October 24, 2011

How Does A Junior Golfer Learn Best

There are several schools of thought about the process that helps young players get better at the game of golf. There are some who believe that spending many hours hitting shots and rolling putts is the key.

There are others who believe that just playing the game- being out on the golf course as much as possible is the way to achieve competence.  Still others think that having an instructor stand by the player’s side while they hit balls, roll putts, or play the game is how to get it done.  What’s the “right” answer?  A little bit of all of these.

While one can always point to individual exceptions to just about any rule, the truth is that there is a common thread among most successful golfers who started out playing golf as a junior.

That thread is to make sure that there is a developmental plan that incorporates all the elements of the game, and that the young player has a purpose in mind each time he or she has a golf club in hand.  This includes in the practice areas as well as on the course.

It is not enough to have raw physical talent- the courses throughout America and beyond are full of players who did not achieve what many thought was their physical potential.  It is not enough to simply hit balls repeatedly on the range without some sense of what one is trying to accomplish and without some feedback about whether or not that’s being accomplished.  It is not enough to simply make a tee time, play 18 holes and hope some lessons are learned along the way.

Sport science research shows that the task of becoming an expert at a game like golf requires that a young player identify and learn the skills that will create more consistency.  These skills include having the player monitor and control his performance, become more aware of his own limitations and strengths, and recognize how to make adjustments in specific conditions.

In other words, it is critical that there be a constant “feedback loop” on what’s working and what is not, and that there be specific strategies to address those things that are not working very well.

Make sure that the time spent on the golf course or on the practice range or putting green is productive.  Identify an area for improvement, have a plan on how to enhance that area, and pay attention to these things when you’re playing.  That’s the way to learn the fastest and learn the most about how to be the player you want to be!

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