In any sport, there is large difference between being an amateur and a professional. For professionals, performance within a sport can make or break their careers. Sally Little’s autobiography “Capturing the Fire” provides many useful tips in making the transition from passionate amateur to performance consistent professional:
Practical practice presents perfection
“You cannot learn ballet from a book.” The greatest benefit of golf is that anybody can play it. The greatest drawback is that anybody can play it. On a practical level, when it comes down to the fundamentals, the core difference between two players is the amount of golf balls the one is willing to continue hitting after the other calls it a day.
New is not necessarily better
Sally’s transition to turning professional reached new heights when she relocated to the US. She soon however realized that a new environment made her doubt herself and want to upgrade to new styles to keep up with her new rivals. “When I went to the States all I wanted was a different coach. My father was my teacher through all my amateur years but when I turned professional, I did not think he was good enough for me. I resisted a lot of what he had to impart to me. I was 18 or 19. My father taught me as an amateur and now I had to find the best in the US. I realized very late that it is not always good to change instructors because you think you will get better. You’re supposed to stick to who you know. It stunted my professional growth for the first four years in the States. I thought I needed the big gurus there. I had a great swing but I didn’t know what a good swing was so I got confused. Too much analysis paralysis, you see.”
Be yourself everyone else is taken
In the same breathe, Sally came to realize that in doubting her talent, she began to undermine it. “My golf mechanics were so good but I still tried to emulate the Americans.” By doing so she wasted years never fully capitalizing on her own inner potential.
Partner with people of purpose
Apart from her father, Sally’s main coach would prove to be a character worth a whole chapter in her book. Bob Toski was no fly-by-night golf coach as he was the first living instructor inducted into the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame and he is also a member of the National Polish-American Hall of Fame. Sally soon realized the value of partnering with someone of vision for vision is seeing what others believe cannot be done. Bob was instrumental in imparting that vision.
Get used to a crowd
A component of golf that players forget is that it is not only the competition that gets tougher when you tun professional, the crowds also get bigger. Dealing with this pressure to perform is crucial to consistent play. This is embodied in Sally’s frst play for her new coach Bob Toski who wanted her to play infront of his coaching team “Can’t we do this alone? Do I have to hit in front of everybody?” Sally begged. Toski says, ‘You got to get used to the crowds. You gotta do it!”
For more crucial tips on taking your game to the next level, purchase “Capturing the Fire.”