03.13.2014
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LEARNING LARGE CHALLENGE- REVERSE SHADOWING

post by corey lundberg

REVERSE SHADOWING

One of the most valuable learning experiences available to us is get out and shadow other coaches in action.  But, despite the massive value, it’s still a relatively passive endeavor.  Sit back, observe, take a few notes, and hopefully stumble upon a few takeaways to bring back to your coaching operation.

So in the interest of more active learning, the first Learning Large Challenge will be Reverse Shadowing.  Your mission, should you choose to accept it, will be to elicit the help of a trusted mentor to shadow you in a lesson.  Either invite them to come watch a live lesson or record yourself giving a lesson and send it to them for review.

Though the potential for learning may seem obvious, it appears to be a rare occurrence. Due to the nature of private sessions, so often coaches are out on an island.  No one is around to offer feedback on communication style, technical advice, lesson structure, etc.

And honestly, it’s easy to see why a coach might not be eager to volunteer for such scrutiny.  It’s far more pleasant to stay within our comfort zone and avoid possible embarrassment or criticism.  If your students seem pleased with the product, why allow a judging eye to infiltrate the lesson tee?

It’s not unthinkable to imagine a coach could go an entire career without ever getting honest, candid feedback on how they deliver a lesson.

A few months ago, while consumed in my nightly routine of ‘learning’, I saw a video in a Facebook forum that presented a radical alternative.

Eric Cogorno, a great young coach from Pennsylvania, recorded himself during a lesson, posted it to a popular teaching forum, and elicited feedback from the other coaches in the group.  2,433 other coaches to be exact.  If you frequent these forums, you know they are not always the most altruistic of learning environments.  Flamers and trolls abound.  This was a gutsy move.  I wasn’t sure if Eric was fearless, stupid, naive, or a combination of all three.

In the interview below, Eric describes his experience and gives us every reason in the world to follow his lead.  He purposely invited the harshest critics and collective experience of nearly 2500 coaches because he knew they wouldn’t pull any punches.  Eager to discover any hidden flaws in his coaching, Eric leaned in to any possible fear and took a leap.

It serves as a statement of his passion for coaching and desire to continually improve.

If you have any doubt that Reverse Shadowing is an absolute must for continued development, read Eric’s interview below.  Inspiring stuff from a truly Curious Coach.


CL: What gave you the idea to post the live lesson video to Facebook?

EC: As someone like yourself who is constantly studying and searching for more information, there are a lot of sources out there that can provide just that.

And that’s great, but I started to see a problem with how I was doing things. I am absolutely addicted to golf coaching. I read/watch everything out there, it bothers the hell out of me that other people know things that I don’t. I am studying literally almost 24/7.

So after a lot of studying I started to realize that by knowledge base was drastically improving. Only one problem– my coaching wasn’t improving as drastically as my knowledge base. It was far from a 1:1 ratio. So I started to think to myself that I need to start to work on my actual coaching, not just how much I know about the game.

What better way to do that then to film yourself coach and have others critique it?  So that’s how it started and kind of took off from there.


CL: Any apprehensions about posting for the world to see?

EC: Absolutely. Sometimes people on those forums can be brutal. But that’s exactly what I needed. Brutal honesty. I didn’t want someone to watch the videos and be a “yes man”. I wanted someone to tell me what they really thought. What was I doing well? What was bad? I needed that!

I saw this as a good opportunity to be real with myself and get some really valuable constructive criticism from some of the best coaches in the world.  We would be nuts to not tap into that when you think about it.


CL: What kind of feedback did you receive?

EC: It was overwhelming. The response was great. I got a ton of private messages from various coaches telling me they loved what I was doing.  Everyone gave me their feedback with what they thought I did well and what I didn’t do so well.  When I watch that video (which seems like so long ago now) I feel like I could tear it apart– so I’m sure a lot of people were going easy on me, haha!

Even better than the messages were the phone calls.  It’s amazing how willing people are to truly help you when you just ask!  I received so many valuable pieces of advice from that video it’s incredible. The best part is that most of the coaches that called me after the video still call me to this day to discuss what is going on with our coaching!  Everyone out there is more than willing to help, you just have to ask!


CL: How have you been able to apply the feedback to your coaching?

EC: I think it has been sort of a gradual process.  A lot of things didn’t change over night.  Often I would be in a session with a player and something would happen where I would think, wait a second I remember so and so talking to me about this.  That sort of thing happens a lot.

Some of my communication styles changed. I learned to talk a lot less and not give as much information (which I’m still working on).

The best part of the whole process is that I still to this day record myself coaching.  I watch the videos and take notes.  Then I’ll send it out to these coaches and we will discuss what happened.  It’s a process.  Trying to get a little bit better everyday.


CL: What advice would you give to other coaches looking to Reverse Shadow of the first time?

EC: Pull the trigger!  Everyone is really willing to help you along your journey.  All you have to do is ask!  It takes a little courage, I know, but it can go a long way.  Look yourself in the mirror and be honest with where you are.  Are you as good as you can be?  Do your students deserve the best?  I think they do.

Start by recording a full lesson and watching it yourself.  Take notes.  What did you like?  What didn’t look so good?  When I watched my first few lessons, I was shocked!  I really didn’t like how I was sounding.  I often spoke way too fast and jumped from topic to topic without even realizing it.  I would have never known that if I hadn’t watched myself!

Next, pick out some coaches you are able to get into contact with and ask them if they are willing to take a peek at your video.  I would be willingly to bet just about everyone will help– and help a lot!

I like to take it a step further and usually about every 2 weeks I’ll have someone come and actually watch me teach live. This is even better as they can see the complete interaction with the students from start to finish.  Typically I’ll just have a local teacher or someone I work with do it.  Then afterwards we discuss what happened.  How could it have been better?  What would I have done different?

There are so many options here! I just really hope everyone takes advantage of it, I think you will regret if you don’t.

If anyone has any more questions or needs any help implementing a plan, please let me know and I would love to help! Best of luck.


In planning this series, I knew all along that this was going to be the first Challenge, but the interview with Eric got me even more fired up.  His answers blew me away.  More than persuading us to take action, he makes you feel like you would be crazy not to!  Why haven’t I done this already?!

Follow Eric on twitter for more insights.  As you can tell from his interview, he is the kind of coach you would want to take lessons from– authentic, impassioned, and driven to deliver an extraordinary product.  I love the example he sets for the rest of us.

So, now it’s up to you.  I would LOVE to hear about your experiences with Reverse Shadowing.

Leave a comment and let us know your plans and share what you’ve learned.  We can keep each other accountable and hopefully encourage others to take action!

–Corey Lundberg


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