8: Golfers who are visually impaired or blind

Key Considerations for coaching golfers with disability

8: Golfers who are visually impaired or blind

Paul O’Rahilly (Northern Ireland) – Blind Golf (NIBGA) – Visually impaired player

When coaching people with visual impairments, remember the following:

  • Use the person’s name to gain attention.
  • Engage a family member or friend to help within the initial coaching sessions.
  • Research and request when the player lost their sight – congenitally (birth) or otherwise – as this will hugely influence how you will be required to deliver your explanations of the game, environments, equipment and technique – imagine you had never seen a golf club before – how would you explain this?
  • Explain and let the player physically explore the equipment – golf ball, tee, club components, surface they are playing from including different grasses. Lesson 1: May simply involve getting the student to familiarise themselves with the environment and equipment – plan longer or more frequented sessions as coaching golf to blind and visually impaired participants will require more time.
  • If you just perform the exercise and ask the golfer to do it, they will struggle or fail because they cannot observe your demonstration of the movement. Remember, blind golfers see with their ears and their hands.
  • Literally tell your student to come feel/touch your golf position, shoulders, back, hands, arms, legs, and feet. This is how a blind golfer will conceptualise and visualise what it is you are coaching them to do, so they can then recreate the same exercise/positioning for themselves.
  • Ask the player to ‘feel’ the motions of the golf swing through their feet and hands – and provide feedback on this sensation to you.
  • Ask the player to provide feedback on the pressure movement between the lead and trail leg and the changes in pressure at set-up – impact and end position or finish of the swing.
  • Ask the player to identify speed changes in the swing and how these sound?
  • Ask the player to provide feedback on where the club is making contact with the ground – support this with verbal confirmation and feedback.
  • The pressure applied to the handle does that vary within the swing? Does the player feel changes in their active grip pressure during different motions of the swing for example in the set-up, the backswing, forwardswing or finish position?
  • Use your voice for directional orientation and step out distances with the player to identify distance control.
Communication between a visually impaired player and coach generating direction and distance feedback
  • Get the player to roll a ball by hand different distances and provide feedback on the outcome.
  • Give continual verbal feedback – describing the shot, direction, distance, elevation – request feedback from the golfer – which part of the clubface did they make contact with, do they have an indication from the feedback on sound, direction or distance?
  • Reference external focus – what the clubhead is doing – what interaction they have had with the handle or the ground for example.
  • Use clear, accurate verbal instructions and check for understanding again prioritising regular feedback.
  • Make sure the participant knows when you have finished and are moving away from them.
  • Make sure the area in which you are working is kept free of obstacles, background noise and clutter.
  • Supply any written information, if necessary, in a suitable format such as audio recording, large print or braille copy.
  • Agree a method of communication (specific words or gestures) that works for you and the person with the visual impairment, and continually review this rapport as necessary.
  • The video below shows the communication between player and guide in generating essential feedback that the player can conceptualise his environment.
Visually impaired player working with his guide, Zwartkops CC, (South Africa)

Please contact the EDGA development and coach education team if you would like to find out more about coaching golfers with disability.

Review our coach educational materials at; https://edgagolf.com/dev/index.php/edga-golf-development-coach-education/

*This material remains the intellectual property of the EDGA development team and may not be distributed or used further without written consent from the EDGA development team.