Getting your kids started in golf will be one of the greatest gifts you ever give them.
However, when you take them to the range or the course, think carefully about what you are saying to them.
Consider this; imagine you are in the final year of school and sitting your written exams. At the side of the room your parents are shouting things like “don’t forget to write neatly’, ‘make sure you check your spelling’, ‘take your time’, ‘read the question properly’, ‘don’t forget this, or that.’
How stressful would that be if it actually happened?
This is not too far removed from what I see happening on the range and golf courses when a well-intentioned parent gets too involved with their child’s learning process.
I see children stepping up to hit a ball but before they are allowed to have a go, they are filled with lots of information about how to stand and how to hold the club.
Then comes the swing advice (the worst one ever is ‘keep your head down!’)
A missed shot is then followed by more advice. Before too long the parent is frustrated because the child is not doing all the things she has been told and the child is even more frustrated because they are not being allowed to just play.
“Play” is the operative word.
We all learn best when we are playing.
“Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury; play is a necessity.”
– Kay Redfield Jamison
This does not mean you should leave them to aimlessly hit balls but instead set them playful challenges.
Here are a few suggestions:
To encourage a good aim of the clubhead and understanding of why the ball goes off in certain directions, have your child draw a face on the club using a white board marker.
The ball will go where the eyes of the clubface are looking when the ball is struck.
👍 Ask your child what feature of the clubface they think they should strike the ball from to hit good shots. Let them explore ways they can change where the eyes are looking and let them try to hit different features of the face. e.g. The nose, the chin, the ears etc.
⛔️ Avoid negative feedback
✅ Allow your child to explore and experiment with different ways of doing it.
But what if I my child misses the ball, what should I say then?
The answer is…. nothing!
Just let them have another go, they don’t need to be told they have missed it, they know. In nearly every case a child left to ‘figure it out’ will hit the ball within three attempts without any intervention. Those misses are part of the brain learning and this process should not be interfered with.
Task based learning
Coming up with a challenge for your child is a brilliant way for them to learn to play and have fun.
On the range at Dunes we leave objects like tyres, pallets and cones that are close enough to the bays that even the youngest children can reach them. The desire to perform the task will lead to shifts in technique without it being a complex and difficult experience.
Our junior coaching programmes at Dunes very much stand by this philosophy so that learning is safe, fun and playful.