Parents, there is only one time to do this right. The developmental process only happens once.
You need a coach who understands this and can get them set up for optimizing performance.
You want a well-rounded athlete. The way to set this up is to allow a child to play multiple sports in their childhood. This exposes them to multiple movement patterns and the psychological dynamics of how to be a teammate and how to win and lose in competition.
Even if you have a child who is an excellent golfer, I train and treat them as an Athlete. They are an Athlete 1st and a golfer 2nd. On that note, golf is definitely an athletic sport and it's time to realize that the more athletic an individual is, the better golfer they are able to become.
Golf is a late-specialization sport. There are a number of PGA tour pros who excelled in other sports and then picked up and learned the game of golf in their late teens.
If we take a young kid and shove the game of golf and only golf down their throat at a young age, we run the risk of them hating it later on in their teens from burn-out, over-use injuries to their body from the repetitive nature of the swing, and them missing out on developing fundamental movement skills from playing other sporting activities.
When a child is young, I focus on teaching them Fundamental Movement Skills. Things like: running, skipping, hopping, agility and balance drills, throwing, kicking, striking, spatial awareness, coordination, etc.
After they have a strong base with that, we move into Fundamental Sports Skills. These skills are sport specific to make them more athletic. It involves more advanced forms of throwing and striking drills, drills that help them better understand body sequence and rhythm in action.
The combination of these two developed over the years provide a young athlete with their "physical literacy". This foundation lays down the abilities for stamina, speed, strength, mobility, and power.
As stated before, if a child specializes in one sport early, and only that sport, they miss out on developing all the fundamental movement skills. They develop what's known as proficiency barriers.
When children are young there are windows of opportunity to teach them certain athletic skills.
These "windows" are more open during certain years of their developmental age.
It is the job of the Coach to understand the difference between developmental age and chronological age. Failure to understand this eliminates the potential of so many good players.
There are factors at play behind the scenes of Long Term Athletic Development. These factors are:
- the influence of hormones
- strength development
- nervous system development
- the differentiation of muscle fiber types
Keith McCormack is a certified personal trainer and golf-fitness specialist living & working in St. Augustine, Florida. He loves working with all types of individuals but knows the basic fundamentals should never be overlooked. He takes a holistic approach to his training whether he's working with a high-level competitive client or a person looking to move better through life.