Golf Parenting: Focus on the Process, Not Results
By Mark Fairbank – Mental Coach & Head of Performance at BSI Golf
Parenting young up and coming golfers can be an extremely daunting, frustrating and confusing process. As parents we want our children to excel and perform. We want them to win but also enjoy it. Parents can often tread a fine line between reprimanding their child when they perform poorly or leaving them to their own devices through fear of being too hard or saying the wrong thing to add more pressure to the environment.
While there is no easy solution to parenting, especially parenting athletes, here is a tip to make it more manageable. Focus on their effort and behaviour, not their results.
Golf is a game of inconsistency. This is true at every level and is certainly true at junior or youth development level. Therefore results, score and outcome are not 100% in your child’s control. Its challenging nature is what makes golf such a great game and also so frustrating. It is truly a test of skill and mental fortitude.
If we are hard on our child and reprimand them for a poor result, their self-worth can easily become linked to how they perform. Given the inevitable inconsistency of the game, this is not a healthy situation. It can lead to playing with fear and potentially giving up the game. They could be putting in full effort on the course but if the luck and natural elements of the game don’t go their way on any given day they will feel confused as to how they could possibly change their performance to get a different result, and ultimately a different response from their parent.
However, there is a great deal that young elite athletes should be held accountable for in golf. They should be practicing as much as they are told to and more. They must give 100% effort in their practice and they must be committed to their training, in the gym and on the course. They should keep their clubs clean and behave with humility, discipline and etiquette throughout their round regardless of how they play. These are the things that are 100% in their control.
As parents you are making sacrifices for your children to play the sport they love. You absolutely should hold them responsible for the amount of practice they are doing, their commitment and effort levels towards their training and lifestyle. It doesn’t matter what score your child shoots, ever, but it does matter how much effort they put in on a daily basis and how they behave.
Hold them accountable for this and the results will come as a consequence. You will also be teaching them valuable life lessons and showing how much you love them for themselves and not for their results or talents.