By Kenny Leech, Assistant Director of Don Law Golf Academy
Being a kid is tough! Kids have their whole life planned for them. Their life is consumed by spending a majority of their time in school, followed by extra curricular activities including soccer, football, basketball, tennis, band practice, etc. The list goes on. Then, there is even more homework on top of that! To say that kids have a limited amount of time to play or practice golf is an understatement. I believe that the best way to encourage practice is to get your child to enjoy their practice time. All kids are different. Some juniors love going to the range and other juniors would rather spend more time on the course. While there is no perfect way to practice, there is a way to make your practice more effective. Let’s dive into this!
All kids are different and, as parents, we understand why they enjoy certain things. It’s very easy to see if your child is enjoying their practices and, if so, then keep the structure the same. You can change the challenges to keep them wanting to break down new barriers. If you are struggling to keep your child interested or looking to change up practices and make them more effective, then this could be for your child.
The days of standing on the range and beating golf balls are over! We have been given the narrative for ages that the secret to golf is “In the Dirt”. For those who don’t know, “In the Dirt” is in reference to players hitting repeated golf balls until they figure it out. We have been told that we need to hit 10,000 golf balls in order to create a habit. While I believe it is important for young adults to find answers to the theories of golf for themselves, It can be just as effective if they find these answers with some framework. The idea is still there, we just supply a little incentive and structure.
Hitting balls on the range without a purpose can lead to frustration, boredom, monotony, lethargy and carelessness. If there is a purpose to the practice session besides “lets see if i can hit 200 balls with keeping my left arm straight” then we can make some real changes. A monotonous routine will lead to a plateau in your development. While it may have worked in the beginning, your body has adapted to the practice and is running on auto-pilot. In golf, this is not a good thing. Why is that you ask? Golf is the most random sport in the world. There was a famous scene in the movie Hoosiers where Gene Hackman (Coach) measures the distance the rims are off the ground and the distance from the hoop to the free throw line. He proceeds to say “I think you’ll find it’s the exact same measurements as our gym back in Hickory” in order to calm his players nerves about playing on a big stage. Unfortunately, in golf this is not true. No two courses are alike and conditions change daily. So why do we just sit on the range and hit as many balls as we can as straight as we can? We need to add variability in our practice to become great at adapting to the conditions that present themselves.
In our practice, we need to make sure our actions match our intentions. If our purpose was to go to the range and hit 350 balls until our hands blistered, then job well done for completing it. Most people equate the number of balls hit on the range to learning. Instead, we should make our practice more about quality than quantity. An effective way to get the most out of your practice is to place a value on every shot. Create an environment during practice that is competitive, high cognition and goal oriented. I’ve never met a child that was given a task and wasn’t motivated by a reward. Design a task for the practice and reward your child for completing it! There can be multiple tasks just as long as they are obtainable. In order to keep your child motivated, the tasks must have a 70% success rate. Failure must come first before we can experience success. By failing we see opportunities for growth. I don’t feel my students need to fail more than they succeed. That’s why I like to train with a 70% success rate. This allows for them to experience some adversity and triumph all in the same practice. This type of learning can be applied to putting, pitching, irons, drivers and on course. By adding value to each of our shots during practice, we can unlock new desires to get better at the game of golf. It will make our practices more effective and keep us wanting to come back for more!
Kenny Leech is the Assistant Director of Don Law Golf Academy