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My story originally appears on PGA.com on 10/12/21
Finding the right PGA Coach is critical for the development of your young golfer.
In the early stages of Active Start and FUNdamentals levels of ADM especially, you should look for more group programming. This programming should focus on Fun at the core but also, age-appropriate physical development.
You may find that in programming like this, a golf club or golf ball may not even be seen for a while…perhaps running, jumping or kicking would be activities you see. Do not worry, this is by design and in fact, if coaches running the program are doing things like this, you are likely in good hands.
These coaches understand the proper process. Golf fundamentals are introduced in due time, when it makes sense based on ADM research.
The Five Key Principles of the American Development Model
- Universal access to create opportunity for all
- Developmentally appropriate activities that emphasize motor and foundational skills. Golfer dropout rate will be reduced when appropriate activity is introduced.
- Multi-sport and multi-activity participation
- Fun, engaging and progressively challenging atmosphere
- Quality coaching at all levels
With the framework of the above in mind, I wanted to focus on the fifth principal of ADM, Quality coaching at all levels.
“Quality coaches are critical to athlete development; therefore quality coaching education is imperative for athlete success at all levels. Quality coaching not only requires a youth coach to be qualified and highly knowledgeable about their sport, but also to understand effective communication, practice planning and athlete development. The very best coaches view themselves as lifelong learners and are always working toward improving themselves.” — Per Golf’s American Development Model playbook
The large majority of my private coaching students are 12 and older and fall in the Play to Improve level. Beyond that, I rely heavily on a process that I go through with my students. I have a very important initial screening process where I not only test skills to use as a baseline, but I also screen other areas including mental and emotional aspects as well as having real conversations on what the end goals of the students are. Both short and long term.
While I never want to create anything that remotely looks like pressure to them, I do try to keep them accountable for their own success. Not only will that help them long term, but it also helps them learn to be responsible for the outcomes they have as they work with me through the process of becoming better with their game.
At times, it may not look like your stereotypical picture of a coach with a student, beating golf balls until golf blisters form on the student’s hands and pushing the concept of winning all the time. I am in fact, as is the American Development Model, looking to move past that and look at a holistic approach to the student’s long-term development and success…as both a golfer and person.