Coaching Players to Clutch Performance
Cal Bear Women’s Golf Head Coach Nancy McDaniel describes how she coaches her players to be clutch in key moments.
For Nancy McDaniel’s Cal Bears Women’s Golf team it was Do or Die time at last year’s NCAA Regionals. Her team was on the bubble and needed to make at least a few birdies on the last two holes to have a chance to advance. In her Clutch Golfer Interview Nancy describes the situation and how both she and the team responded.
“Nothing needed to be said.” says McDaniel. “They all knew the situation. They could feel it in their bodies, and from the other players.”
There’s no denying the pressure of clutch situations. Even Nancy had to practice her breathing to maintain an air of calm while the other coaches were scrambling to give their players instructions and yardages.
But Nancy believes Clutch is inside all of us and she simply reminded them of all the clutch training they did to prepare for that situation.
“Clutch play is just doing what you’re supposed to do at the time it needs to be done.” says McDaniel. “There was a lot less talking. It was just them, their club, the target and their ritual or pre-shot routine. Everything else melted away. The game plan didn’t change, but the players did.”
Four of the Cal Bears players birdied the last hole to give the team a two-shot cushion and secure a berth in the NCAA College Championships.
Those are the moments coaches and players live for.
How To Be Successful In The Clutch
A big reason for their success is the way Coach McDaniel integrates pressure situations and competitions into their practice sessions. They use Block practice to work on technique and random practice for shot-making. But they put a limit on how much time can be spent. That allows them to play games like ‘chip or die’, ‘jail break’, or ‘prove-it chips.’ And that puts the pressure on them because “We stay there until we get it done.”
Think back to your last couple of sessions on the range.
- Did you challenge yourself?
- Did you create any pressure situations?
- Did you set a performance goal and struggle to reach it?
- Did you deliberately practice your pre-shot routine to make it automatic no matter what situation you faced?
If you want to be a clutch player these are the types of things you should spend time on in practice.
Technique work is important. But it is not the only thing. Every ball you hit should be intentional. Nancy has her team divide balls into 5-ball sets just to make sure they are focused on making every shot count.
Listen to the Nancy McDaniel Clutch Interview. Then make sure to leave time in your practice schedule to prepare to be clutch.
Because as Nancy says “Clutch is fun. Clutch is super-fun.”