Help! What’s Wrong with My Kid?
“Ty was playing great until his Junior year. It seems like as soon as we started talking about colleges and coaches his scores went up an average of 5 strokes a round.”
This is but one of hundreds of scenarios that play out every day in the world of Junior golf. Aspiring young junior golfers with promising potential suddenly seem to stall in their progress, or even quickly lose ground. When they were 12-14, they played great and competed well but now they are struggling.
For a parent it can be an exhausting, frustrating, even bewildering experience trying to find some way to assist. And heart-breaking when the son or daughter rebukes your best efforts.
Here are a few basic tips to help you help your junior golfers when their game starts to slide.
1. Seek First to Understand
Where some educated, informed and well-meaning parents can go wrong is when they jump in with both feet and start telling their son or daughter what to do. Depending on the kid, this seldom works even if the parent has the perfect solution.
It can be an immediate “turn off”. Your junior golfers will likely hear your well-meaning advice as criticism or rejection, simply because you are their parent.
It’s more difficult, but far better to start by trying to understand all that your son or daughter is currently feeling about golf, school, friends, themselves and any other important area of their life.
After you promise yourself–and if necessary, your child–that you will not react, judge or try to fix (only listen), you can hopefully engage your son or daughter in a good heart-to-heart talk.
Sometimes just feeling that their fears and frustrations are understood is enough to break the “log jam” and free them to sort through their own challenges.
In the case of Ty, his dad’s first approach was to tell him in a stern voice, “You are making too many mistakes when it counts. If you want a college scholarship you need to spend more time practicing those shots until you get them right “. The result, Ty’s play got worse.
2. Check Your Junior Golfer’s Balance
Often problems for Juniors can simply start with too much or too little of something. For example:
- technical practice
- junk food
- time on the phone or computer or with friends
- expectation (parent’s or child’s)
Or too little:
- healthy, regular meals and snacks
- water and balanced electrolytes
- course management
Where do you start? Help your player take inventory of where his or her time is going. Assist them in setting priorities and balancing their time around them, letting go of things that are less important if possible. Then help them look for ways to improve the quality of the time they have for each of their chosen priorities.
Back to Ty. After some encouragement, Dad agreed to have a heart-to-heart with Ty. During the discussion It became more apparent to both of them that each had gotten more obsessed with scores and that Ty was feeling more than exhausted and overwhelmed by school and golf.
Next came a check of his balance. Relative to the other areas of his life, Ty was putting plenty, possibly even too much, time into practice. He in fact needed more time for both homework and sleep (without sacrificing his little time with friends). His new goal was to spend less time at the course, but better organize and do effective practice.
3. Help Your Junior Golfers Give Themselves a Mental Game Check-Up When Their Play is Faltering
To play their best, your junior golfers will need to learn good mental skills and keep them sharp.
Learning good mental skills will give your junior golfer a distinct edge now and for years to come. Especially when it is time to catch and correct problems that are costing them strokes.
- Good mental skills will allow your junior golfer to get much more from their practice, lessons and play.
- Improving mental skills will sometimes correct physical game problems, or at least allow accuracy in figuring out any technical weaknesses.
- Strong mental skills will give your junior more consistency, a greater feeling of control and confidence, therefore the ability to play better under pressure.
- Improving mental skills is the fastest way to improve competitive performance.
- Strong mental skills will enable them to handle the pressure of bigger competitions and coaches watching.
Two of these 8 champion traits are essentials of a good mental game. We encourage you to check and strengthen these skills first:
- Managing Tension
There is a fast, easy and accurate way to help your son or daughter get a mental game tune up at anytime. Simply have your him or her take the 20 minute on line mental game inventory called the Mental Game Skills Assessment.
Your junior will get an easy-to-read chart illustrating their current mental strengths and weaknesses. And a personalized guide for strengthening those skills to help them get the very most from their game.
Ty’s dad encouraged him to go on-line and answer the multiple choice questions in the Mental Game Skills Assessment, choosing his answers based on his play the previous two months.
Both were surprised at what they learned. The once confident junior was now struggling with doubt and poor self talk. Together they selected ideas from the recommended steps to strengthening his 3 key weaknesses at the time: focus, tension and low confidence. One of his favorite goals was challenging himself to use any thought of college or coach as an immediate cue to relax with a deep breath and regain focus with a strong mental routine. Ty’s game soared and he went on to play college golf and is now pursuing his professional dreams.
Please contact us if you have a particular situation or challenge or are just lost about what to do. We want to help.
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