Juggling and playing better golf

Cameron juggling

Cameron juggling

One of the best coaching performances I ever saw came from an emergency school teacher. It was a Year 11 English class, and because the regular teacher was absent, this poor guy was thrown into the deep end and told to look after my class for 45 minutes.

I can’t remember his name, but he was from the UK and was doing some temporary teaching to fund his holiday to Australia. He wouldn’t have been much older than my rowdy classmates (I was a quiet one) and they were giving him a tough time.

His method for controlling the class and getting everyone’s attention was brilliant – he certainly had the last laugh. It’s something I’ve never forgotten and the skill learned has stayed with me for life.

He taught us to juggle.

This might seem strange for an English class, and I’m sure in this day and age he’d be in all sort of trouble for breaking from the regular curriculum, but this stand in teacher was on fire.

He grabbed a girl from the front row. She wasn’t a sporty type, you’d probably call her a geek (don’t geeks always sit in the front row?). He then gave her a few verbal instructions. Not many. Just enough for her to start throwing a ball from one hand to another.

He beefed up the task by adding in some trickery. Another ball, another small verbal cue. And each time the geeky one was able to successfully accomplish the task.

The class was silent. I can remember vividly watching my classmate concentrate on the balls. Her tongue was sticking out, determined to do what the teacher asked of her.

After a few minutes the class erupted. The girl was juggling. She was a little awkward but she was able to keep the three tennis balls in the air for a few rotations.

She sat down to some applause and the class returned to normal activities.

I raced home that night and followed his instructions (they were easy to remember). I wanted to learn to juggle. Like my classmate I started slowly. I mastered one part of the skill and then added another. It was actually pretty easy for me because I certainly wasn’t a geek – I had years of throwing and catching experience behind me.

I was still surprised when everything clicked. It was like magic. In an instant my hands knew exactly what to do and the balls stayed in the air. In ten minutes I’d learned how to juggle and I can still do it today.

I know juggling isn’t the hardest skill going around – but if you’ve never done it I challenge you to learn how in ten minutes. Performing skills come quite easily to us. Learning them is what causes the pain.

In this instance I’m sure the teacher could have gone into great detail about the technique of juggling. He didn’t. He started with something simple and then asked for the pupil to try. He didn’t interfere, yell, scream or keep barking orders. He was calm and guided the girl through the learning process.

It was an enjoyable experience and I’m sure some of my classmates from that day still remember it.

Automatic Golf is a bit like my juggling story. It makes learning something that appears a little bit complex and makes it simpler. I’ve been saying for many years that golf should be no harder than riding a bike, driving a car or throwing a ball. If you find the game frustrating, confusing and annoying then there’s no doubt in my mind that you’ll be making it harder then it needs to be. Perhaps you can:

– stop expecting miracles and focus on playing the game and having some fun
– slow down a little. I’m not talking about your swing, but your thought process and your expectations
– change your focus. Remove the scorecard and go and play how you really want. I promise this will be liberating and will change your outlook
– have a break. Maybe you’re burned out and need to go do something else for a while

If you’re interested I’ll shoot a video on how to juggle and highlight an important aspect of the coaching process. Leave your thoughts below…

Comment using Facebook


  • James Smith

    Reply Reply August 3, 2013

    I can vouch for leaving the scorecard behind. It really works. Silly, but true. Another thing you can do is to adjust par for each hole to match how you play. You can really have fun doing that. 🙂

  • Adam

    Reply Reply August 4, 2013

    Your idea of changing par according to how you play is like what tiger woods did. He called it tiger par. It was when he was young.

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field