In my eight years of coaching at Seminole State, change has been the only part of our program that has stayed constant. With that being said, there have been practices that have become the foundation of our National Championship Program.
Our first priority is to create a list of Team Goals. We take a realistic look at our talent and do our best to create goals that each player believes and buys in to. These goals become the purpose of our daily practice and preparation. All we work on, all we commit to must relate back directly to our Team Goals. This begins our journey of team building, team spirit and team bonding.
The next priority is to begin fostering an environment of positivity, and one of the new ideas we introduced this year is a change in our vocabulary. We have a list of six words we put on the “Do Not Use” List. This has become a game of sorts as we catch each other using a negative word. Because the team is now aware of their vocabulary, we can more easily recognize our fears, our negative thoughts, and our stress levels, and, as a result, start learning the tools to defeat and overcome our mental weaknesses. Teaching my players new (to them) and proven tools to react effectively to the pressure of college athletics in the classroom and on the golf course is undoubtedly my highest priority.
Another important requirement that is always on the list of our first team meeting is a contract that each player must sign. The contract states, every practice of every day, every player MUST spent 75% of their time on their short game. For most of my players, this is in sharp contrast with how they used to practice. But it does not take long for each player to change her thinking, and it doesn’t take long for their scores to improve.
Compiling statistics is another staple of our program, and it has been compulsory since the beginning. While the collection process has changed over time, and the type of information we collect has evolved, self-analysis has been the cornerstone of our improvement model. If we cannot statistically show where our weaknesses and strengths are through the data we accumulate, practice can become a waste of time. Data counts, feelings do not!
The final best practice I want to share is the most important aspect of our daily regimen. We strive to make practice harder than play. If we can’t perform under pressure, we can’t win. Therefore, practicing under pressure and creating new and creative ways to impose pressure allows me to get creative and have a lot of fun with the players!
Last year, Seminole State won the NJCAA National Championship. I believe that because of our best practices, we were able to realize this amazing achievement. But so much of the credit must go to my players, for they are special. My players come to a Junior College because somewhere along the way, life threw them a shank. They see Seminole State as a second chance, one more opportunity to go to the school of their dreams. Graduation from Seminole State means that there will be a scholarship opportunity at a 4-year school. Graduating and transferring players is what I do, and my goal is to find them a school where they will graduate and play awesome golf. My players don’t take long to believe in what we have to offer them at Seminole, and because of their desire and determination, our best practices are building Champions.