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By stuwarren, Jan 20 2021 12:56PM

Are we ensuring feedback is positive and helping the young player deal positively with adverse results that golf often throws up? (new paragraph)Here are two great ideas to help you that your children will be very familiar from their classroom.


WWW and EBI

These stand for WHAT WENT WELL and EVEN BETTER IF. These are two questions that you and the young player should ask themselves after every shot. Even on poor shots we can identify some aspect that went well. For example, if you topped it 20 yards down the fairway instead of nailing it 100 yards onto the green. Then your WWW could be, “I visualised the shot well, chose the correct club and it went straight.” Your EBI would be, “I need to get more depth on the strike and so I will try to graze the grass more on my practice swing”.


3 Before Me

This is a brilliant way to develop game awareness in our young players, creating intelligent and imaginative golfers. If the player’s ball is in a perfect position, such as the centre of the fairway, the player has to suggest 3 different options before they confirm their choice to you. This could be strike a 7 iron directly at the flag over the bunker, play a hybrid long left of the green into the safe zone or lay up short with a 9 iron to set up an easy pitch.


The act of assessing the situation, imagining different scenarios and then choosing their strongest option is an advanced skill lacking in most adults as well as kids, and will bring ultimate ownership of the their game as they progress.




By stuwarren, Jan 17 2021 02:19PM

I only coach young players individually if they regularly attend a group session as well. I am very clear with parents who only want their son or daughter to have lessons on a 1 to 1 basis, that their learning, development and longevity in the game will be seriously disrupted. This is especially true of younger juniors from 5-12 years. There is a very clear reason for this.


A group dynamic is THE most important element in developing young learners.

A group offers team, pairs and individual challenges promoting teamwork, friendship, socialization and leadership qualities. It also creates an environment of peer learning. Young players will feed off each other and actively learn and reinforce concepts and techniques by watching others and helping others. The group has ultimate input into my sessions and often improve and develop the games we play, whilst setting targets that stretch and challenge them.


Most importantly, groups are fun. With an energy and enthusiasm that resonates with every young player, they provide the ongoing motivation to be a junior golfer. It creates a culture of its own, where young players feel welcome, are free to explore the game, confident to stand out in the group, courageous to make mistakes and always adding positivity to the group.


Often seen by many golfers as the lesser relation in terms of coaching, group sessions are actually far more important and far more effective for long term development than individual lessons. Most top athletes developed their skills amongst other likeminded peers. You cant reach your potential stuck in a vacuum!


By stuwarren, Jan 16 2021 12:41PM

Each session revolves around one or two of our 5 shot themes with circuit style or multi level games to complete. These encompass team games, individual challenges and improved technique to raise success. All sessions have clear outcomes, are differentiated for ability and with players are responsible for their own scores. Most of the session is played in pairs but there is always an individual challenge where players must hit a shot in front of the whole group! This is clearly a scary prospect for most, but one which builds bravery, resilience and confidence.


Each session mixes a huge amount of skills from others sports, which young players are more familiar with, to help understanding of concepts relevant to golf. For example, we may perform standing jumps with half twist, to understand the feeling of thrusting a drive. Kicking a football 20 yards over a target, enables players to understand angle of attack, alignment and ball position. Underarm throwing of tennis balls can provide useful access to pitching and short game shots.


Parents should always try to have: Tennis balls, frisbee, football, cones, stopwatch (to record airtime of the ball).


We want to see golf as another movement in our young players’ athletic profile. We are building an athlete first and golfer second. Therefore, viewing the golf swing from an athletic point of view, rather than a golf specific technical point of view, is a good idea. The best players in the world, specialised later on and were fantastic athletes in many disciplines first.


By stuwarren, Jan 13 2021 11:50AM

It’s often difficult to identify a good junior coach in your local area. Is it a coach who has gained attention for a star pupil hitting the big time? Is it a coach with all the latest in technology? Is it the coach who posts a full group class picture in July?


As a PGA Professional who spends most of his life in primary schools delivering a combination of golf and maths, and who has spent over 7 years leading classes in mainstream secondary education, I guess I’m uniquely placed to offer you advice.


Here are my top 3 signs that your coach is doing a great job:


Games Based Learning

The sessions are delivered through fun and engaging games differentiated for ability. The sessions will be based a single shot theme with multi level or circuit style games, enabling young players to discover, explore and develop. Ideally they will pairs games to develop team dynamics but also offer individual challenges to stretch the player out of their comfort zone. Coaches delivering a games session, rather than a ball hitting session, are surrounded by enthusiasm, laughter, encouragement and fun.


Communication

Sessions are organised and have clear consistent messaging. The coach can split the group into mini groups based on ability and deliver tailored coaching to each with progression visible throughout the session. The young players have lots of input into the games. My young players choose 3 outcomes for every game easy, medium and challenging. This really gives them ownership over their game and makes them equally responsible for their success.


No One Left Behind

Retention rates really highlight the quality of the coach. As we know, participation rates surge at various times during the year for different sports. The spring term with lighter nights and milder weather sees plenty kids and parents come out of hibernation and take up golf, tennis and football. Its not difficult to get full group classes from April through to August. A great coach will have high retention rates all year round and will be as busy on a cold wet weekend in January as they are in June. If the coach has sessions running throughout the year, this is a great sign and shows great commitment.

Coaches often gain credibility for having a stand out pupil who wins events at club or county level. However, a better measure of a coaches quality would be to look at how the weakest or least able players progress. Do they instil confidence, belief and courage in the player to keep going? Are these players having fun, fully joining in and having equal opportunity to succeed?

I’m proud of my Academy for its high retention rates of players from non-golf parents. Why does this matter? These young players have no previous experience of golf, its customs or terminology. They come with a complete blank canvas perspective, as do their parents, and see the sport through a different lens. This may be their 2nd or 3rd choice sport and might be one of 6 or 7 activities they do out of school. This means that you have to truly build their golfing universe from scratch, keep it fun and engaging whilst competing with other activities that they might want to try. Coaches, who have a high retention rate of young players from non-golf backgrounds, are really doing a great job.

By stuwarren, Jan 11 2021 08:47AM

The Right Golf Course


Lets be honest, the golf course is a difficult, inconsistent and random environment. It doesn’t follow a universal, logical pattern. It has vastly different lengths holes loosely catagorized in to pars 3, 4 and 5. It has slopes, blind shots, bends, penalty areas, bunkers and huge trees. It is unforgiving for adults… now think about the kids!


We have to match the length of course to the ability of child. As the child grows, becomes stronger and hits longer, so does the course. Its not ok to just send them off the red tees whilst thinking that giving them 20% less distance is a good deal. There’s a reason you should hit a par 4 in 2 shots. It’s because it’s within your physical capabilities to do so. The reason you don’t isn’t because you aren’t strong enough, it’s because you are not good enough. This is discrimination on the basis of ability not capability, which is the essence of sport. Now imagine your 9, 10, 11 or 12 year son or daughter hitting the ball into a blank field for 5 or 6 shots... with no immediate target! If your 9 year old hits their best two shots on a par 4, they should be pin high.


The best example of course fitting is the system developed by US Kids. Based on the young players driver distance they have set formulated distances for par 3s, 4s and 5s, ensuring that every course is accessible, fair and fun for every junior. As the driver distance increases, so does the course they play on.


The 100 Club


New for 2021, the 100 Club allows our young golfers to play 9 holes at Bannatyne Humberston on a golf course perfectly suited to their strength. With holes ranging from 59 yard to 179 yards, this brings the course and its challenges to life in an exciting and friendly way. Greens become a viable target and par is possible based on skill and ability, not strength and capability. The shorter course enables faster, more family friendly rounds and should encourage Mum and Dad to join in the fun! Most importantly though, it acts as the perfect gateway for juniors to progress to the full course and prolongs the “Fall Away Point” significantly.


Let’s be honest, I will also be using the 100 Club course heavily this year, as I know the absolute key to scoring is from these distances!



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