(Males 6-9, Females 6-8)
Learn fundamental movement skills and build overall motor skills.
Fundamentals should focus on the development of physical literacy. The fundamental movement skills introduced in Active Start should continue to be developed and build towards the development of motor skills. The child’s participation in many different sports and activities should be encouraged. Fun activities can also be introduced at this stage in a team environment. The introduction of golf specific skills will occur during this stage.
- Full swing
- Greenside bunker
- Continue to develop physical capacities, fundamental movement skills and the ABC’s of athleticism: Agility, Balance, Coordination and speed.
- Be introduced to movement exercises that focus on mobility, flexion, extension, side bend and multi-segmental rotation.
- Be introduced to the basic elements and terms used for golf equipment including: club face, heel of club, toe of club, shaft and grip.
WHERE TO PLAY
- 9 hole courses
- Tee it Forward program
- Executive par-3 courses
- Practice ranges
- Mini putt courses
All instructors and coaches undergo PGA of Canada training that is entirely specific to the type of player or athlete they wish to work with. The recommended level for this stage is listed below:
- Community Golf Coach
- Instructor of Beginner Golfers
- A benchmark for practice is not required at this stage—volume and frequency should be at the discretion of the child.
- Encourage enjoyment above all else.
- Reinforce competition against your own skills.
- Fun activities in a team environment.
At a minimum, age appropriate junior golf clubs should include a:
- Fairway iron
- Fairway hybrid
- Etiquette (i.e. being quiet when someone is hitting, where is a safe place to stand during play)
- 11 Golden Rules of Golf Safety
- Be able to name different parts of the golf course such as tee, green, fairway, bunker and rough
- Be introduced to the basic concept of recording score and the order of play
This stage will begin to show the development of general movement and athletic skills (physical literacy) of children. This will also include general athleticism and the development of the central nervous system, meaning the influence and activity of all parts of the body. In combination, this stage is a critical foundation period where unstructured physical activity and play are crucial. These aspects are then combined with exposure to more organized and structured physical activities that are immersed in environments that promote fun and individual improvement.
Fundamental movement skills such as skipping, jumping, spinning, rolling, punching, kicking, striking, sprinting and throwing are the focus at this age. Relating how each sport skill has common characteristics to their golf game will likely increase skill transfer.
Agility, Balance, Coordination and speed (ABCs) of athleticism and games:
- Obstacle courses
- Introduction to strength (own bodyweight)
- Rhythm activities, music and dance
- Introductory golf programs (i.e. Future Links Learn to Play; Take a Kid to the Course Week)
In this stage, children should begin to pay attention to the things they are doing that work well for them (this will serve as the foundation for performance state, and also pre and post-shot routines). Basic energizing and calming skills should be introduced and this is a great time to start talking about a process-focus and basic reflective process.
Children also benefit from talking about the negative affect and strategies to help manage it. Children are motivated to have fun with their friends. They cannot listen or stay still for long periods and are enthusiastic to move. They will require specific direction and feedback as opposed to trial and error. As a result, learning will come from a combination of visual, verbal and hands-on means using creative methods.
The beginning of self-awareness is an important component that will provide children with tools moving forward. Keep in mind that they cannot make corrections to their performance skills unless they understand specifically what is being asked of them. Maintaining the focus on one simple aspect will be helpful.
Emphasizing actions and efforts over results will provide a motivating climate to learn. They are more tuned in to the concept of fairness as well.
Children at this age also enjoy using big words as their language skills improve. Have fun being creative with words to describe physical sport specific skills. Prepare your explanations to be brief and precise. Try to give specific instructions for example, “relax just like jelly belly” instead of “relax”. This will help them connect to the exercises for more value.
This phase will see the introduction of elements such as warm up and cool down, objectives (goal setting) and how to live a healthy, active lifestyle.
(BALYI, WAY, & HIGGS; 2013)
- Keep it fun.
- Ensure participation in many sports and activities to ensure strong development.
- If possible, enroll children in programs that offer a wide variety of activities.
- Have children practice fundamental movement skills before introducing sport-specific skills.
- Emphasize ABCs development.
- Use games to develop strength, endurance and flexibility.
- Develop strength through body weight exercises and activities.
- Introduce the basic rules and ethics of sports.
- Ensure that club weight, length, grip, shaft and club head are appropriate for children.
- Don’t be concerned with the score; focus on learning and having fun.
- Don’t get caught in the specialization trap—developing all-around players at this age is far better.
GREAT DEBATE—WHAT IS MY ROLE AS A PARENT?
JEFF THOMPSON, CHIEF SPORT OFFICER, GOLF CANADA
This is one of the most frequently discussed and most delicate aspects of a young golfer’s development. The parent’s role is super important as an integral part of the overall performance team. I have to emphasize that last part: as an integral part of the overall performance team.
All too often, we see incidents where the parent’s perspective or involvement, often inadvertently, becomes unhealthy and actually counter-productive to the young player’s development. We, as a sport, may be somewhat to blame for this, simply because of the unique nature of golf. In other sports, the child is taken to a practice or a game or a tournament where the coach is always present. In golf, the child is taken for a lesson or practice session, but seldom is their coach present when they are in a competition, particularly in the early stages of their development. This is not an invitation for parents to step in as pseudo-coaches; rather, it is an opportunity for the young golfer to develop decision-making skills and a sense of independence.
My best advice for parents who may be on the verge of becoming overly involved is to take a step back and ask themselves what is best for their child. That is the best indicator, in my opinion.
A couple of years ago, we produced a publication called The Role of Parents and Coaches.
In it, we summarized the following vital contributions of a parent/guardian to the healthy development of young golfers. To provide each child with unconditional love regardless of their golf performance; to provide appropriate food, clothing, and shelter to the best of your ability; to communicate with coaches and golf officials as necessary; to have a discussion with the child to find out exactly how they want you to act as a golf parent; to interact with each child as a human being, not a golfer; to support and encourage coaches, local PGA of Canada professionals, personal coaches and golf officials.
In general, your role as a parent is to love, support and reward your child. Don’t judge, don’t coach, don’t live vicariously through your child. Golf is tough enough already!
The groups below outline the key stakeholders that are associated with this stage and what is needed from each to succeed. The help and support from the following stakeholders is vital for complete development:
- Focus on incorporating golf into physical education curriculum.
- Golf in Schools program
- Creating links from schools to golf facilities.
- Future Links Field Trip program
- Community centres to deliver LTPD compliant junior programming.
- Golf facilities owned by the municipality should be leaders in junior golf.
- Encourage children to participate in all sports.
- Other sports that build fundamental movement skills that apply to golf.
- Providing access to juniors.
- Offering LTPD compliant junior programming.
- Golf Canada to deliver LTPD content and continue to lead research efforts.
- PGA of Canada to promote the LTPD Guide to its membership base.
- Provincial Golf Associations to support distribution and execution of the LTPD Guide.
- National Golf Course Owners Association to be aware of LTPD and promote to its membership base.
- Maximize the use of the LTPD Guide to create well developed children.
- Complete PGA of Canada Instructor of Beginner Golfers.
- Complete Community Golf Coach training.