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Academy Class Hacks: Use The Framework

Matt Reagan

Author: Matt Reagan, PGA

MacGregor Downs Golf Club | Cary, NC

CO-CEO & Founder,  iGrow Golf

I know it can feel overwhelming when you are running your first academy class.  Not only are you trying to build a fun social community, but you are also trying to teach the juniors by delivering the Op 36 Curriculum and making sure the kids are developing their golf skills.  It sounds tough, but it really isn’t when you begin to master the academy class framework.  To master the flow of an academy class you can start very basic, and then improve your delivery as you go.

Basic Academy Class Framework –

Basic DeliveryIf you are just getting started, you may be overwhelmed with the facilitation of the classes and time management.  This would be getting the juniors where you need them to be, getting organized, explaining what you are doing, etc.  If this is the case and you have not developed the facilitation skills quite yet, then it is probably best to stick with a simple framework like the one below:

4:00 PM –  Introduction at Whiteboard
4:10 PM – Training Environment (Variation 1)
4:30 PM – Operation 36 Badge Education
4:45 PM – Training Environment (Closing Game Variation)
4:55 PM – Class Review

Advanced Academy Class Framework –

Advanced DeliveryThe basic framework is good, but we have noticed that when you stay in one area for too long, you begin to lose the juniors interests.  So below is the Advanced Academy Class Framework.  To become an Academy Class pro, you will need to improve your delivery, facilitation, and time management skills as a coach.  Here is the pro framework:

4:00 PM – Introduction at Whiteboard and Warm-up
4:10 PM – Training Environment (Variation 1)
4:20 PM – Operation 36 Curriculum Education
4:35 PM – Training Environment (Variation 2)
4:45 PM – Training Environment (Closing Game)
4:55 PM – Closing / Academy Class Review

Below are some tips for you to follow after you have memorized that blocks above

Academy Class Framework Tips

  • Knowing your Blocks – As you can see above, outside of an introduction and closing of class, you are either doing a Training Environment Variation Block, or an Operation 36 Education Block.  It is that simple!  So in your head you should memorize the basic Academy Framework above so you you can plan the activity for each block and have a basic idea of when to change and where you are heading.
  • Plan using Daily Curriculum Planner – The Daily Curriculum Planner is there for you to get some thoughts down on each of the blocks above.  When you first start, you are going to want to have as detailed a plan as possible for each block which will keep you structured and on track with your class.  As you get into your 3rd or 4th semester and get more comfortable with the flow, it might be just as simple as knowing the training environment you are going to use (and how you are going to vary it in each block), and how you are going to deliver the badge education.  KEEP IT SIMPLE!
  • Have a Benchmark Time – We are fortunate at MacGregor that we have a large clock next to where we do instruction most days.  If I start at 4:00 PM, I always know I am on a good pace if I feel like I am about halfway into the Badge Education by 4:30 PM.  If I start the badge education and check the time and it is already 4:30 PM, I know the opening went a little long and I might have to just finish with a closing game.  If I am already finished with Badge Education before 4:30 PM, I know I am going to have to either have another Training Environment Variation I need to come up with, or I can bring the juniors in and do a review of the Badge Education again.  Ryan Dailey at Keith Hills sets a recurring alarm on his phone that goes off when he should be starting his badge education each class, I thought this was the best idea I have heard to manage your time and keep the flow of class.
  • It won’t go to plan – The art of running group junior coaching is to know it won’t go to plan.  As Mike Tyson says, everyone has a plan until you get hit in the face!  Some days you are going to be on and the kids are going to love the badge education and training environments and it is going to flow.  Other days the kids are going to be a little more wild and you are going to need to facilitate more, or you will see that the environment you designed was not very engaging.  If you have a plan you will be able to handle the issues that pop up during class and adjust on the fly.  If you do not have a plan, your kids will see there is a break in the structure and take advantage. ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN!

I hope the framework and tips above help everyone feel more comfortable coaching the class.  Once you become a master of the framework and managing your time, you will be on your way to worry less about facilitating and can focus more on coaching in the group setting.