The golf industry witnessed an extra 10-million people play golf in 2020. When we break it down, this increase means more families are on golf courses than ever before. Moms and dads are playing more frequently, and PGA Coaches throughout the country are being asked to instruct and mentor junior golfers at record rates.
The weeks the PGA of America hosts the Junior PGA Championships, we tend to skew our perspective toward the elite players, but the reality is they are just a small fraction of the junior golf population. Although the young men competing this week have fabulous games, they all started playing just the same as everyone else.
As parents experience getting their child(ren) involved in golf, it’s important to understand what specific abilities really get kids started on the right track. Golf has a multitude of different skills that need to be taught over time.
For the simple purpose of getting started or getting better, PGA Coaches believe the two most important building blocks are speed and contact.
Players need to learn how to swing the club and generate speed. The sooner we teach speed in a player’s development, the quicker they become accustomed to the feeling of balance and the collision at impact.
Once a junior player understands and can repeat their fundamentals: grip, stance, and alignment, it’s time to start swinging. If they are beginners, start with an oversized bat and a tennis ball off of a rubber tee. Allow the kids to feel the strike and see if they can swing with balance and fluidity. These shouldn’t be calculated swings, no checklists involved, just swing, and hit the ball. Hit it hard. Make sure the players stay in balance but overall let them go after it.
Create a contest like a homerun derby. Make it fun, play a game. Golf can become a confining contest very quickly. PGA Coaches teach kids to swing away.
There are specific principles involved, but at the very least get the kids swinging to “hit” the ball.
If you have a junior golfer who already possesses a decent amount of golf ability encourage them to swing away as well. They may be able to start with their clubs. In either case, it’s important to understand the ADM methodology here. Get kids making athletic movements instead of calculating mechanics. Encouraging freedom of motion is an extremely valuable lesson during this period of development. It will reduce fear and place less emphasis on the result and more importance on the physical coordination of golf movement.
The impact this lesson will have going forward will tremendously open their mind to thinking in terms of swinging and hitting rather than guiding the ball. Golf can be intimidating to an adult, imagine how a child looks at its complexity.
Next time you bring your kid(s) to the practice range encourage more swinging and less mechanical suggestions. If you do, the results will not only be fun, but far less overwhelming and increasingly successful in the long run.
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