October 24, 2011

Golf For Juniors-A Parents Guide

The role of the parent in the life of a junior golfer can be a confusing or challenging one at times. Below are some points to keep in mind when parenting your young golfer.

  1. Allow your child to have the right to choose whether or not to participate. Nothing will motivate a child more than the sense of investment that comes in choosing his/her own activities. On the other hand, little will reduce a youngster’s motivation more than having their parent dictate their participation.
    My suggestion here is that the child be compelled to participate in something positive, and that the choice of activity be its own. This may mean that golf is not the ultimate answer for your child.
  2. Remember this is your child’s sport experience. In doing parent workshops and coach workshops, this is one of the most often discussed issues. In short, remember that this is Johnny or Susie’s opportunity to enjoy golf.
    This is not about you. You either had your day in the sun as a player or you didn’t. Work hard to separate yourself from your kid’s accomplishments.
  3. Focus on effort rather than results. Remember that old adage about, “it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game”? Keep it in mind as you communicate with your child about his experiences.
    “Did you have fun?” and “You sure worked hard!” are ultimately more important than, “Did you win?” or “What was the score?”
    Results are important too, but remember to reinforce the effort.
  4. Keep your critical comments about players, instructors, course conditions and tournament officials to yourself. Is this one obvious enough? I know it’s everyone else that does it, not you.
    Look in the mirror Mom and Dad! Let’s be models for helping your child focus on what’s going well and what’s right rather than what’s wrong, and let’s help them take personal responsibility for what’s happening with their game rather than using outside factors be excuses.
  5. Make sure your aspirations and your child’s aspirations are realistic. Nothing wrong with setting standards of improvement toward excellence, just make sure that you and/or your child haven’t set up a circumstance for a feeling of failure.
    Get honest feedback from professionals you trust and set realistic goals. Sometimes the truth is painful!
  6. Interact appropriately with your child during practice and tournaments. Very little more embarrassing or discouraging to a young athlete than a parent who is overly vocal or interferes with the lesson or competitive process.
    Save your input until the lesson or round is over.
    At that point make sure what you’re communicating is helpful and constructive. (See #4 above!)

I know that 99.9% of the time your intention as a parent is to enhance your child’s golf experience. Let’s just be sure that you’re making every effort to be a part of the solution rather than a part of the problem. Have fun along with your children!

Jeff Troesch is an internationally recognized expert in the field of mental skills training and performance enhancement and has been involved in training athletes and other elite performers for nearly 18 years.

Jeff served as Director of Mental Training for David Leadbetter’s Golf Academies, where he was instrumental in assisting in the development of the training programs and methodology that continues to produce golf champions around the world. He works with several touring professionals and amateur players – assisting them in the creation of optimal training plans and developmental strategies.

Jeff’s work and his opinions have been featured in several media outlets, including: Golf Digest; Golf Week magazine; Asian Golf Magazine; Baseball America; Fox Sports’ “Going Deep”; Gillette Sports Week; Wide World of Sports; Tennis Magazine; and several international publications.

Jeff speaks annually at selected AJGA events and continues to be a regular columnist for Golf Extra, Scratch Golfer, Par Four, and Texas Junior Golfer magazines, as well as The Desert Sun newspaper.