Kids are amazing. Their ability to learn new activities is really only limited to their interest level. If they’re having fun doing something new, they will continue to pursue the learning process. As soon as it becomes a chore they become “at risk” to put down the activity and pursue something else.
The good news is that the game of golf and the golf course offer endless opportunities to grab their interest. Lakes, trees, ducks, golf carts, range carts and flying golf balls are all pretty cool things to youth golfers. We now even have cool clothes worn by cool cats (Rickie Fowler anyone?) to grab their attention.
The bad news is that the game of golf is full of opportunities for adults to tell kids what they did wrong or what they should do differently next time. “You didn’t keep your head down; you didn’t keep your arm straight; don’t try to hit it so hard, bend your knees,” etc.
With a 10 year old at home, I’ve watched a lot of flag football, little league baseball and pee wee football. Since the kids are in the early stages of developing their skills, there are plenty of mistakes and poor performance, which, like golf, could lead to plenty of technical coaching. Imagine if every time a kid made a bad throw in baseball, the adults jumped in with “you stepped wrong; your hand position was wrong; your trunk rotation was too fast;” etc.
Instead, you mostly hear words of encouragement such as “Shake it off; you’ll get them next time; good try; nice swing.”. This is the language we need to speak to youth golfers who are just starting out. Let’s nurture their love for the game with encouragement and support before we extinguish it by bombarding them with negative feedback and technical instruction.