Game Like Training, Motor Learning

5 Common Myths of Player Development And What To Do About It

driving range

There are a lot of misguided common beliefs and myths about player development that we tackle in this episode of Game Like Training Radio with special guest Iain Highfield. If you’re a coach, parent, or junior golfer, MAKE SURE to listen in to this episode!


Player Development Myth #1 – Players don’t need mental training

With most players not making it onto the PGA tour till their mid to late 20s a junior golfer has 10+ years until they achieve “their goal”. Pursuing excellence of a craft for 10+ years demands grit and resiliency to be able to make it over the long haul.

Beyond just the demands of playing golf many players have to adapt to cultural or lifestyle differences which can have a big impact on development.

Mastering golf doesn’t align with today’s “quick fix” culture.

What is mental training? Helping golfers develop psychological characteristics of excellence. I ncluding… meta-cognication (self-awareness), goal setting (mastery goals over ego goals), growth mindset, grit, resilience, self-determination, focus on process.

Player Development Myth #2 – – Parents don’t matter

One of the biggest factors that dictates if a junior golfer will become an elite athlete or not is their parents.

It’s the coaches responsibility to work with the students and parents to reduce interference and educate parents on the vital role they play in the process of athlete development.

Potential – Interference = Performance

Player Development Myth #3 – The coaches knowledge is most important

A great coach is a transformational leader. A coach exudes the qualities that are trying to be coached in the student.

Students model behavior… Coaches what are you modeling?

Player Development Myth #4 – Kids Must Win

If you go and win junior worlds as an 8 year old you’re going to be a super star… Probably not the case. Don’t push kids into early specialization and be conscious of their phase of participations (listen to this past episode).

The goal as a coach is not to get 7, 8, 9 year olds winning it’s how many people leave the game. Change the metrics.

Player Development Myth #5 – Kids must perfect their swing / technique

If a young adult is growing quickly and their body is changing rapidly working on technique can have a detrimental effect golf game and mindset. You have to look out for this phase and create more feel and general awareness drills if possible.

During the 13-14 year age group kids are most likely to drop out of the game even if they were incredible at a young age.

Links Mentioned:

About Iain Highfield

iain highfield golf coachingIain is the Director of Mental Performance at the Bishops Gate Golf Academy and the International Junior Golf Academy. Qualified in Economics and Business Psychology as well as Sports & Exercise Psychology, Iain began to apply his coaching models to junior golf in 2009. In 2011 he Co-founded Leap Golf UK and worked with elite juniors as well as Ladies European Tour, Euro-Pro, Challenge Tour and European Tour professionals.

During this time Iain was based at the Nike Golf academy in Leeds and also consulted for De Vere Golf Academies and England Schools Golf, as well as holding a coaching position wtih the Nottingham University golf team. At the end of 2013 Iain fulfilled a lifelong ambition, moving to live and work in the United States and sharing his passion for enabling junior athletes to evolve into exceptional athletes and outstanding people.

Iain’s coaching philosophy centres on an eclectic and holistic mental performance program that allows players to experience freedom, flow and fun in competition.

Previous ArticleNext Article
Founder and chief curator of the Golf Science Lab. Documenting what's going on in the world of research and beyond that can help you play your best golf on the golf course (when it counts). Join the movement of researched based coaching over trusting beliefs and what worked for one person a few decades ago. Follow on Twitter