Ben Craggs - How to learn from your experiences

Ben Craggs Reflection

We learn best when we take some time to learn from our experiences. 

Often this reflection happens when things have not gone the way people expected and this reflection is usually filled with blame and criticism. A mature reflection on practice and competition performance helps golfers to learn and progress steadily with the game.

The process of reflection is straightforward and immensely beneficial for the golfer. It only requires a notepad and pen.

Learn the Skill

1 Strange as it may seem, you have been involved in the process of reflection most of your life. It occurs in most classrooms led by the teacher; however, the children in the classroom often do not recognise what has been happening.

Here is a simple illustration of a reflective process.

Step 1: What happened?

Step 2: How did it happen?

Step 3: How can I learn from what happened and move forward?

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2 This simple 3-step process takes you from not thinking about what you do or what happens to you to a more deliberate strategy to improve your performance. When we write a story we usually explain what happened and then give a possible explanation for how it happened. The only step that is missing here is learning from what happened and moving forward to improve performance the next time.

3 All three parts are necessary to help you get the best from what you do. The final step is crucial for moving your performance to the next level. When we concentrate on the way forward, we are encouraging ourselves to change and gaining confidence from the guidance and direction.

Practise the Skill

1 Practising reflection might seem like a luxury with no apparent benefit. This view of reflection highlights the challenges most people encounter when they try to change something they do for the better. It’s difficult to add a new behaviour to old routines; however, we are moving forward step by step. The first thing we need to do is write out the story of what happened on the golf course.

2 In Step 2, we get a chance to explain how the game went the way it did. This step depends on you being open, fair and curious in your writing. Sometimes we cannot explain how something went wrong which highlights that we need some support – perhaps from a coach - in this step of the process. 

3 In Step 3, you are planning the best way forward for you and your game. The plans you make to improve now need to be followed in the weeks ahead. Simple plans work best.

Play with the Skill

1 Reflection can be done in a notebook but it can also be done in your mind out on the golf course. Reflection on the golf course involves a simple review process. In step 1, we ask ourselves to explain what happened objectively. In other words, how would a commentator explain what just happened? The commentator’s role is to objectively state the facts without demeaning or ridiculing the player.

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2 In step 2, we ask: What can I learn from what just happened to help me the next time? In this step, we are thinking about those things that are within our control.

3 We can practice reflection on the golf course after every shot we execute. It’s sensible to start slowly see whether it is possible practice the reflective process for the first three holes of your next round of golf. You can build up from the first three holes to 6, 9, 12 and so on until you are reflecting on each shot you play on the golf course. After a while, you’ll notice that you can play golf in a calm, relaxed but competitive way. 

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