GFAA Best Practice: Ask Better Questions of Your Students

Damon Goddard is the Founder of Goddard Sports Performance & Nutrition in Dallas, Texas.

Damon Goddard on the importance of asking better questions of your students:

I work with golfers of all skill levels, and am frequently asked how our golf fitness sessions differ from the high-level professional to the recreational amateur. People often feel it is easier to work with the best in the world, but I tell them it’s actually harder to elicit a one to two percent performance change when working with someone of high skill. Regardless of my student’s ability, I incorporate the same strategies in my sessions, by considering variables other than skill level. Am I taking into consideration their sleeping patterns, nutrition habits, stress levels and other external variables like travel and what’s going on in their life? By knowing this information, I can better help my students meet their individual goals. Attaining this information means asking better questions of my students. If I want to elicit a change, I have to understand the athlete better. Why now? Why this athlete? How can I build a better exercise program that also helps with his or her sleep, their nutritional strategies, their recovery strategies? After all, I’m dealing with a human being, and mitigating the many variables that cause them to deviate from their peak performance becomes just as vital as the physical fitness regimen we implement. It is very humbling for someone to walk in our doors and ask me to help improve their body. It’s not easy. I experienced this feeling when entering into my first golf lesson. As someone who used his feet to play the game of soccer at a very high level, trying to use a club to hit a ball as small as a golf ball really helped me understand humility. I work with each person on a human level, regardless of their golfing abilities.

Damon Goddard on the business impact of asking better questions of your students:

I want my students to have a better experience in their golf instruction and when playing on the golf course, and asking better questions during their fitness sessions helps me look at the entire picture of the athlete. I build a better, very strategic plan, based on that big picture – there are no quick fixes. It takes a dedicated period of time that requires realistic communication with the athlete. Some say the art of communication is something we’re losing with more digital and less face-to-face engagement. We can buck this trend by asking the right questions, probing our students and clients to get to their core needs and understand the factors that contribute to their deficiencies. When it comes to my most elite performers, I’m looking at blood profiles, sleep patterns, WHOOP analytics – we’re analyzing a lot of things. The low hanging fruit however, are still those simple questions that we should be asking of all of our students: Did you sleep well? Are you hydrated? How are you handling stress? Did you move today? I can dive deeper into all of these issues after initiating the conversation. If a player is overly stressed from a hard day, I can’t expect his or her body to move very efficiently, because their stress mechanism will inhibit movement, even from a swing standpoint. As coaches, we should educate. We must teach our students the proper things to put into play, a structure or framework to be highly-effective. Oral communication, especially asking the right questions, has become more important than ever.

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