In a world dominated by technology, computers, social media and YouTube, now more than ever it is paramount to encourage children to be outside and active. Whenever parents encourage children to play a sport, whether it be throwing a baseball, shooting a basketball, playing football, it can be difficult to pry them away from gadgets. Getting children to play golf is different, due to the complexity and difficulty of the game, coupled with a society that expects everything instantly; it is a tough job to try to teach patience.
Researchers found that 98% of new golfers come from families who have golfers in them, suggesting that, if you have no one in the family or close circle of friends who plays golf, the likelihood is, neither will you. This is a staggering statistic, and may be one of the contributing factors that have caused a decline in golf in recent years. Ways of attracting new golfers are being promoted through golf initiatives from the sport governing bodies.
Therefore, when introducing a child to golf, parents must be prepared to learn with them and to make sure that they learn in as fun a way as possible. It is very easy to make golf complicated. The complexity of the game is daunting for anyone, let alone a young child.
Many articles in golf are about technical advice that can help the player, though very little is covered on who trains them. Through scientific research and discovery, aspects believed to contribute towards being a great coach are listed below:
Characteristics of a Coach
- Expansive technical knowledge
- Pedagogical of a Teacher – knows how to teach children
- Counseling wisdom of a Psychologist – a good listener and advisor
- Training expertise of a Physiologist
- Ability to plan development in line with tournaments.
The older a child becomes, the coach’s role grows in importance. They educate the player on the sport and have a direct influence on their enjoyment. Therefore, finding the right coach who has not only the technical knowledge, but also the understanding and passion to help nurture skill, is crucial. A great coach educates players, allowing them not to be reliant. As golf is an individual sport, to be self-reliant is a necessity.
So to give your junior golfer the best start in golf, make use of the technology and find a good, well-respected coach. You may have to travel a little further, but make a day of it and in the end, you and your child will be far happier.
That coach should have an understanding of training motor and cognitive skills. These can produce faster improvements, leading to higher levels of competence with complex skills. This is something that elite athletes in a multitude of sports are very good at. Sometimes a golf lesson may not include anything that may resemble golf. It could be spent developing key skills.
A child’s development during their younger years are crucial. Initial play should be fun and enjoyable, this can lead towards a lifetime of sports participation.
To develop skills that are required within golf, playing other games or simply playing can be beneficial. An example of this can be simply throwing a ball, as it can help to install good awareness and motor and cognitive ability, it can lead to becoming more dynamic, stronger, improving hand eye coordination and understanding of how weight shifts in a movement to create power (which is pertinent to most movements in any sport).
To throw a ball as far as we can, there must be basic sequencing. Often referred to as Kinematic Sequencing, it is the order of how the body moves that creates the greatest amount of power.
Below is the correct sequencing for throwing a ball and also hitting a golf ball.
- Lower body (pressure shift in the feet)
- Upper body
- Ball Release (Club)
Another simple task to encourage a junior athlete is to encourage them to walk along a line. It is simple and can improve balance. Balancing teaches children about their Centre of Gravity (COG) without actually going into detail. Balance is something that is apparent in every single sport.
Starting these learning skills early allows your child to develop quicker. This may give them a head start over other children of the same age who aren’t as active.
At the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, they specialize in developing the cognitive skills and fine motor skills. Through world-class instruction and a program specifically designed to encourage long term development and enjoyment, it is no wonder the Academy is the destination of choice for many top athletes.
So when it comes to your child and their progress into sports, research good coaches. Support your child, allow them to make their own decisions and make it fun.
For more information on IMG Academy’s golf program, click here.