I am often asked about how best to teach golf to kids.
The answer varies depending on the individual’s age, ability etc. Children are massively more instinctive than grown up’s. Tell a child to hit the ball over your head and they will see it as a challenge and instinctively get the ball into the air. Tell an adult to do the same thing and they will want to know all about the proper angles required and will be more concerned with hitting you, losing the freedom required to achieve the required flight.
This natural free ability is something that has to be remembered at all times when we are teaching children to play golf. The last thing we want to do is take away their natural ability and replace it with technical thoughts. I often see parents who are so concerned with achieving technical success that they forget what the game is all about.....hitting the ball to a target.
I am not for a minute ignoring the fact that it is VITAL that we instil good solid fundamentals at a young age. As a teaching professional it is my job to ensure that I improve golfers’ technique. However when dealing with kids we have to approach this task with more care and attention. Our goal is to improve technique without them knowing it. I often refer to teaching kids as “sneaking information” into them.
Over the next four weeks I am going to share some tips on how best to coach and improve children. I am also inviting those with questions to email me. I will endeavour to address as many issues raised as possible via this column. Email me on email@example.com. I have started the ball rolling with one of the most common questions I get asked.
What is the best age for my child to start playing?
An experience I had a few years ago confirmed my belief that there is no age requirement to teaching kids. If they can walk they have the required skills to play the game. I was very fast to inform the parent/grandparent that a child can learn at any age. What I hadn’t anticipated was that he had just turned four years of age.
At first I thought this would be okay but as the lesson approached I started to become apprehensive. How was I ever going to be able to teach a four year old? The more I thought about it the more I wondered how I was ever going to teach him about things he won’t understand. Grip, stance, club face etc were like talking Japanese to a four year old. It was then that I realised that I had to call things different names and in fact telling him less was going to be better.
The first few lessons came and went, we started on the putting green and before I knew it he was consistently two putting from 20 feet. We moved onto to hitting full shots and I was amazed at how quickly he picked everything up. I can honestly say I learnt far more from teaching him that he did from me. He confirmed that kids play the game with so much less going on in their minds than we do, and they are far better off for this.
When dealing with very young kids we should never hold them back or stop them from taking up this great game because WE think we they won’t understand how to do it. Remember less is more!