Over the years, we have worked with a lot of Juniors and a lot of parents, and we can say that we have heard parents give a lot of feedback! While we believe parents are well-intentioned, it can be very tricky to know the “right” thing to say to your Junior after a nine-hole event or a lesson.
Here is a quick list of 4 tips to help guide you in the right direction with your Junior Golfer:
- DO: Allow the child to learn at his/her own pace.
As golf coaches, our job is to see what the golfer understands or is confused by, and scale as needed for the golfer. As a parent, it helps to recognize any limitations and help aid them as needed. But it doesn’t mean your child is in poor shape; it simply means that he/she may need a different approach to gain understanding. If it takes longer than you think it should, don’t worry! Some of our best golfer stories started just like this!
- DON’T: Solve the Junior’s Problem
If you are guiding the process, the Junior will become very dependent on you, the golf coach, or even fellow Junior golfers. For instance, we have seen Junior golfers whose parents did not allow for this independence, then when the Junior hit a bad shot on the golf course, she looks over to her parents for an explanation. She seeks a response from her parents before creating her own response. This prevents her from understanding the situation, then she is reliant on another to help solve it. Our goal as coaches and parents is to instill this independence so that the Junior can begin to rely on themselves for problem solving.
- DO: Praise the Effort and Work
Parents are often confused about the “right” thing to say during a nine hole event or after a practice. Psychologists tell us that the most encouraging thing you can say is, “I love to watch you play.”
We encourage parents to praise the skills that they want to develop, like perseverance, problem solving, hard work and a great attitude. When we only praise “winning” the Junior can get discouraged, but when we praise the hard work and persistence, it was the “process” and not necessarily the “results” that matters.
- DON’T: Critique the Junior
If you have ever played a round of golf, you know how frustrating it can be! Trust us that many Juniors quit the game of golf because they don’t like feeling that they are disappointing their parents. If you just stay quiet, and praise the effort, you will likely see a Junior that bounces back after most challenges.
Being a parent to a Junior in sports is Hard! It seems like there are so many ways to get it wrong! Allow the game to be the best teacher for your Junior, and trust that the coach and the game can provide the feedback that the Junior needs to improve.