GFAA Best Practice: Discuss Mental Toughness with Students

Henry Stetina, a four-time Sun Country PGA Section Award winner, is the Program Coordinator of the PGA Golf Management Program at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Golf Fitness Association of America: Overcoming Adversity on the Course – Mental Toughness

Henry Stetina on the importance of discussing mental toughness with students:

Our PGA Golf Management Program offers a wide breadth of content and provides a holistic education to our budding PGA Professionals. In our efforts to produce well-rounded golf professionals, discussions of general fitness, nutrition and mental discipline often arise within the education process and in our relationships with students. In my opinion, everything starts in the mind and manifests into physical activity, like the golf swing, shot selection, discipline or practice. PGA coaches and instructors should place a focus on the mental discipline that it takes to develop one’s golf skills when engaging students during their lessons and player development programming. After all, any physical accomplishment is usually a reflection of the mental discipline of the person, and when it comes to golfers, they are often very disciplined. Whether it’s taking lessons, practicing at the range or investing in new equipment, golfers generally do what it takes to get better. However, it’s up to us as PGA Professionals to turn their discipline and desire into game improvement with our extensive knowledge of the golf swing, custom club fitting, course management and the mental side of the game. After all, in order to make any physical change, you need to first make a mental change. That mental toughness, if you will, is what goes into practicing consistently, every day in cases of competitive golfers. That behavioral change may require a change in daily schedule or lifestyle, again addressing how much the individual desires the game improvement and what they’re willing to do for it. Motivation only takes you so far – discipline and mental toughness are what help an individual persevere through the process of any significant change.

Henry Stetina on the business impact of discussing mental toughness with students:

In most long-term endeavors, it is human nature to look at the desired result, but not necessarily fall in love with the process of achieving one’s goal. When the process seems daunting, approaching life “one day at a time” can allow you to appreciate the process, as extensive as it may be. Rather than be overwhelmed by the big picture and the multitude of steps that encompass the considerable effort needed, think of the things that you need to do on a daily basis, focusing on the present rather than how far you have to go to reach your goal or some level of performance – short term, attainable goals. It can seem impossible when solely looking at the bigger goals, though you need those bigger goals to formulate the smaller ones. Teach your students to take the game improvement one day at a time, one hole at a time, even one shot at a time. Be in the present and check things off as you go. These vital points are important topics of discussion in our program, and should be part of every player development program. Tracking one’s progress and achieving these small tasks make you feel good, like you accomplished something. That feeling fuels the motivation and discipline that it takes to attain almost any goal, in particular being a better golfer.

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