LEARN TO GOLF

(Males 9-11, Females 8-11)

OBJECTIVE

Continue to develop fundamental movement skills and golf fundamental movement skills.

INTRODUCTION

Learn to Golf is the beginning of a critical window to develop fine motor skills. During this phase, players have the best opportunity to learn and master fine motor skills that can be used in combination with other skills (i.e. balance and swinging the club at the same time). In most cases, what is learned and not learned during this stage could have a very significant effect on the level of play that is achieved in the later stages of a player’s development.

KEY CONCEPTS

Develop

  • Putting, chipping, full swing and greenside bunker play

Introduce

  • Pitching, green reading and club selection

TECHNICAL BENCHMARKS

Develop proficiency in fundamental movement
skills such as running, jumping, and throwing.

  • Develop motor and golf specific movement skills.
  • Further develop general athletic abilities.
    • 1) Strength
    • 2) Endurance
    • 3) Flexibility
    • 4) Motor skills and coordination development

WHERE TO PLAY

  • Minimum of 1,000 yards (9 hole course—par-3 layout)
  • Course length for males: 4,500–5,700 yards (18 holes)
  • Course length for females: 3,000–5,000 yards (18 holes)
  • Tee it Forward program

Golf Course Length Reccomendation

COACHING/INSTRUCTION

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:

  • Instructor of Intermediate Golfers
  • Instructor of Beginner Golfers
  • Community Golf Coach

PRACTICE

Practice using a variety of fun activities that begin to incorporate other skills required to play such as strategy and tactics.
Type: Highly randomized (80%) avoiding any long duration of blocked sessions. Practice time may often be with other juniors in activities, games and small competitions.
Duration: 30–60 minutes per session
Volume: 1–5 hours per week of practice
Quality ball strikes should be monitored by the coach/instructor to assess the ability of the child to strike the ball in full concentration with the goal of improving feel, skill and/or score.

COMPETITION

In the later ages of this stage, competition may become more formal and it must be handled appropriately. Competition in the right environment, at the right time and in the right intensity can contribute to the development of the child (keeping in mind that competition is a good servant but a poor master!)

EQUIPMENT

At a minimum, age appropriate junior golf clubs should include a:

  • Putter
  • Wedge
  • 5, 7 and 9 iron
  • Fairway hybrid/wood
  • Driver

GOLF KNOWLEDGE

More Advanced Level of Etiquette: The child demonstrates a more advanced understanding of golf etiquette (i.e. safety keeping score of self and others; raking bunkers; repairing ball marks; where to leave your golf bag).

Although inconsistent, the child is aware of other people and objects when swinging. On-course safety is also introduced (i.e. the child can explain what to do in case of lightning while practicing or playing).

Rules of Golf: The child demonstrates a basic knowledge of the Rules of Golf including examples such as order of play; when a penalty stroke should occur and how to take relief; use of tee markers; and when the flagstick should be removed.

PHYSICAL

Since this stage is an important period for skill learning, exemplary instruction and environments that are both challenging and encouraging are critical. This phase should establish and reinforce basic and sport-specific movement skills.

As a continuation of the fundamentals of movement, a variety of sports, music, dance, gymnastics and other related rhythmic activities can all play an important role.

Use unstructured and structured programming to gradually improve physical capacities in a coordinated fashion with how the player’s body is developing.

Strength and conditioning should build upon the previous stage in a manner that is appropriate to this developmental stage, typically involving games and imaginative circuit training. Activities that involve the player’s own body weight, gymnastic or medicine balls are favoured. Obstacle courses can also be used to great effect.

ADDITIONAL ELEMENTS

This phase will see further development of the elements introduced previously as well as the player’s demonstration of increased understanding of golf fundamentals and physical movement concepts.

PSYCHOLOGICAL

In this phase, players should be introduced to the concept of practicing basic mental skills, including discussion around the idea of managing strategies for focus. Players should also be introduced to the area of performance state when they are at their best. A basic mental skills assessment should be established with the player, discussing the implications of the findings for their game.

Players should practice calming strategies and other concepts such as imagery and self-talk. These concepts may be introduced through a basic pre- and post-shot routine.

Older players in this stage will be able to stay still for longer periods but are still enthusiastic about moving as they learn. These individuals will require specific direction and feedback and will evaluate their performance as a whole in terms that may be black and white (good or bad).

Encourage individuality and continue to help develop awareness. Children in this stage cannot make corrections to their performance skills unless they understand specifically what is being asked of them. Keeping the focus on one simple aspect will be helpful.

Emphasizing actions and efforts over results will provide a motivating climate to learn. Players are more tuned in to the concept of fairness as well so consistency in rules will minimize conflict. Their ability to think long-term is still quite limited so instructors will want to repeatedly and consistently inform the player how their practice has both shortterm and long-term impact.

Developmental age refers to the player’s state of physical, mental, emotional and intellectual maturity. In the Learn To Golf stage, differences between children will become more apparent and therefore training may start to differ.

Mental Training Framework

LEARN TO GOLF TO-DO LIST:

(BALYI, WAY, & HIGGS; 2013)

  • Continue to encourage children to engage in unstructured physical play every day.
  • Repetitive unstructured and imaginative play helps to develop, reinforce, and master skills.
  • Enroll children in youth sport programs each season and have them try different positions or events.
  • Encourage children to take every opportunity to play different sports at school.
  • Children should try a wide range of activities (land-based, water-based, and snow/ice-based), including movement-to-music programs.
  • Keep children involved in activities that continue to develop stamina, strength, speed, skill and suppleness.
  • Keep sport and physical activity fun.
  • Further develop all fundamental movement skills and teach general, overall sport skills.

GREAT DEBATE—EARLY SPECIALIZATION

ISTVAN BALYI, CANADIAN SPORT FOR LIFE, LTPD EXPERT

If you want your child to become a professional golfer, figure skater, or other high performance athlete, when should they specialize in that one sport?

It’s a question that often generates heated discussion among coaches and sport parents. All too often, in most sports, children are pushed to specialize too early.

Too many coaches and parents push them to focus on one sport long before high school in the belief that they will miss out if they don’t. The thinking is that they need to “get ahead of the pack” by putting in the extra hours and staying away from other sports.

Meanwhile, the research suggests that specializing too early probably prevents most kids from reaching their full potential in their sport. They might win the district championships for Grade 8 or Grade 10 basketball, but that will be their peak achievement. They won’t make the cut for the national team and go on to having success in their given sport internationally at age 19.

It seems counterintuitive. How could specialization reduce your success? It’s connected to physical literacy and the need to develop a wide range of physical, mental, and emotional skills within sport. When researchers look at top athletes across a range of sports, the majority of them are distinguished by broad athletic ability from playing a variety of sports as children. This kind of broad athleticism doesn’t happen when kids specialize in one sport from an early age.

(Please note: We haven’t even mentioned the problem of overuse injuries to tendons, ligaments, and bone growth plates due to premature specialization. There’s enough research on that subject to write a book. Premature specialization is also linked to kids dropping out of sports early.) Is early specialization wrong for all sports? No. But research shows very few sports where it helps.

Sports and activities such as gymnastics, figure skating, diving, and dancing generally require early specialization. To reach the highest levels of competition, your child needs to start young and spend most of their time practicing that sport or activity.

However, sports such as golf, hockey, soccer, basketball, baseball, and tennis are late specialization sports. If you want your child to have a chance to go to the highest levels in these sports, the evidence suggests they should also play other sports until at least age 14. This is called sampling or early diversification.

When you feel the urge to make your child specialize early, remember that Steve Nash didn’t even start playing basketball until he was 13-years old. Wayne Gretzky started hockey young, but he also played baseball, lacrosse and tennis into his teens.

KEY STAKEHOLDERS

The groups below outline the key stakeholders 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:

Schools

Municipalities

Parents

  • Encourage children to participate in all sports.
  • Other sports that build fundamental movement skills that apply to golf.
    • Gymnastics
    • Swimming

Golf Facilities

Golf Associations

  • 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.

Coaches/Instructors