• Golf fitness for children

    Golf fitness for children

    By Garth Milne

    I am often asked, ‘When is the best time for my child to start playing golf?’ My response is always to find out the reasons you want your child to take up the game? If it is to encourage them to have fun learning and enjoy playing golf, you as a parent need to provide an environment that will allow them to develop a love for the sport.

    Their ability and level of skill should be worked on by their coaches. This is the best way to help your child realise whatever potential they may have.

    As to when they should start learning to swing a club, there are certain ‘Primal Movements’ all children should develop first. It is therefore important that gross motor learning be encouraged from ages 0-5. It is during these formative years that the neural system is the fastest developing system in the body. We want to take advantage of this window period. Movement is the door to learning. Children who play early on have advanced mathematical skills and avoid learning disabilities. As a parent you should therefore focus on assisting your child’s athletic development by encouraging them to move. By the age of two, children should be running, jumping, squatting, climbing, throwing, striking and balancing. They are then able to refine these skills over the next three years and then utilise them in specific sports later in life.

    If you are too focused on teaching them how to swing a club, following David Leadbetter’s latest swing DVD, you are on the wrong track. You are trying to start with fine motor control far too early, such as figuring out whether they should be using an ‘Interlocking’ or ‘Vardon’ grip! Children should only be developing these skills from age six onwards. Let them learn how by doing it their own way. This will then remain a fun activity for them, which is the whole point of it.

    From the age of six, your child is ready to start learning how to play golf. There are a number of methods used by golf coaches, but at Wanna Be A Champion we use a coaching system called SNAGTM (Starting New At Golf). SNAGTM comprises the use of enlarged clubs, balls and targets and contains all the basic elements of golf. This does not substantially alter the game’s fundamentals and it makes it easier to learn and master the basic principles of golf. What a child thinks is fun is often different from what an adult does. By trying teach a child the game as one would an adult, children are easily discouraged when they don’t have success early on. This is because skill acquisition occurs differently in children.

    So, you must ensure your reasons for wanting your child to play golf are well founded and based on the fun aspect. Encourage them to move and enjoy developing their movement capabilities. When they are ready to learn the skills associated with golf, contact your local PGA Pro and they will steer you in the right direction regarding Junior Coaching Clinics.

    Enjoy time with your child. Adding undue competitive pressure can strain what should be a wonderful, nurturing time of your lives.

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