Don’t Keep a Diary…Keep a Performance Journal by Lanny Bassham
Most of us take a lesson from a teaching pro at some time in our life and we are all self-coached every time we play or practice. Has this ever happened to you? Your golf pro asks you “How have you been playing?” and you say something like “OK, I guess!” You say that because you cannot with precision remember what you have been doing because you have no record of it. I believe that the primary reason people do not keep a record in a performance journal is that they have never been given a really good reason to do it and because they have never been taught how to do it.
OK! Here is why you MUST record your progress in a Performance Journal. I’ll give you three reasons. First, because you cannot manage what you do not measure. Simply put, you cannot afford to be in the dark as you progress. You need to have a plan to reach your goals. So, you set a goal, make a plan and go to a competition. Let’s say you do not reach your goal at that event. If you have a well-documented performance journal you can easily determine if your plan failed or you just failed to work your plan. Winning is not an accident. You must plan your work, work your plan and be accountable.
Secondly, I will not coach an individual without a performance journal and if you are a coach you should demand it of your players. Why, because without one you are wasting a lot of time when you try to coach someone. I know, by referring to the performance journal of my players, how often they are practicing, how long the practice lasts, what went on in the training session or competition, what worked and what did not work, what the objective of each session was and if it was accomplished. I know what equipment was used, when a change in equipment occurred and the reason for the change. I know what the competition results were, what the weather was like on the course and the start time of the player. And what is even more important is that if I can determine this level of information from the journal then the performer can as well. How does a coach know this amount of detail if someone does not record it? I am not willing to trust my memory or that of the player on these critical issues. No journal, no coaching from me. You can’t manage what you can’t measure.
Finally, if you are using the journal only to record information you are not maximizing the use of a performance journal. I believe that the primary benefit of a performance journal is to build Self Image. Self Image is built primarily by imprinting both real and rehearsed images. Every time we think about something it imprints and shapes our Self Image. I believe that when we talk about something it imprints with greater power than just thinking about it. Talking about a bad golf shot is a fine way to cause it to become a habit. We become what we think and talk about. Want to have bad shots frequently, just talk about your failures to everyone. It also seems that mental images that are written down have a greater impact on the Self Image than those that we simply talk about. If you really want to change your Self Image make it a habit of writing down what you wish to have happen. You tend to become what you write about. But, be careful, do not write about anything that you do not want to have happen or you risk disaster.
So, if keeping a performance journal is such a good idea why do so few competitors take the time to keep one. Again, I’ll give you three reasons. First, they keep a diary not a journal. My definition of a diary is to record your impressions, good and bad, of what happened today. Recording the statistics can be helpful and we will do this as well in a Performance Journal but if you record your mistakes you are making a huge mental error and the Self Image suffers. Let’s say you have a bad day on the course and you record all of your failures and just how you performed them. The principle of reinforcement works against you big time. You have just improved the chance of performing poorly again in the future by writing them down in your diary. A Performance Journal, by my definition, has no references to bad experiences or poor performances. It is a performance journal not a lack of performance journal. People who keep diaries often find their performance suffers. When this happens they do the correct thing. They throw the diary away. Diaries don’t work but Performance Journals do and are essential if you really want to improve your performance in competition.
Secondly, competitors do not know how to keep a performance journal and are rarely taught to do so by those who coach them. If they are taught anything they are taught to keep a diary and we have already covered that issue. OK, so what should be in a Performance Journal? I recommend that you record critical information in a journal every day at the end of practice. You should record the date, location, time started and total time spent, weather conditions, what you did (no negative here, just record what you practiced), what you did well, what you need to find solutions for and your goals for the future. You should have an equipment page that is constantly updated every time you change anything. You need a competition page to record your scores in competition and an easy way to relate them to the performance analysis pages. Next you should have a system of storing these sheets in a binder that you keep in a safe place. Keep your performance analysis journal where you can record this information immediately after a day of practice or competition. You can remember things only so long, so do your recording before you leave to head home. Then later place the recorded sheets in your storage binder. If you do not store them in a binder in a safe place you will probably lose them.
Finally, most competitors will not keep a journal because they are just lazy. Look, if you are playing just to have fun this section may not be for you but if you want to win you must separate yourself from the others in your dedication. I understand, I do not like to document things either but I do it because not doing it is just not acceptable. It is not acceptable to be unable to remember what I have or have not done. It is not acceptable to make the same mistakes over and over because I did not record the solutions the first time. It is not acceptable to not know if my plan is correct or if it is working at all. It is not acceptable to be defeated by someone keeping a Performance Journal. It is not acceptable to beat myself. It is not acceptable to lose because I’m just too lazy to do what is needed to win!
A Performance Journal will yield great benefits to you if you are a competitor or a coach and have your players on the system. This is a painless way to keep players accountable to themselves and for you to document what you have done for them. Ask any competitor who keeps a Performance Journal “How is it going?” and see if he doesn’t pull out his Performance Journal and show you.
Performance Analysis, the performance journal that we recommend and sell, is designed to do all of the things that I mentioned above in the article and to grow your Self Image circle at the same time. We do this by encouraging the performer to fill out the success analysis, solution analysis and goal statement steps in our prepared sheets.
We have a Performance Journal you can purchase from our office if you like click here for details. Or call if you have questions about whether a journal is right for you. 972-899-9640 or 800-879-5079