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Why isn’t my child getting any better at golf?

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As a junior golf coach, I am regularly approached by parents who would like to discuss their child’s performance. They want to know why isn’t their child doing as well as they were in previous weeks or months, or why they haven’t advanced to the higher-skill group.

I always welcome these questions, because they give me an extra chance to educate parents on the goals of our junior golf development program. But unfortunately, some parents are not as understanding as they should be, or don’t have access to the right information. For that reason, unreasonable expectations are a big problem in junior golf.

I get it. As a parent, you want to see your child do as well and hit as many good shots as possible. It makes you proud, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s human nature that you want to see your child succeed. I wrote this article to help explain why your child can often struggle, and why long-term development supersedes instant success in junior golf.

Success does not follow a straight-line pattern

If you speak to any successful athlete, you will find that they likely experienced just as many lows in their career as highs. The important thing about their development, however, was that there was a general trend upward, despite the lows.

Success (1)

when I hear, “come on Johnny, you were doing better  last week,” I cringe. if you want your child to drop out of golf, then carry on.

For both parents and children, it’s easy to become obsessed with instant success, instead of thinking about long-term development. I guarantee that every child will at some stage go through a period of difficulty with their golf, as the top pros do. To aid long-term development, do not demotivate your child by highlighting their struggles. Instead encourage the child to be resilient and problem solve through this period. These are traits that top athletes have, and encouraging these traits in young children will not only help their golf, but also their development as people.

Growth spurts

Growth spurts are unavoidable. All children go through them, and these changes in body proportions drastically affect the coordination abilities of a child.

Body proportions (2)

  • At age 2, a child’s legs make up 2/5 of their body. By age 7, their legs are now 1/2 of their body.
  • At age 7, a child’s arms are 2.75/6 of their body, but by age 14 their arms are 3/7 of their body.

Imagine if I added 3 inches to your arms and asked you to swing a golf club. Your swing would be all over the place. Of course, a child’s arms do not lengthen 3 inches overnight, but the growth process affects coordination and movement skills. Furthermore, when bones grow quicker than muscles, subsequently stretching and stressing the tissue, a child’s abilities can also be affected.

Don’t make growth spurts harder on children than they already are by expecting them to maintain the same level of performance they had before their growth spurt. It won’t be long before your child is feeling confident in his or her body again.

Performance Plateaus

With anything in life, there becomes a time when performance plateaus and the journey to the next level may not be as quick as the previous journey. For example, reducing your handicap from 28 to 20 may have been reasonably easy, but the lower your handicap got the harder it was to reduce it, right? For a child, a common plateau occurs when they cannot hit the ball any farther. And in most cases, we need to wait for a child to get stronger before worrying about more distance.

Like periods of growth spurts, there will also be long periods of no growth, where a child’s strength may not increase for a period of months. So, if your child is struggling with gaining distance, do not get over concerned and let their bodies grow. To me, this is another great example of times when development supersedes instant success. While there may be no instant successes of hitting the ball farther, other valuable sport and life skills can be developed during this time, such as work ethic, team work, goal setting and important social skills, to name a few.

In our FUEL Junior Golf Programme, we are passionate about creating well rounded individuals who are physically active and love the game of golf, hence our motto #personathletegolfer.

Relative age affect

In short, relative age effect discusses the chronological age (how many years old the child is) and the biological age (actually how old/developed their body is).

Let’s say an 8-year-old named Billy and an 8-year-old named Johnny play against each other. Johnny might hit it 30 yards past Billy off the tee, but Billy’s relative age is only 6. Chances are, Billy won’t be 30 yards behind Johnny for long.

Cognitive development versus motor development

In layman’s terms, research has shown that a child’s movement skills are heavily related to their ability to process information. For that reason, it’s common that young children can sometimes not grasp new movements, despite all our efforts to help.

Childs Brain (3)

In this case, we have to allow time for a child’s mental abilities to improve before expecting any changes in movement. Moreover, a young child is often more interested in looking at the clouds than listening to your swing tips. So quit the advice and let them play, fail and learn.

When was the last time a top athlete thanked their parents for their coaching? That rarely happens, but they almost always thank their parents for their support.

Summary

As parents and coaches, we must understand that the development of a child is a highly diverse process and crucially, it is not always about golf. Sport is a great tool to help children develop in a variety of ways, and it is important not to judge them on only their sporting skill. So the next time you’re frustrated with the development of your junior golfer, remember all the reasons they could be struggling.

  • Success does not follow a straight-line pattern.
  • A child has no control over growth spurts, which can dramatically hinder their performance.
  • Performance plateaus again cannot be avoided in some areas of the game. Remember, there’s isn’t one world-class athlete who hasn’t hit a performance plateau. What’s the worry?
  • A 6-year-old can hardly add 12 and 15 together, so it makes sense that they won’t always understand the leg, knee and arm positions of the golf swing.
  • Developing your child into a well-rounded, respectful and mannered individual is most important.
  • Remember that as parents, you are there to support… not coach.

On a final note, if you want your child to become the best golfer in the world (and they better share that goal), understand that you have 20+ years to achieve it. Believe me, there is little value in being the best 10-year-old golfer in the world.

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Thomas is an Advanced UKPGA Professional and Director of the Future Elite (FUEL) Junior Golf Programme. Thomas is a big believer in evidence based coaching and has enjoyed numerous worldwide coaching experiences. His main aim to introduce and help more golfers enjoy the game, by creating unique environments that best facilitate improvement.

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. James G

    Nov 14, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Kids will improve at their own pace and interest level. Main thing is to make sure it is fun for them even if they are playing horribly. The little league overbearing parents we’ve all seen exist in golf too and it actually hurts a kid’s development. Finally, no matter how badly a parent may want their child to be good in a sport some kids just have little or no athletic ability and that’s ok. Some kids are musically talented and others aren’t as another example. Be encouraging, get good instruction and let them have fun. Make games out of it. Maybe bet the kid pizza against chores.

  2. Harry White

    Nov 12, 2016 at 1:57 am

    Juniors or adults of any age can improve steadily with a totally different way of teaching. So called modern teaching methods guarantee an average score of just under 100 as evidenced over the past 100 years. Learning is an art and should be offered that way. Count Yogi Golf does just that.

  3. Bob Jones

    Nov 11, 2016 at 10:35 am

    Maybe your child is just not into golf.

  4. Grizz01

    Nov 11, 2016 at 9:41 am

    That is insulting to Offensive lineman. They are not just couch potatoes. If you want to play in a high level College. You need to bench 225 lbs. x20 and have incredible 10 yard burst and run a 40 in about 5.0-5.4. A height of no less than 6’3″ weighing in over 270lbs.

  5. KoreanSlumLord

    Nov 10, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    Fact…you were born with golf talent. No one reading this website was born with the golf gene. You either are or are not a player.

    • Grizz01

      Nov 11, 2016 at 9:37 am

      I was thinking in the same lines. All the info shared is good, but it may just come down to being athletic enough to pull it off. Another item is desire, there are people out there (which the PGA and USGA doesn’t seem to understand) who just don’t care and will never care about the game.

  6. golfbum

    Nov 10, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    Why? Well look at all the answers so far; they are all spot on. When I was a kid, at 6:00am is was “by mom, I am going to the golf course!…will be home for dinner!” Today, parents would never allow this to happen. They hover over the kids. Kids need to play golf with other kids, and develop their skills together.

    You know, when things like this come up my first reaction is to blame the GOLF CHANNEL….you see all these shows that highlight junior golf at the highest levels..thus parents make the false assumptions that their child should be this or that good by 11 years old. It just doesnt work that way, mommy! Far too many kids I see being coached by their 12 handicap fathers, spend far too much time at the range instead of just playing and again, playing with their peers. The game is supposed to be fun, but forcing a child to practice or managing their process should not be part of the equation. Standing over them while they do so, is not going work out well for you, Dad! Because daddy may be a CEO of some 100 million dollar company, but you have no clue how to play golf! You may be able to manage subordinates, but you have no clue how to play golf!

    Kids should play golf with kids! Play in tournaments and make friends. Lifelong friends!

  7. Rors

    Nov 10, 2016 at 12:00 am

    Wow, isn’t that a fact… XBOX generation…

  8. Pingback: Why isn’t my child getting any better at golf? – Swing Update

  9. Eric

    Nov 9, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    Probably because you’re not yelling at the loud enough

  10. Looper

    Nov 9, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    Some kids are just not going to make in some sports. Try’m all and see what sticks…

  11. Butter

    Nov 9, 2016 at 11:41 am

    The Parents need to take a look at themselves and ask how they were at all kinds of hand-eye ball sports when they were growing up themselves.
    And now kids have so many other things that they do, other sports and, video games etc. Are the kids willing to drop some of those other things to focus more on golf.

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Equipment

Jimmy Walker spotted testing a Titleist prototype driver?

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As spotted by GolfWRX Forum Member “anthony007,” Jimmy Walker was shown on the Golf Channel’s Morning Drive hitting an unidentified driver at the Warrior Open.

In anthony007’s forum post, along with the photo, he asks the question “Is this a new Driver from Titleist?”

Well, it’s hard to tell from the grainy photo exactly what the driver says on the sole. But then Jimmy Walker himself posted on Twitter saying: “Great catch! Its always fun to test new prototypes and the [Titleist on Tour] guys have given me some cool toys to play with that are incredible – but unfortunately I can’t talk about them yet!”

While the response is a bit cryptic, it does seem that Walker confirms he was indeed testing a Titleist prototype driver.

What do you think?

Click here to see what GolfWRX members are saying about the photo.

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Whats in the Bag

UNLV Rebels WITB: 2018 NCAA Men’s Championship

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The University Of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Men’s Golf team is participating in the 2018 NCAA Championship at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Oklahoma on May 25-30. Representing the Mountain West Conference, the team is led by Head Coach Dwaine Knight.

To see the team’s full roster, click here

Below, we highlight the clubs and shafts that each of the players on the team are using at the championship.

Shintaro Ban

Driver: Callaway Rogue Sub Zero (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Orange 70TX

3 Wood: Callaway Rogue Sub Zero (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Blue 80TX

Hybrid: Callaway Epic (20 degrees)
Shaft: Oban Steel 115

Irons: Callaway X Forged (4 and 5 iron), Callaway Apex MB (6-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Wedges: Fourteen RM Raw wedge (50, 55 and 60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 (50 and 55), S400 (60)

Putter: Odyssey O-Works 7S

Harry Hall

Driver: Titleist 917D2 (8.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Orange 70TX

3 Wood: Titleist 917 F3 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue M-AX 65TX

5 Wood: Titleist 917 F2 (18 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue M-AX 65TX

Irons: Titleist 718 AP2 (3-9 iron)
Shafts: KBS Tour V 120X

Wedges: Titleist SM7 (48, 54 and 60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold S300

Putter: Evenroll ER5 Hatchback (36.5 inches)

Jack Trent

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (8.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-TP 7X

3 Wood: TaylorMade M2 Tour (15 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 8TX

Hybrid: Titleist H2 818 (17 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 105X

Irons: Titleist T-MB (4 iron), Titleist 718 CB (5-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 (50, 56 and 60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100

Putter: Scotty Cameron Futura X5R
Grip: SuperStroke Flatso 1.0 (35 inches)

Justin Kim

Driver: TaylorMade M2 2017 (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-TP 7TX

3 Wood: TaylorMade M2 2017 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-TP 8TX

Driving Iron: Titleist 712U (3 iron)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 105X

Irons: TaylorMade P-750 (4-PW)
Shaft: KBS $-Taper 130X

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Sm6 (50, 54 and 58)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Scotty Cameron

Golf Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Justin Chong

Driver: TaylorMade M4
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-IZ 6X

3 Wood: TaylorMade M3
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 7X

5 Wood: Ping G30
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 7X

Hybrid: TaylorMade M1 (21 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD 85X

Irons: Miura CB-57 (4-PW)
Shafts: Project X LZ 6.5

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 (52-09 F Grind and 58-08 M Grind)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Odyssey V-Line Fang O-Works

Golf Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Garrick Higgo

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (9.5 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue Silver 60X 120MS

3 Wood: Titleist 917F3 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana Black 70 TX

Hybrid: Titleist 816H2 (18 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue 85H X-Flex

Driving Iron: Titleist TMB (2, 3 and 4 iron)
Shaft: KBS C-Taper 130X

Irons: Titleist AP2 (5-PW, GW)
Shafts: KBS C -Taper 130X

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 Matte Black (55 and 60 degrees)
Shafts: KBS C-Taper 130X

Putter: Scotty Cameron Futura X7M Black Tour Only

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

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Equipment

Spotted: New Aldila Rogue Silver 130 MSI shaft

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The official Tour launch of the Aldila Rogue Silver 130 MSI shaft is this week at the 2018 Forth Worth Invitational at Colonial, and we were able to snap a few photos on the range. MSI stands for millions of pounds per square inch, and basically, it refers to how stiff the fiber is — the higher the number, the greater stiffness it has.

Headed to retail later this summer, according to Aldila, the lower-launching, lower-spinning Rogue Silver 130 MSI is the successor to the Rogue Silver 125 MSI.

Per the company, the new Rogue Silver 130 MSI will feature the same tapered butt-counter-balanced design as the 125. The stronger 130 MSI carbon fiber produces slightly lower torque, however, and is the strongest material in a Rogue shaft to date.

Several Tour pros have already made the switch to the new shaft:

  • Jimmy Walker put the 70 TX in his driver for the first time at The Players. He had been gaming the 80 TX in his fairway wood since the Masters.
  • Kevin Chappell has been playing the 80 TX in both his 3 and 5-woods.
  • Martin Flores has put the 70 TX in his driver
  • Chez Reavie put the 60 TX in his driver at the Masters.

We’ll bring you more details as they become available closer to launch. Click here to see what GolfWRX members are saying about the new shaft in our forums.

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