When I think of Junior Golf, I think of the future. What things can I do to ensure that they learn to love the game and play it for a lifetime? Surely, if they are interested in competing, I am happy to help them down that road as well. I think we can all agree that one of the boundaries to the game is its difficulty. There are many things being written about making golf fun and helping juniors build golf skills but this post will be for the slightly older junior that has made a choice to spend extra time on this sport.
As always, this is just my opinion and part of my observation as a coach of juniors and as a coach of a 3 time NJCAA National Championship squad. I think as golfers, we can agree that the individuals playing the game will tend to notice things they are good at and things that need more work. How many times as a coach have you had a junior student come to you and say, “I really need help with my (“X”) but not on (“Y”) cause I do that pretty well. Sometimes they have made a correct assessment and sometimes they haven’t. Part of our job as the coach is to help them determine what skills are appropriate for that particular scoring level or the scoring level they are striving for. This is one place that I think Shot by Shot can really help. Shot by Shot is an analysis program that will help the junior golfer and the coach direct the practice.
Many times, I will watch junior golfers practice and they will be practicing the one thing they do really well. It could be anything from their short game to the their driving. While this makes for great fun while practicing, how much is it improving their skill set. Golf is a game which requires skills that need to be called upon one at a time from a vast array of possibilities. This requires the student to be proficient in many things so they can call upon them when needed. Some skills are used much more often than others but the lesser used skills need to be practiced as well.
I constantly remind my junior golfers to practice their weaknesses and maintain their strengths. I think the meaning of this statement is quite clear. I hear them say too often that, “I practiced my putting so much that my I lost my wedge play.” I think it’s important for them to know that they can’t ignore the skills they do well. I recommend that they use a rotating practice schedule that has a majority of the time focused on those skills that need a little work but never ignores the skills they are doing well. Don’t forget to cover all the bases from the fitness levels to the mental game.
Is this schedule organic? You bet it is. We are constantly upgrading it to reflect current conditions and measuring those skills to help define the plan. Can it be done without a measuring program? Of course it can but I think my junior golfers like to see the charts and graphs that Shot by Shot provides. Plus it gives me a chance to see if what I am seeing as a weakness is actually hurting their game. Many times I have had a belief of a weakness that, for what ever reason, didn’t seem to appear during their practice or competitive rounds. As coaches, we need to be aware that the practice ground and the field of play are very different animals and need to be treated as such.
I encourage you to chat with your junior golfers about their game as often as you can. Provide them a schedule to follow that touches on all parts of their game but focuses on the skills that need the most time.
Imagine the chain in the above picture as your players set of skills. If you put the pressure of a tournament round on that chain, I think we can all agree where the chain might break.
The goal is to create a chain of skills of equal strength.
Please pass this on to your junior golfer via Facebook by clicking on the share button or email if you think they find some value in this post.
Thanks for reading.