Posts Tagged ‘Aaron Ross’

Junior Golf: Teamwork

In this Friday Flop Shot we will take look at an aspect of all golf, certainly including junior golf that is often downplayed, overlooked or just not given enough attention. We’re talking about teamwork. (photo offcoursegolf.com)timg_0106-1

There are teams everywhere in our lives. From family dynamics, the workplace, relationships and extra-curricular activities, teamwork is in action. Sometimes it’s more obvious as in the team sports like football, soccer and the rest. Individual sports have teams as well, it’s just that those teams are mostly behind the scenes. Golf is the 1 individual sport where an aspect of the team is displayed when the event allows caddies. Caddies, good caddies, are absolutely invaluable to the player. In a tournament, the caddy is the only 1 who can give advice to the player and the best caddies give good advice. The player doesn’t have to heed the recommendation, but at least it was offered.

Jordan Spieth uses the term we more than any other PGA or LPGA player. When asked about the use of the term, Jordan says it refers to him, his caddy and his family and friends who have supported him in so many ways during his whole career from junior golf to today. Jordan does certainly understand that he, the player, is the 1 who must actually swing the club and bear the responsibility that goes with it, good shots or poor shots. (photo pgatour.com)image

Mom and Dad, please recognize that you are a junior golf team with your daughter. There is no way any professional athlete can operate without a team, often much larger than you would expect, supporting them. Your junior golfer is every bit as dependent on you for everything except for taking the shot! It is your help with finding the tournaments, getting her entries in, paying for the events and getting her prepared to play in them and then getting her to and from them. And hopefully being on the course with her as encouraging spectators or her caddy, when allowed.

Please allow me to once again briefly visit my Longhorn Legends On The Couch as they discussed their thoughts during the 2006 Rose Bowl National Championship win over USC. This is just fun for me, pardon my indulgence. Teamwork, teamwork and more teamwork was constantly referred to during the analysis of the game. Michael Huff and Aaron Ross, the 2 defensive players on the Legends Couch mentioned the confidence that the defensive squad had in each other. A player could count on his teammates to be in the correct position on every down. And the mentality of the defense was to swarm to the ball. If you get a chance to see this game, please notice how many white longhorn jerseys are involved in every tackle, they were swarming!

Kasey Studdard, Longhorn Legend offensive lineman, said the USC was running the same couple of blitzes, different defenses, when the Longhorns lined up in a certain formation. Well, the offensive line, who had played together for years and may be the best offensive line in UT history, took about 10 seconds to discuss it and figured out how to defeat it and they did so the rest of the game. Superior example of great teamwork!

Yes, team sport teamwork is similar to, but different from, individual sport teamwork. It is however, everyone being on the same page and fulfilling their duties. Parents, please get on board today with your girl’s junior golf efforts. If she’s willing to put in the effort to practice and play then you need to support her, period. If you are unsure of the best ways to support her contact us at icare4parents@gmail.com

See you on #1 tee with support… Sam

Junior Golf: More Championship Thoughts

In this Wednesday Waggle let’s spend a little more time of the way champions think. These are valuable lessons from highly successful athletes.img_0102-1

The mental game or the mindset of a player, coach or team is critical to performing at a high level. In fact most elite athletes will tell you that they wish they had started working on their mental game earlier than they consciously did. The consensus is that the physical part of the game is easier to master than the mental part. We can all see this play out in every sport. (Dufner photo golfdigest.com)

Early in the UT/USC National Championship Game, UT’s Aaron Ross dropped a punt and USC recovered the ball on the Texas side of the field. To paraphrase UT head coach Mack Brown,
“Aaron was the only 1 mad on our sideline because all the rest of us knew what a great player Aaron was and that he wouldn’t do that again.” Wow, what great confidence by teammates and coaches! Having this level of confidence allows everyone involved to focus on what’s important, as in the next play and winning the game. It keeps everybody as calm as is possible in such circumstances. When your daughter hits a poor shot, how does she react? Please encourage her and help her build her confidence so that when she has an undesirable result on the golf course, she can recover and get back to playing her normal game.

As the halftime break was ending and UT was getting ready to go back out on the field, 1 of the offensive linemen gave a brief and enthusiastic rah rah speech. Then Coach Brown uttered his own final words to the team, and I’ll paraphrase his brief statement, “OK, let’s go win this game!” What a classic speech of confidence in his team! They were leading and had 30 minutes of football left and if they played as good as they were capable of they would be National Champions. The team and coaches knew they were good enough. This was the perfect time to reinforce their level of confidence with a few calm and choice words. If Mack had yelled and screamed at the team or thrown things, it would have appeared as as lack of confidence or panic to the players. (photo from google.com)image

Do you remain calm or do you show signs of stress or panic with your girl? Does your daughter believe that you have confidence in her and her abilities on the golf course? If not, Dad and Mom, it’s time to change your tune! Encourage her during practice with words like, “you can hit that shot, chip it in, make that putt, you know how to do that, you’re good enough and of course, I love you.” Our youngsters are fragile creatures who do not want to disappoint their parents. A smile, a thumbs up and an I love you are what your junior golfer needs more than anything else.

Calm and confidence are 2 traits that can vanish quickly during the heat of competition. A couple of bad holes and all of a sudden your daughter doesn’t even think she can hit her golf ball. Some days she’ll recover and sometimes she may not, but that’s golf and that’s life. It’s not how you react to something, it’s how you respond. There’s a big difference.

Tons of excellent golf books and sports psychology books are for sale all over the web. Or look up some world champions and see how they prepared for competition. I suggest you only look at players who finished 1st at least once at the highest level of competition in their sport. Read some of Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus’s quotes or any of the golf legends, male or female. Their insights are spectacular and immediately useful. Help your daughter build up her confidence and the calm that, hopefully, goes along with it.

See you on #1 tee looking calm and confident… Sam

Junior Golf: A Championship Mentality

In today’s Monday Mulligan we will take a look at how champions think and act. It is different from how 2nd place and below approach competition. ( image jennleforge.com)img_0135

As an alum of UT, The University of Texas at Austin, I enjoy following UT sports, especially football. So 1 of the most exhilarating times of my life was watching the 2005 National Championship game against USC, The University of Southern California. I just finished watching a most interesting and insightful show on The Longhorn Network, called Longhorn Legends on the Couch. It featured 6 prominent participants from this game: head football coach Mack Brown, quarterback Vince Young, tight end David Thomas, offensive lineman Kasey Studdard and defensive backs Michael Huff and Aaron Ross.

Let me briefly introduce to these guys. Mack Brown-UT head coach who had a bunch of winning teams, Vince Young-IMHO the most exciting player ever in college football with 837 yards of total offense in 2 consecutive Rose Bowl wins, David Thomas-UT all-time leader in catches for tight ends and a Super Bowl Champion with New Orleans, Kasey Studdard-a great offensive lineman in college and the NFL, Michael Huff and Aaron Ross-both Thorpe Award winners as the best defensive back in college football and Ross also has 2 Super Bowl rings with the New York Giants. High achievers, no doubt!

As I thoroughly listened and enjoyed the nearly 3-hour commentary along with the broadcast of every play in the game, several recurring themes appeared. In no particular order: David Thomas 1st brought up how Mad Dog (UT strength & conditioning coach Jeff Madden) always had them running the stadium, running for the 4th quarter. The result in Thomas’ own words, “We never got tired during a game!” Later it was reinforced more than once, that Vince Young never got tired and rarely broke out in a sweat during a game. He was always faster than everybody else at the end of the game! Please note he was pretty much faster than everyone else during the whole game. FYI being in great shape is as important at the end of a golf game as it is in football! Conditioning counts!

2nd thought: everyone knew it was a National Championship game, but they refused to obsess over that, instead focusing on it’s still just a football game and let’s just play the way we know we can play. We’re good enough to win this game, so let’s go do it! Again, focusing on process rather than outcome. If the process is good, the desired outcome will follow. Same with golf!

Coach Brown mentioned about VY: “Vince, 1 of the best things about your game was your ability to keep your eyes downfield while you were moving around, looking for a receiver or where to run.” This is extremely tough folks and only the most gifted players can pull this off because to look downfield means you also must be aware of what’s coming at you that you can’t see. Scary stuff! In golf the equivalent is looking for the safe zone where you want your next shot to end up, seeing the whole picture then focusing only on the safe zone when you visualize the shot.

Last, for today at least, let’s talk about confidence. Both teams were undefeated and were accustomed to winning. Both were loaded with great athletes. Here’s where great coaching showed up. In the pre-game preparation, the Longhorn coaches knew this would be a tough game and they told the defense that they would have to make a big stop late in the game in order for UT to win. When you initiate that mindset in advance, it prepares the player for a positive result. Texas scored to make it within 5 points, trailing 38-33 with 3:58 on the clock. As UT kicked off, Vince Young was going to each defensive player telling them, “1stop, just 1 stop and we’ll win the game!” You see VY believed he could score on every play from anywhere on the field. He was always calm and unflappable, a very desirable leadership skill.

On a 4th down with 2 yards to go, USC gave the ball to the previously unstoppable LenDale White and yes UT’s defense rose to their expectation of making a big stop and tackled him short of the 1st down. UT got ball on their own 44-yard line with 2:09 to play. You could see it on the coaches, players and fans of USC, they knew they had lost the game. They had not stopped Vince Young to this point and could not stop him now. On a 4th down and 5 from the 9-yard line, VY ran the ball in, untouched, to take a 1-point lead. UT went for a 2-point conversion and made it. Final score UT 41 USC 38. Vince Young scoring the winning touchdown, photo courtesy of thecomeback.com.image

So where is your junior golfer’s mind? Is he calm and unflappable? Well that’s tough at any age. Does he see the safe zone or the unsafe zones? Please help him see only the safe zones. What are his expectations? Does he expect to win? Does he expect to have a few big numbers on his scorecard? Does he have enough golf conditioning to be able to perform well the last few holes of a tournament? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, I hope you will have them soon. Your junior golfer’s expectations may be very different from yours. Getting together on the same page is important.

See you on #1 tee expecting to play well… Sam

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