Youth golf has so many benefits for the entire family. It is one of the few athletic activities where multiple generations can play together and enjoy family time outdoors in beautifully manicured surroundings. Through golf we teach the very young athletes motor skills, concentration, patience and other life skills. As they get older they learn about integrity, honesty and sportsmanship through recreational and competitive golf. Even as they grow into young adults, golf continues to serve them as a way to network, exercise and relieve stress.
Having worked in youth golf for the past nine years and in my newest role as the Player Development Supervisor for Lincoln City Golf & Ager Golf Course, I get daily questions from parents and guardians on how to coach their kids in golf. Below I have a few tips I often share:
Golf improvement, especially for juniors, does not follow a straight path. With practice there will be an upward trend but that path will be riddled with lows and plateaus. Even the top tour pros follow this pattern. Focus on long-term development, not instant success. Encourage problem-solving and resiliency as these are traits we want in our children and are shared by top athletes.
The differences physically, developmentally and mentally between youth make comparing kids based on age impossible in golf. Allow them to compete with themselves by improving scores, shots and stats.
Beware the Growth Spurts
They have more impact on the golf swing than you could ever imagine. Changes in body proportions drastically affect coordination, timing and the like. It's inevitable. They will get control of their swings again!
They Are the Boss
How we learn in school is not properly suited for the golf course. They will despise practice if it becomes a lecture. Allow them to practice how or where they want while you explain the areas of the game or swing they are curious about. Kids are amazingly reactive are toward fixing an area of their game and we want to support them in this.
Keep It Fun
Praise them after a good shot and laugh with them when a ball splashes in the water, stays in the bunker or rings around the hole. Having fun makes them want to practice and play more. For practice use golf games or near-golf games which mimic proper motor skills and encourage youth to become reactive instead of repetitive.
The City of Lincoln Golf Courses have PGA pros who are experts in youth instruction, club fitting and coaching. Want to get your young athlete in a camp, league or private instruction? Programs at Ager Golf Course feature fun, interactive and youth-specific coaching to encourage long-term athlete development. Learn more at LincolnCityGolf.org or stop by Ager Golf Course.