Sunday, January 17, 2010

TAGteach and Golf - How to Save Your Marriage

The birds are singing, your first shot speeds straight down the middle of the fairway and life is good! Suddenly, out of nowhere, unbidden and unwelcome, like a serpent choking the joy from your day comes... unsolicited advice. “Stand a little straighter ... open your stance ... close the club face a smidge ... take it back a bit further”. This well-meaning and often contradictory advice from golf buddies and spouses is rarely helpful and leaves you feeling frustrated and perhaps even a tad homicidal. Renowned golf teacher Fred Shoemaker in his classic book “Extraordinary Golf - The Art of the Possible” advises that spouses and friends can coach each other on the golf course if three rules are followed: 1) coach only when asked; 2) coach only what you are asked to coach; and 3) coach only for a specific amount of time.

A new coaching method called TAGteach™ provides a structured means of implementing Fred’s sage advice. TAG™ stands for Teaching with Acoustical Guidance and uses positive reinforcement to identify and strengthen successful performance. Correct moves or positions are marked with an acoustic tag (a click sound made by a mechanical device activated by the teacher). The teacher (formerly known as the nagging spouse) chooses one aspect that needs correction, helps the student find the correct position and then tags when the student performs correctly. The tag means “yes, that was correct”, the absence of the tag means self-assess and try again. There is no need for the teacher to provide any feedback other than “tag” or “no tag” to allow the student to learn.

The teacher using the TAGteach methodology sets the student up for success by increasing criteria in manageable increments and limiting unsuccessful attempts. If the student does not receive a tag within three tries, it is the teacher’s responsibility to create a tag point that is within the skill level of the student. In all cases, tag points are addressed one at a time and the student does not receive commentary on other errors even if these occur. Other issues will be addressed in future tag points. Because the criterion for success is the attainment of the single tag point and not the completed perfected skill, the athlete and student can focus on multiple incremental successes on that never ending road to perfection.

Published in Bay Area Golfing, Spring 2007

Watch this video in which professional golfer Christopher Smith talks about his experience with being tagged:

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