This is the time of year where multi sport athletes get a lot of praise.
In the next few months we will have seen the completion of:
- College Football National Championship
- NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl
- National Signing Day
All of these are related to football. Football seems to be the one sport that kind of understands athletic development. Health and safety are a current issue but that is a different topic.
Most football players follow the basic rules of athletic development.
Golf on the other hand is a sport that does not like to play by the same rules as other sports. It is a very technical sport that requires a lot of skill to be successful.
It is not a contact sport so preparation is different than football or hockey.
Golf also does not require any running speed, agility, or conditioning.
This is what makes golf unique. Anyone can really play even if they are not the best athletes. It also allows golfers to play until they get older.
Junior golfers have a great opportunity ahead of them if they choose to take the right steps. The key for junior golfers is think like an athlete first.
Golfers benefit tremendously from being an athlete first. Have you ever noticed how the most athletic kid seems to be pretty good at everything he or she does? I don’t have a research explanation to it but it is prevalent.
The sport does not matter, a good base of athletic qualities will help a young kid in whatever sport they choose.
Individual sports are also breeding grounds for early specialization issues. This is most often burnout and overuse injuries.
The best way for a kid to avoid overuse is exposure to a lot of different movement patterns. Distinct off seasons are also helpful. Young golfers should not be dealing with back pain. That is a result of overuse.
Burnout is another issue. This usually has to be coupled with external pressure from coaches/parents. A young kid is only going to take so much of one thing. Do not try to become a golfing prodigy at a young age and have no other experience with other sports.
Play Multiple Sports
Golfers should play multiple sports until and including when they are in high school. I usually like to think that specialization shouldn’t occur before a kid can drive.
A lot of the successful PGA tour players would have been able to play another sport with success. Dustin Johnson could have played basketball, Jordan Spieth could have played baseball, and Sergio could have played soccer.
Good athletes can run, jump, skip, push, pull, swing, kick, etc. Get used to different movement patterns. This will help develop a lot of different skills. Some will transfer and others will not. The point is to avoid overuse and allow the kid to have fun.
Golf is the perfect spring/summer activity. Traditionally, most kids have sports to play in the fall, winter, and spring. Now, all sports are played all year round. Kids can take the summer to play as much golf as possible. Those that play high school can roll right into the season as well.
Take the winter and part of spring to do some other sports.
Find a Good Performance Program
I might be biased here but I think performance programs are essential for helping kids develop athleticism.
These programs are often the best way to teach kids how to run, jump, skip, etc. Practices are usually trying to teach the basics of the game but kids have no real way to learn how to move.
We can also utilize proper strength training to help build durability and power production in the swing. Young kids will start with their body weight and start using weights as they get older.
I think the worst thing a kid can do is declare themselves strictly a golfer at an early age. They should spend time learning other sports and movement patterns. It will help their game as well as their overall development.