Golf Training Specifically for Junior Golfers

By: Jim O Connell

For those youthful golfers who want to take up the game, we want to set a few guidelines on what sort of training ought to be conducted at what ages. Every junior golfer must be taken separately, but I think a few generalities exist for the physical and mental training for junior golfers.
Since children fluctuate so much in both physical and mental development, setting tiers of achievement on at what age training for junior golfers ought to be done is tricky. I will use the following as being a general guide:
1. Under 10 years. At this time, we should be concerned about appreciating the overall game of golf and its "fun" aspect. Instruction as such doesn't need to be entirely structured, and if too structured might cause more long-term damage than good. If the association with golf is only being a chore, and not something good fun, the junior golfer's staying power for the game may not continue long-term. Boosting motor patterns and co-ordination proficiency is what we are trying to achieve at this time, not strictness and self-sacrifice. Encouragement is paramount, but poor conduct must in no way be tolerated.
2. Age 10 to 16 years. Preparation for junior golfers at this time ought to put emphasis on good fundamentals and proper technique, the building blocks for the future development as a golfer. I'm a firm believer in cross training in sport; that is, being involved in the skills of other sports, such as the fooltwork and balance required in basketball or soccer, or the hand-eye coordination of baseball, to focus on and further improve the talents of the young golfer. The huge growth spurt that's taking place at this age calls for the need to gain "posture awareness", and much of the young golfer's preparation ought to revolve around this. Self-discipline in training for the game should become ever more prominent.
3. Age 16 to 20 years. Now's when to specialize, but a balanced life remains important. Becoming a top flight golfer is still a marathon, not a sprint, so developing a training agenda for junior golfers at an level, steady tempo where progress is made week by week is really a key ingredient. At this time self-discipline is becoming very important, as you will have certain days when training is not going to be something the junior golfer really wants to complete, however must push through and accomplish something that day regarding his development. Clearly, the body will still need time to recuperate after rigorous working out sessions, or nagging injuries will rear up, thus setting the training back. I remember reading where Andre Agassi, when asked how he got through training days that he didn't want to do, said that he always tried to keep equivalent high-level intensity, but just cut back on the time in the workout. Hardly anyone can duplicate the exact same vigor for his or her craft each day.
The need to maintain balance, both from physical exercise (not overloading the body with physical activity), and mental overload (to prevent burnout), is of significant magnitude. Contrary to what people might believe, professional golfers are not made when they are junior golfers. Training for junior golfers is simply laying the foundations, but the real building of the truly accomplished golfer arrives afterward. However, if the foundations are rushed, or are not appropriately set, the ultimate product won't ever materialize.

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Junior golfers just starting off should get off on the right foot, and we have two articles that will help. A Consistent Golf Swing will deal with a consistent, repeatable swing that will not break down when under pressure. Tips for New Golfers will help the golfer just starting out with some of the basics of the game. Jim O'Connell is a writer and avid golfer who spent years coaching juniors. He now lives in London.

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