Brad Faxon’s 4 Best Putting Tips

The following  blog post is excerpted from the book “Good to Great Golf: Shatter Your Lowest Round with Absolute Mental Focus.”

Formerly one of the best putters on the PGA tour, Brad Faxon has a success formula that has served him well.  He once led the tour in putting average, 3 out of 6 years. His best putting tips are listed below.  These keys to great putting will help golfers who ask themselves, “why do I struggle with putting?”

Step 1) “Don’t be afraid to miss.  It’s the fear factor.  Worrying gets you into trouble and ties you up in knots.  You develop the yips by being afraid of missing.  Don’t think too much about it.  Look at the line and trust your first instinct.  You can’t be a good putter with too much conscious thought.”

Step 2) “You need a good stroke and a good attitude.  Attitude is the most important.  If I’m not in the right frame of mind, I don’t putt well.”

Step 3) “You need a consistent physical routine.  That makes you more confident.  I prefer if my body moves a little bit.  Staying perfectly still cripples me.”

Step 4) “Like any other sport, being great requires practice and believing in yourself.  I wasn’t always a good putter.  When I practice, I think about what it takes to become a great putter.  It frustrates me when people say I’m a natural and don’t have to practice.”  This a a great practice putting tip.

How do I practice putting? Here are more specific examples of Faxon’s success formula golfers can copy to improve.  “Before I start a round, I take a pen and draw a line on the ball about an inch and a half long.  That line faces the direction I’m going to putt.  I put the ball down with the line pointing toward the highest point in the break.”

“On every green, I check out the wind, the break, whether the putt is uphill or downhill, and if the green is firm or soft.  I don’t take a lot of time doing all that.  I pick out a line and know where I am going to aim.”

“I take a final look from behind the ball.  I step up and visualize the putt and get set.  I square the putter to the ball at address.  Sometimes I take a practice stroke.  Other times, not.  I look at the hole once, then twice.  Once I look back at the ball the second time, the shot starts. I don’t allow anything to creep into my head.”

The toe of the putter is open a little coming back.  It closes, then opens a little bit on follow through.  The toe flows.  That’s why I prefer a heel-shafted putter.  The stroke should be the same every time you putt.  The longer the putt, the longer the stroke.”    

Top PGA tour player Scottie Scheffler has credited improved putting to his recent run of success.

For dozens more super practical, easy to implement golf game improvement strategies, check out the book “Good to Great Golf.”

Top 10 Sports Team Captain Duties

Every team needs to have good leadership. It is critical that your sports team captains are providing the bulk of that leadership. Consultant Michael Voight of Central Connecticut State lists ten “must do’s” for team captains to be successful.  These sports team captain duties will help up your athletic team leadership.  * The following post it taken from Championship Performance Coaching Volume 1.

1) Team Organization – With the busy schedules of student-athletes, captains remind players of commitments and changes in schedules and reinforce team structure.

2) Team Connections – Captains are responsible for connecting with their teammates on a daily basis to ensure all players feel like valued members of the team.

3) Locker Room Climate – Captains try to keep the locker room talk and banter productive and motivating – win or lose. 

4) Practice Leader – Captains keep the practice environment productive, energetic and efficient.

5) Go to Players – Captains need to make the clutch plays when called upon.

6) Lead by Example and Vocal – Captains are the first ones expected to speak up during team meetings. They are the first to go during a drill. They are very familiar with the system and what the coach wants executed and they can effectively communicate that message with their teammates.

7) Competitive – Captains are responsible for setting the competitive tone by getting the most out of every drill, rep, practice and game opportunity.

8) Challenge Teammates – Ensuring that teammates follow the competitive tone that they set. 

9) Make Everyone Else Better Around You – Captains help reinforce coach teachings and strategy instruction. They also help teammates make in game adjustments.

10) Improve Overall Team Performance – Once a game starts, in most sports play on the field is more dictated by players than coaches. Captains must take over as a “coach on the field” role during games.

If you would like to get hundreds more great ideas to help your team improve performance and win more games check out the two part Championship Performance Coaching book series.  Now used as part of the curriculum for the Ohio State University Masters in Coaching Leadership program.

3 Ways Nick Saban Motivates His Players

7 time national title winning Alabama football coach Nick Saban is a big believer in the importance of the psychological aspects of athletic performance and coaching.  He works with mental game coaches like Dr. Kevin Elko to maximize mental preparation and football motivation.  Here are three ways Saban uses the mental game to motivate his players. Excerpted from the book – “The Football Coach’s Game Plan for Leadership.”
The following provides insights into the Nick Saban coaching philosophy.
1) Knows How and When to Push Players Motivational Buttons.
Example: When Alabama lost to LSU a few years ago and got a chance at a rematch in the national title game Elko’s message was: “Remember how you felt right after you lost to LSU? Remember how you felt when you looked across the room at the other players with a broken heart? Now prepare and play this game so you don’t have to feel that way again.”
“I’ve learned a tremendous amount from guys like Kevin that has really helped me understand the best way to help manage guys psychologically so that they have a better chance of being successful,” Saban said. 
2) Understands the Difference between Praise and Encouragement.
Encouragement is different from praise.  If your kid comes home with a report card and it’s all A’s, this is praise: “Bobby, you got all A’s. That’s incredible.”
Here’s encouragement: “Bobby, I saw you doing the things that brought you these grades. I saw you working hard and doing all your homework assignments. I’m glad you like learning.’”
3) Knows How to Use Motivational Catch Phrases.  
Sports motivation quotes and phrases are a big part of Alabama’s football culture and players catch them like touchdown passes. Many will write some of the more popular ones down. 
One of Coach Saban’s favorites and one he repeats often is Benjamin Franklin’s phrase, “Pain instructs.”   A longer version is as follows:  There are two pains in life. There is the pain of discipline and the pain of disappointment. If you can handle the pain of discipline, you will rarely have to deal with the pain of disappointment.”
Another popular Sabanism is “Dead Soldiers Fighting.”
“We get completely caught into a step-by-step of winning the game, and there’s a phrase we got into,” Elko said. “There were a bunch of these soldiers, and they kept on winning these battles. People said to these soldiers, ‘How do you keep on winning?’ They said, ‘We’re dead soldiers fighting. Once we quit worrying about winning and losing, we got lost in the fighting.’”
See what Nick Saban and America’s greatest football coaches do to increase athletic motivation, run great practices and build champion level programs in the book –  
The Football Coach’s Game Plan for Leadership

5 Best Ways for Athletic Directors to Deliver Bad News

The following blog post is taken from the book Control Your Off the Field Concerns

As the leader of your athletic department, breaking bad news is never easy – whether it’s to staff, athletes or sports parents.  When you have to deliver bad news to a team, here are five tips for Athletic Directors and Athletic Leaders to consider.

1) Tell the truth. People fear what they don’t understand. Give as much information as you can following the who, what, when, where, and why principles of great journalism.

2) Put yourself into your players or parents shoes. It’s useless to tell members not to worry or expect them not feel frustrated. They may be going through a wide range of emotions. Don’t leave them guessing about what is next.

3) Acknowledge feelings.  Don’t suggest that the situation isn’t serious or use humor in these situations. Let team members vent negative emotions.

4) Take charge. Outline a specific plan of action that will help you and the team get through the current bad news you are all experiencing.

5) Follow through. Don’t leave team members wondering. Track the progress of addressing the problems.  Deliver frequent status updates until the situation is resolved.

Get hundreds more great ideas to help solve the toughest issues within your program with Control Your Off the Field Concerns. Staff discounts as low as 12.50 per book.

Helping Athletes with Eating Disorders

On a recent SEC Stories episode, five-time Olympic swimmer Dara Torres revealed she suffered with an eating disorder while attending college at the University of Florida.  More common with female athletes, there are ways to look out for and treat these issues.
In the following interview, former Georgia national title winning gymnastics coach Suzanne Yoculantalks about her approach to eating and addiction issues.
 What advice would you give a coach who is dealing with an athlete who has an eating disorder?  First, I’m big on words and semantics, so I call it a food addiction and approach it in a pro-active sense. When our freshman athletes report to campus, we talk about all of us having a food addiction.  It could be weighing yourself in the morning and having that control your day and what you eat and how you feel the rest of the day to counting calories to having certain food cravings.  We all have that in common.
My advice to coaches would be not to control too much what an athlete eats, but teach them proper nutrition.  Too many coaches order foods for their athletes and prohibit certain types of things.  I’ve seen high-level coaches take their athletes to a restaurant and tell the team, ‘these are the only 2 things you can order.’
We have a responsibility as coaches; to not only help athletes reach their full athletic and academic potential, but also in life after gymnastics (or any other sport).  There is too much control and not enough teaching and educating about nutrition.  We focus on body composition (which measures lean muscle mass) and fitness level, not weight.  We want our athletes between 10 and 14 percent body fat.  If they are above 14 percent, they can convert the fat to muscle through exercise.  Muscle mass is important because it controls power and explosiveness.
I’m a big believer in the coaches being an example.  I would never eat a bag of crackers or have a candy bar in front of the team.  What the rest of the team does is contagious. Twenty years ago if we went out to dinner it was common to see a plate of fried cheese and when the freshman would see the older players eat like that, they would think it’s fine. Now, you’ll see pasta and lean meat. It’s not like we tell the girls what to eat and ban anything fried. It’s simply the direction the program has gone over the years.  At the SEC banquet last year, I saw coaches take the desert off the table. That showed a lack of trust in your athletes’ ability to make good choices.
To gain more insights into helping your athletes work through issues not related to sports, check out the book Control Your Off the Field Concerns.

Sports Leadership During COVID

The following blog features a Championship Performance interview with JC Glick, former Lt. Colonel with the Army Rangers who ran their physical fitness unit and now consults with sports teams about using military leadership principles to improve athletic departments.

 COVID Challenges.  This virus has presented sports teams with unprecedented upheaval in routine.  Becoming adaptable and staying focused are important traits to have for both coaches and athletes.  What advice do you have to improve in these areas?

Crisis situations illustrate the best and worst of athletic leadership. I can imagine coaches who were good at managing players truly struggling this time, and that is because managing people is one thing and leading them is quite another. You manage things: time, money, etc.; you lead people.  The best leaders in periods of crisis know their people, and have been in regular personal contact with their players. They are asking them important questions like, “How can I resource you better?”, and “what can I do to help you?” as opposed to simply asking them about the work they have been doing on their own.  When your people are in isolation, it’s more important than ever to check in to ask, “How are you doing?”  as an aside from your sport.  It is about leading holistically and seeing the player as the person.

The coach could also ask how the family is doing. You might say, “Are you worried about getting sick?  What about your parents or siblings?”

The goal should be to support the athlete where they are and find out what they need. By making more personal contact, you build relationships that grow stronger during difficult times. I would also encourage athletes to talk more to each other via zoom.  For example, they could set aside one hour where a group of five or six players has a social time to discuss whatever is on their minds. Really encourage them to keep track of one another.

Back to an earlier point, coaches usually give answers to players, i.e.: “do this”, “don’t do that”, “this is what you should do”.  True leaders really connect by being curious and asking where the athlete see their struggles and what they feel they need to get better.  If there is a difference between the perspective of the coach and the perspective of the athlete, it is an opportunity for more detailed discourse.

Examples: One player may say that they are struggling with nutrition, if they are not in a structured environment.  Another may need more help designing a training workout from home.

The key to leading effectively, in times of crises or not, is about being more curious with those you lead, and listening to either educate them, resource them, or adapt to their perspective.

Get tons more great, practical ideas to improve sports leadership from the books – The Football Coach’s Game Plan for Leadership and just released – The Basketball Coach’s Game Plan for Leadership.

The Bill Belichick Quiz Method to Prepare Athletes

The following blog post is a chapter excerpt from the book – “The Football Coach’s Game Plan for Leadership.”

Super Bowl winning coach Bill Belichick  is a stickler for details – almost to the point of obsession. So how does Belichick drill information into his players so that the retention is so successful?  It’s called random quizzing and his players may be the most prepared NFL team because of it.

The questions can be things that are noticed on film—like a subtle trait of an opponent—or they can be biographical, like when an opposing player joined the team or what his background is.

The variety and seemingly random nature of the questions can cause a degree of panic in the locker room. There’s a hint of psychological warfare to the trivia contests.  It’s great way to increase athlete motivation.

According to players, if a younger member of the team offers an answer, Belichick will often ask a studious veteran if that player is correct. It once happened with star quarterback Tom Bradyand then-backup Matt Cassel.

Belichick would ask a detailed question: “Hey, we’re in the high red zone, it’s second-and-six from the 18. What’s Indianapolis’ favorite blitz?” Cassel would answer “overloading the weak side.” Then Belichick would turn to Brady and ask “do you concur?” On the times Brady said the backup was incorrect, the room would erupt with laughter.

This happened often between veterans and younger players. If the younger player was wrong, Belichick would tell him: “You need to meet me in my office tomorrow morning to study,” a former player noted. “He would kind of turn players against each other to push them as far as he could.”

Defensive back Tavon Wilson said that Belichick can also turn the tables and ask younger players if the veterans are right. “He tries to find different ways for us to answer the questions.”

While a wrong answer can lead to laughter in a meeting room, make no mistake, players say: It’s a miserable experience for the player who was incorrect.

“It’s a chill silence for a few seconds. Bone chilling. If he doesn’t move on from there, and he’s just looking at you, oh yeah, it’s pretty awkward,” Wilson said.

Players say the quizzes are vital when they are on the field. Veterans who have played for multiple teams said the questions, and the anxiety that comes with being unprepared, contribute to a team that studies harder than just about anyone.

“Sometimes he’ll hit you with a couple real tough questions. But you’ve got to know that. And it’s not him just asking questions— it’s him trying to depend on us, us showing that we know what’s going on,” said safety Patrick Chung. “It keeps our minds going, it’s a daily thing… if you can anticipate certain things, or you know the game plan inside out, it makes it a lot easier to play fast. If you’re thinking about stuff, it’s impossible to play fast.”

Get hundreds more great ideas like this to help your team win more this season with the book – “The Football Coach’s Game Plan for Leadership