salesman, and certainly a woman who has never played any sports will require another approach.
- EQUIPMENT PROFILE. I love to look at a student’s golf bag, as there can be some good information there. Scuff marks on top of the driver, nine and eleven woods, out dated irons, extreme lie angles, no sand wedges, can give insight into what you are working with.
- GOALS. What do you hope to achieve with instruction? How often will you practice between lessons? Some people are looking for a quick fix for a tournament next week. Hopefully most are seeking long-term improvement and will put in the necessary time and effort. Find out what they want and do your best to give it to them. But don’t be afraid to push for the right motivation.
Learn as much as you can from your students, and you will be a more efficient teacher. Develop your own interview process, and let me know what additions you might have.
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