How to coach your kids

'Children learn with a degree of fearlessness while adult students tend to be more cautious, ' says Peter Hudson.

Peter Hudson
Fri, 11 Feb 2005

How to coach your kids

‘Chill out, Mum. My coach says it’s good for my game’

Learning has to be easy, fun and quick to keep the average modern child alert. They tend to have a short attention span so it’s important to entertain, maintain their interest and show fast progress.

Helping kids to learn has many advantages. They learn with more sensory awareness and use the right side of their brain more creatively and more innovatively than adults.

They also learn with a degree of fearlessness while adult students tend to be more cautious.

When I was at school teachers tended to make us stand up to answer questions in front of the classroom. It was hardly confidence-building, especially when we didn’t know the answers. Often it was humiliating.

So what, as experienced golfers and enthusiastic teachers of golf to our offspring, can we do to integrate a golf coaching session and use it to help them in their schooling too?

Fact file

Golf coach and sports psychologist. Peter Hudson, has joined the Golfmagic instruction team to present an innovative series of articles, which we hope will shed new light on the game.

As president of the World Golf Teaching Federation of Great Britain and coach to the Essex county team, he aims to bring 30 years experience to Golfmagic visitors who are keen for themselves, their family and friends, to make the most from golf.

He says: "I don’t just teach what to learn but how to learn."

*More information about Peter Hudson’s approach to coaching can be found on his websites –www.yourgolfcoach.com and www.wgtfgb.com Alternatively call him direct on: 08700 114 292.

I trust in my young pupils’ talent by showing them great swings from videos, DVDs and books.

If you are passing on your knowledge to a young son, daughter or grandchild, suggest they pay particular attention to the balanced follow-through position. Immediately they have made a good swing they should feel more stable.

Ask them where their hands are at any moment in time and to notice any part of the movement that does not feel free and relaxed. They should be feeling like a well-oiled machine.

Encourage them to listen for the swish of the club and notice when it can be heard after the moment of contact.

On one of my training courses, I sent would-be golf coaches to a local school to ask children how they had fun. Among the feedback we learned that children like to make noise and break things.

I set up targets on the range, including bottles and dustbin lids, that made noises when hit by a ball. Children who could usually stay focused for only 15 minutes, remained on the range for up to two hours - fixated on the target, not the ball

Even with adults I’ve found that aiming at small, inviting targets (plates, for example) develops a level of focus and enabled pupils make minute adjustments to their swing speed, direction, feel and rhythm while becoming immersed in the accuracy required.

In a nutshell

DO

*Notice what they do well and tell them

*Find ranges with interesting varied targets that give pro-active feedback

*Ensure the clubs they use are the correct length and fit for them.

*Introduce putting games at home.

*Sign them up for organised group programmes (preferably after you have watched a session and have observed the kids enjoying constant attention).

Ask them to describe what they are learning. It will help them understand the game better.

Encourage them to practice to gentle rhythmic music.

DON’TS

*Sign them up for group sessions, which only amount to five minutes one-on-one.

*Tell them what they did wrong. Always ask them what they will do differently next time

* Be negative.

*Make learning competitive but point out when they make progress

*Ignore signs of frustration. Deal with it

*Let them merely copy your swing.

*Embarrass them or raise your voice

*Tell them to merely ‘hit the ball’. It will not encourage a balanced swing

*Let them hit a full shot until they can regularly strike the rubber tee peg with a fluent swing

*Let your enthusiasm overpower theirs

Conclusion

When they have learnt well, ask your children to notice how they maintained their interest, focus and enthusiasm. Encourage them to discover how learning is fun.

As they head off to school ask them what they would like to learn today. When you can manage to get them to ask themselves better questions in class, like ‘what is interesting about this’ or ‘how could this be interesting’ you will give them a potentially superior base for learning.