New Approach to Kids’ Golf Lessons
The easiest way for kids to learn any sport, including golf, is to learn in parts, starting with easy tasks before trying full swings. Golf professionals know how to make learning the game fun, using a variety of equipment, targets and games.
In addition to having a golf instructor introduce your child to the game, you can work with your son or daughter in between lessons (even if you’re not a great player) to help your child practice what his or her instructor has taught. Following six simple techniques for learning golf, parents can help kids get started and eager to keep coming back for more.
Get Professional Golf Instruction
Starting with lessons helps your child get on the right track from the beginning, and she won’t have to unlearn bad habits later. Even though your child might spend more time practicing with you than taking lessons from a pro, it’s important that your parent-child practices include correct technique instruction.
Making Golf Fun
No kid says, “Yippee, I get to learn, practice and work on something today!” Kids want to play. You can make learning fun without your child even knowing he’s taking a “lesson” by setting up games that include problem solving (such as hitting targets or getting the ball in the hole). Your child will make technique adjustments to solve the problems. This is where you’ll give some technical instruction and repeat what you’re child’s coach has taught him.
Look for kids’ clinics that allow your child to meet and play with other youngsters. When children learn in groups, it’s easier to “hide” mistakes and to see that other kids aren’t perfect either.
Build in Success
Kids have fun when they are successful at reaching a goal. Keeping your elbows in or keeping your head down is not a fun goal to achieve. Hitting a target, landing the ball on the green or sinking a putt in two tries is fun. Make it easy for your child to find success by making sure goals are easy to achieve. For example, use a hula-hoop as a target on a green. It’s much easier for a child to land a short pitch into a hula-hoop than to get the ball into the cup on a green. Tell your child she has three chances to get a ball that’s 20 feet away from the hole into the cup, rather than sinking the putt on the first try as the goal.
Use the Graduated Length Method
Golf is all about ball control. Power and distance aren’t important if you hit the ball hard into the woods or far into the rough. To help kids learn how to control the ball, start them close to the hole, progressing from putting to chipping to pitching to driving. Read our article on golf for beginners to learn how to use the graduated length method for the quickest results..
Provide Correct Feedback
Avoid making comments or corrections after each shot your child hits. People learn by doing, so give your child plenty of chances to make adjustments based on results. Use the following formula to provide feedback when you work with your child:
- 50% of the time: Say nothing
- 40% of the time: Provide positive feedback (tell them what TO do)
- 10% of the time: Provide negative feedback (tell them what NOT to do)
Remember that lessons should be fun. Making lots of critical comments, and giving lots of different instructions will confuse and frustrate your child.
Play More than Learn
Make sure that most of your practice sessions are spent playing, not learning. Several times each session, ask yourself, “Am I spending more time instructing my child, or playing with her?” Your child will ask for help when she needs it. Watch your golf pro when he’s giving your child a lesson. He will not give a different technique suggestion after each swing. He will let your child swing a number of times without offering any advice, allowing your child to make his own adjustments.
Keep lessons short. If possible, end lessons a few minutes early while you’re child still wants to play – she’ll want to come back for more. Continuing your practice session after your child it tired, hot, thirsty or bored will leave a final impression in her mind that the practice wasn’t fun. Golf Digest magazine suggests limiting practice sessions to 30 minutes, giving only 10 minutes of technical instruction during that time.
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