How to Use Social Media in Junior Golf - Whats on Your Mind

Iain Highfield
  • Author: Iain Highfield
  • GLT Director of Education
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As coaches, we aim to influence human behavior, not just deliver trophies. One area we can easily influence in regard to a student golfer’s behavior is motivation. Motivation can be defined as the direction and intensity of one’s effort, and as coaches, we can impact our student’s motivation in ways many have never considered.


Transformational leadership is a great way to influence. We can display transformational leadership as golf coaches by embodying the actions we want to see in our students. Everything we do, from the words that leave our mouths, the body language we portray and even the statuses we create on social media, should be a mirror for the traits we wish to see in our students.


I passionately believe a coach’s goal -especially at junior level- is to create life-long participation in sport and, in the process, help students learn the Psychological Characteristics of Developing Excellence (PCDEs.) Therefore, the language I use and statuses I write encourage both participation and PCDEs, because these are what matter most, far more than results, in fact.


Results are a poor indicator of future success, especially at junior level

For 10-year-old golfers playing US Kids, biological age and experience create an unlevel playing field; therefore, praising results can be dangerous, and can result in a fixed mindset for student golfers. Or worse, it could teach golfers to have an outcome focus, which will only lead to stress.


Furthermore, an outcome focus encourages golfers to avoid failure. At any age, but especially at such an impressionable time in life as a junior golfer’s, this is crippling. The best way to grow is to learn, and perhaps the best teacher of learning is failure.  


This is where we need to make a stand as golf coaches. It is our responsibility to influence a process focus rather than place such a heavy emphasis on winning, and one of the best ways to achieve this is by praising PCDEs as often as we do results on social media.


Good practice habits deserve to be blasted across news feeds. A student grinding away to best his or her personal record on game-like training drills may or may not see immediate spikes in performance, but that’s not what’s important. This falls directly in line with another area where we should be seizing the opportunity to develop PCDEs, Daily Goal Setting. Putting in the effort to complete (and compete!) these drills means the golfer is learning and growing and putting in the sweat equity. That process and grind is what we should be celebrating. While it’s tempting to sit back and say, “oh, well his or her time will come, and s(he) will get that social praise at a later date,” the more likely -and damaging- outcome will be a student golfer seeing the performance of his or her peers and developing doubt and disinterest in his or her own game. We must praise the process, not just the results! And if goals are completed in the process, even better!


Don’t Confuse This With Participation Trophies

I firmly believe students need to face adversity to grow. However, it’s not our job to create further adversity for our golfers. If training is executed properly, adversity will present itself without additional intervention from us. And, like good practice habits, dealing with adversity should be addressed and praised on social outlets.  


The goal of this article is not to be right, it’s to challenge the status quo and ask coaches and parents to think. Most importantly, it’s to make sure kids grow as golfers and as people while maintaining a love for the game of golf.


The next time you are tempted to post a picture of a student’s success, consider letting the success be a success from practice that day. Or a success related to effort. Or how proud you are that the student bounced back and dealt with adversity. Why not let the success be portrayed as the daily habits our students engage in, rather than the silverware they receive? Fulfillment lies deeper in one than the other.



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