The Performance Chain - The Heart of What We Do
We all play golf for different reasons and we all have different goals when we think about where we want our golf game to be. But wherever we are on our golfing journey, one thing unites us – we want to play better tomorrow than we do today. Why, then, do so many of us find getting better is so difficult? Technology makes golf balls go further and straighter and clubs are more forgiving, but the average score shot by golfers has not come down in more than 60 years. Clearly, we are going about the process of learning the game of golf all wrong.
Let me share with you why I think so many golfers are struggling to get better and often quit the game. When it comes to improving, most of us just take a technical approach. That means we like to go to the driving range and work on our technique. If we are really serious about getting better, we might even “take a lesson” from a pro or buy the latest golf gadget we saw advertised. There lies the problem.
Golf is a complex, difficult sport that requires many different skills in order to play it well. While good technique is certainly one of the necessary skills, there are also physical skills that are required, emotional skills that are required, and mental skills that are required. Each one of these skills are like links in what I like to call The Performance Chain (credit to Dr. Rick Jensen who first shared the concept with me). Your chain might be mostly full of strong links, but it only takes one weak link for the chain to break.
So, in short, if we want to play better golf, we need to begin to look at golf holistically. That is how golf should be coached. When I get a chance to
work with players in this manner, improvement comes rather quickly. And I find that players don’t regress backwards, even during times when they have less time to devote to their game. Now, I understand that not everyone wants to play professional golf one day so it’s unrealistic to expect every player to fully engage in the development of every necessary skill, so I work with players to see what makes sense for them. So, what are the skills necessary to play the game at a high level? I’ve put them all together in a list and categorized them according to types of skills. My job as a coach is to assess a player and help them understand which skill on the list is the most important for them to work on first to see improvement in their golf game. Then we talk about which skill we need to work on next. And so the process goes.
So, here’s the list…
Touch / Feel
Ability to Stay Present
Ability to Stay Positive
Ability to Control Emotions / Heart Rate
Ability to Develop and Maintain a Game Plan
Ability to Visualize
Relationship with God
Relationship with Others
Inner Peace (Relationship with self)
Conflict Management Skills (others)
High Club Head Speed
Club Face Stability at Impact
Consistent, Repeatable Club Path Through Impact
Ability to Control Trajectory
Ability to Shape Shots in Both Directions
Ability to Play from Various Lie Conditions
Short Game Skills