Junior Golf: Unforced Errors

In today’s Monday Mulligan we’ll take a look at something that happens in every sport, it just tends to happen less among the players and teams who are properly prepared mentally. (photo jennleforge.com)img_0135

Unforced errors are our topic today. What are they? Simply put, it’s making a mistake when you should not have. In golf, it’s hitting a poor shot when your ball was in a decent position for you to have hit the proper shot, a good result. You had no extraordinary degree of difficulty or challenges required to hit the good shot. Missing short putts or hitting poor chip shots from a good lie are also valid examples.

In volleyball, service errors are 1 example of unforced errors. If the serve is merely in play, it forces the receiving team to make a play. If the serve is not in play the receiving team gets a free point. The #1-ranked US Women’s Volleyball team entered their semifinal match against Serbia as the Gold Medal favorite. 18 US service errors later-read 18 points for Serbia-our ladies lost 15-13 in the 5th set. In fact 2 of Serbia’s last 4 points to win the match were US service errors. The final point was a block going off of 1 of our girls and ending up out of play, Serbia wins 15-13. Serbia played great, in fact they peaked in this game because China blew them out 3-1 in the Gold Medal match.

How on earth does our team of this caliber commit 18 service errors in 1 match? I mean that’s 18 points and Serbia only beat us by a total of 11 points in the 3 sets that they won! Is it lack of practice/preparation, poor coaching, lack of focus during the game, folding to the pressure of The Olympics or just having a bad night? I don’t know the answer, only the result. Unforced errors took our team out of the Gold Medal Match. To the ladies’ credit they did bring home the Bronze Medal and had a lot fewer service errors! (photo 14-05-1994.blogspot.com)image

Golf’s latest example of unforced errors was yesterday when Rickie Fowler took himself out of contention shooting 5 strokes over par on his last 8 holes, after going 55 holes without a bogey. With a final round 74, Rickie’s fluid swing from earlier in the week disappeared and he could not maintain his great scoring. So he ended up T-7 in The Barclay’s. He needed to be T-3 or better for an automatic Ryder Cup spot. Surely he is still in the running for a Captain’s pick.

Errant tee shots-read unforced errors-led to more difficult following shots, which made pars very challenging on this very tough golf course.

What happened? No telling. Was it really old-fashioned pressure of too many high-value goals dependent on the last few holes? Sure, the pros feel pressure just like the rest of us, but they’re usually better than we are at dealing with it.

Minimizing unforced errors is critical for your daughter. Depending on her age and skill level, confidence is a good place to start eliminating mistakes. Get her off the range and onto the course. Encourage her to remember how it felt to hit that good shot, chip or putt. Ask her how she can feel her muscles soaking up the memory of a great shot. Put these positives in her mind. Pressure is coming and proper preparation and a solid level of confidence are important foundations to be able to handle it.

See you on #1 tee, properly prepared… Sam

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