What Golf Coaches Can Learn From the NFL Combine
At the end of the day, a golf coach is the same as the coach of any other sport. A significant portion of a golf coach’s time is spent analyzing the performances of players, judging progression, deciding which facet of a golfer’s game needs the most time and attention. Nowhere in the sporting world are these traits utilized more than during the NFL Combine, where NFL coaches, scouts, trainers and doctors examine prospective players prior to the NFL Draft. In part one of our series on the NFL Combine, we will take a look at what golf coaches can learn from the event.
The NFL Combine features a series of drills that players must complete in order to receive a pre-draft evaluation grade. These tests, the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, 3 cone drill, shuttle run, and Wonderlic exam, focus primarily of physical abilities, but also provide coaches insight to the work habits, commitment, mental toughness and problem solving/critical thinking skills of the players.
Perhaps the most highly publicized drill during the event is the 40-yard dash. The drill, similar to the 40-yard sprint in the Olympics, measures a player’s speed, explosiveness, and (obviously) run times at intervals of 10, 20 and 40 yards. While how quickly a golfer can run 40 yards is of little importance, measuring at different intervals is a concept golf coaches should be extremely comfortable with, especially coaches utilizing a Game Like Training system. By forcing players to focus on not just their top speed, but also how efficiently that speed can be reached, coaches must train players to do more than simply run fast. Similarly, golf coaches must teach players not how to hit a ball as far as possible, but how to hit a ball as effectively as possible in as many different situations and stress levels as possible.
Another event that receives significant attention during the NFL Combine is the bench press, which asks players to lift 225 lbs. as many times as possible. This tests player’s strength and endurance, but also provides coaches insight into how often a player has frequented the weight room during his 3-5 years in college. For golf coaches, this is replicated by asking players to keep track of their game, recording not just what they’ve shot, but how they’ve prepared, their thought processes, etc.
The 3 cone drill is designed to test the player’s ability to change directions at high speed. The idea of cones spread across variable distances should be nothing new to golf coaches that follow a Game Like Training regimen. At GLT Golf, we frequently ask golfers to hit shots from different locations in various patterns in order to help develop the necessary skills to be able to adapt shots to whatever location a course throws their way.
Perhaps the easiest event at the NFL Combine to compare to a Game Like Training Golf approach, the Wonderlic exam measures a player’s problem solving and critical thinking skills by forcing him to answer 50 random questions, or as many of the 50 as possible, in 12 minutes. The time constraint, variability of the questions and pressure of the event all are designed to test how a player can adapt and react. As golf coaches, we should be helping players develop the skills to mentally handle whatever the course has to offer. GLT Golf encourages coaches to sometimes intentionally upset a golfer’s routine, it can be something as simple as asking a parent to drive a junior golfer to the course a few minutes later than usual, to help the golfer learn to adapt to adverse conditions.
So, what can golf coaches learn from the NFL Combine? In short, golf coaches should learn to train players in a manner that will encourage learning, growth and development in multiple skills, both mentally and physically. Golf coaches should be trying to create golfers that see adversity as an opportunity, not a hurdle. Golf coaches shouldn’t let players fall into too comfortable of a routine. There’s nothing routine about a round of golf. If you’d like your golfer to develop skills that are applicable to an actual round of golf, not just the driving range or practice green, you have to create situations that are Game Like. At the NFL combine, teams aren’t looking for professional sprinters, jumpers or weight lifters, they’re looking for players with skills to help win games on Sundays. As golf coaches, the goal should be the same.