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Junior Golf Tournaments are everywhere and year round. In Texas and other southern states, Junior Golfers can play year round, with several Junior Golf Tournaments to choose from every week. This could add up to 100 or more competitive rounds a year! Is this good for your game?

Things have really changed. If my Junior Golfers are not playing 12 months a year now, they feel like they are getting behind. And I can see it hurting some of their games.

-Steve Ball, Golf Digest #1 Instructor in Oklahoma, Master Professional, GolfPsych Instructor.

If you were asked “when does your golf season begin, and when does it end?”, could you give a quick and definite answer? Or would you have to think about it?

As more and more junior golfers find the opportunity to play Junior Golf Tournaments year round, many are doing it. You may be headed for a set back if you are one of them. This is especially true if you are well into your junior golfing career and feeling the effects of one or more of the three big P’s:

Peer pressure, Parental push, Points & rankings.

All can lead to over-competing or an unending tournament schedule.

How do you know if you are over competing? The first signs are feelings of under-performing, being easily frustrated, and finding competitive golf less fun. In later stages, these signs can be followed by a major slump, injuries and depression, and even threats of giving up the game.

Whether you are over-competing or not, you will find it helpful to learn a bit about “periodization” and how it has been used to balance and train some of the worlds greatest athletes in many different sports.

What is Periodization?

Periodization was developed decades ago by the former Soviet Union as a way of controlling every possible aspect of training for their elite athletes. It came to be an all-inclusive method for preparing individuals to reach optimum performance and led the former Eastern Bloc countries to gold medal dominance in many Olympic sports.

Their method was overwhelmingly comprehensive and included:

  • detailed aspects of physical workouts
  • diet
  • scheduling
  • training
  • competition
  • all dimensions of the athlete’s lifestyle

While extremely personally demanding, this method helped produce some of the greatest athletes of our time, all of whom were programmed to peak during Olympic competition. Their programs were designed based on their competitive schedules and included off-season time for rest and recovery. And yes, periodization has found its way to all levels of competitive golf.

Consider the top Tour players’ schedules. Tiger Woods only played 17 PGA Tour events each season and talked of trying to peak for the majors. Phil Mickelson is hard to find on Tour after August. They each strive for clear and well-defined off-seasons and competitive seasons. Between, they commit time to improving their games in various ways, including fitness, and instructor or equipment changes.

Vijay Singh, on the other hand, plays many more tournaments but is also known to fluctuate in performance.

You don’t have to compete in Junior Golf Tournaments every week to improve or maintain.

Benefits of Periodization for You

Even the simplest level of periodization can help you in a number of ways. It will not only help you get better, organized use of your time and energy. It will also enable faster development of your skills with less frustration, fewer injuries, no burnout and more fun.

For the past decade, periodization has been introduced in every GolfPsych Mental Game School for players, coaches, and instructors. Forms for using periodization are included in the Online Coaching System. And GolfPsych is not alone. Many top Australian and Canadian golfers were introduced to periodization in early training programs and are continuing to use many aspects of it on into their professional careers.

Kevin Kirk, 2 Time PGA Professional Teacher of the Year in Texas and GolfPsych Instructor, has each of his competitive golfers complete a periodization planning sheet with him to identify goals, training, and schedules for an entire year.

Henry Brunton, National Coach for the Royal Canadian Golf Association and GolfPsych Instructor, includes aspects of periodization in his National Player Development Program. Both have noted better progress, skill development, and performances with players who follow their plan.

Getting Started

Here are some simple steps if you would like to try periodization yourself. You might find it better to invite your parents or instructor to assist, especially if they help make and organize your schedule.

Begin by deciding on the most logical beginning and ending for your season. As a Junior golfer, you may actually have two seasons that merge: one for your high school team and one for your independent Summer play.

Try to block at least one period of time during the year that you will have completely off. For most Juniors, this is either over the holidays at the end of the year, or at the end of summer play. Try to make this break at least 4 to 6 weeks even if it means missing one of your favorite or most important junior golf tournaments.

Your next step is to create a basic plan for your year. To do this easily, you will need a calendar and a tablet (or a GolfPsych GameBuilder Guide). Also helpful to have available is as much information about your playing schedule as you can gather at this time, as well as your school calendar, dates for family vacations, and any other events during the year that are important or that you simply do not want to miss, like Homecoming or a family wedding.

Planning Your Year- Your Timeline

On a tablet or form, draw one long horizontal line across the top of the page. You will chart your timeline for your year on this line.

Using the current month as your starting point, and on your line, divide the next twelve to thirteen months into 4 distinct periods or seasons. If you feel you have two seasons, you may have 8 periods–4 for your school season and 4 for your summer season

They are described here briefly. Label your periods accordingly. Below each of your periods or seasons, write down the things you hope to do during that period. For example, play 4 school events, 2 outside Junior Golf Tournaments and one qualifier. Or, begin a weight training program. Or, take a family vacation.

Competitive Season – The months during which you play Junior Golf Tournaments. Even during your season, you should be pacing yourself if you control your tournament schedule.

Post-Season – Time after your season to step away from golf and reflect a bit. You will talk with your parents or instructor about your competitive season to identify all the things you did well, what you learned, and what you want to improve. Its also a time to start to catch up on some of the friends, family or activities you have been missing. It includes increased amounts of time to work on skills and physical abilities.

Off Season – A complete break from golf. Time to rest your body, reduce the stress and chill for awhile. Also time to catch up on other important aspects of your life, like organizing your messy closet, learning a new computer game, hanging out with friends–things like that….

At the end of Off Season you will talk with your parents or instructor to decide on things you will want to accomplish in your pre-season. Actual golf practice or play is very limited. You may have a fitness and strengthening program during this time.

Pre-Season – Time to start preparing for the competitive season in all ways possible! You will want to meet with your instructor to identify and begin working on the physical skills you will need to improve or refresh. [If you are changing instructors, this is probably a good time.] Determine the mental skills you want to strengthen or refresh and work on them. We make this easy with the Mental Skills Assessment and report.

Start or adjust your conditioning and fitness program. It is a good time to have your clubs checked and refitted, especially if you have grown in the past year [if you are changing clubs, this is a good time].

And it is a great time to do a wellness/nutritional assessment to be sure your diet is fully supporting your goals (especially hydration, a common deficiency with junior golfers).

Want to try it? Sign up for the Online Coaching System membership. You will get the Periodization Goal Setting system as well as lots of other online tools.

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"Thanks for the GolfPsych updates.  I used them a lot when I played on the PGA Tour and I still use them quite a bit here at Illinois with my team!" - Mike Small


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