Sunday, December 2, 2012

GASP

There is an acronym we use a lot in the golf world. It stands for Grip, Alignment, Set-up, and Posture. GASP. Teachers use it often and early with students, and it is the focus of a tremendous amount of golf instruction.

I will be honest with you though my approach to GASP is not traditional. Is alignment important? Absolutely! But structuring a class around clinical terms, and having those terms be our goal, is not a way for a child to learn.

Teaching a child posture involves a lot more than simply saying the name. It means standing tall like a mountain. It means understanding how they move in their bodies, and where they’re at in their development. It is about me tuning in to their relationship with not only golf, but also their own physical evolution. I cannot teach in a vacuum—no one can. What I CAN do, and what I have found brings tremendous success, is making these terms work for the children, not the other way around.

What do I mean by that? Well for starters I have come up with a new acronym. At UGA we now employ GASP: Games, Attitude, Success and Play.   We use games to introduce, teach and reinforce Grip, Alignment, Stance and Posture. We do it with a positive, can-do, fun attitude. We guarantee success in these games for all the children regardless of their skill level and we play.

What is the end result? Children love the game of golf and get good at it even without using the traditional terms, and they keep coming back for more. Don’t believe me? Think about it. When you were a child what subject did you succeed at the most? Was it history? Reading? Athletics? Math? Now think about who your early teachers were in those areas. It’s likely that not only were these instructors people you really loved; it’s also guaranteed that you had the most fun in that subject. Because joy and play, lead to success.

One of my favorite stories is the one a very famous golfer’s coach tells about the pro at the age of eight. They were having problems with his grip. It was crazy, and no matter what they did to fix it, it didn’t work. Why? He wasn’t ready, but they kept on it. They tried different techniques and they kept playing. They played through the challenge. They did not stop and try to fix it, but made the process of achieving dynamic. His coach loves to say: “There was no rush. We knew he’d get there.”

We know we will get there. IF (and this is a big one) we love the game.

Children don’t stop playing at eight, just like this pro did not stop. The game is life-long. Now is the time to lay the foundation. But the foundation is not grip. Nor is it the perfect swing. The foundation is creating an environment and dialogue around golf that will encourage them to not only grow with, but into the game.

What we can do right now to work towards success, to ensure it, is to teach children how to be present in their game. And we do that by taking advantage of every single teachable moment, and making more of them. When children are having fun, they are open. They are open to our instruction. They can receive our guidance with their ears, eyes, and hearts. But when they are being told what to do, when expectations are being projected onto them, they shut down. It’s the old saying—you cannot expect to receive if your fist is closed.

Our job as parents and educators is to make sure children remain open. We can curate and cultivate an environment of joy. That is the gateway to having them excel. It is not perfect posture. It is perfect presence.

Stop. Listen. Be present. Be joyful. This is the recipe for success.

PLAY today,

Kate

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