This article is part of guest series to the RecruitPKB “Complete Golfer” program by Chris Finn, owner of Par4Success in Cary, North Carolina.
RecruitPKB Perform: Prepare to be Great
Fact #1: 95% of United States junior golfers today will not play competitive golf beyond High School.
Fact #2: The international talent in college golf and on the PGA and LPGA Tours has exploded. These two statements may not seem related, but they are so closely intertwined they might as well be one. Experts believe that the rise in international success on the Tours is due to a shift that has taken place at the developmental levels internationally and is lagging here in the United States; Long Term Athletic Development.
Many international countries have adopted Long Term Athletic Development (LTAD) programs and the results are astounding when you look at population size compared to worldwide wins (South Korea anyone?). Conversely, in the USA, we are vastly continuing with the same traditional model and have been slow to pick up on the LTAD model. We focus on teaching juniors to be golfers instead of training them to be athletes who play golf. We focus on playing a lot of tournaments instead of on skill acquisition in conjunction with athletic development. Our obsession with victories at young ages often times comes at the expense of success later on in life. Instead of viewing tournaments as tests where we can evaluate our games and then use what we find to direct our continued practice and development, they become the end all, be all, hindering our longer term development.
LTAD is a fluid (children progresses through at different rates), research based and competition proven model that looks at the development of the child from the time they are beginning to engage in activities even before they enter grade school and suggests a framework all the way until they are adults either playing at an elite level or playing for enjoyment and/or business.
These programs evolve with the child from having fun playing games when they are young, to teaching them coordination and athletic movement mastery through age appropriate techniques and eventually working with them on flexibility, strength, power and athletic explosion in order to support and mastery the golf swing. Athletic training and skill acquisition are both integral parts of a LTAD Golf Program, but take on different emphasis levels at different developmental stages based on where the child is biologically, not chronologically.
By overplaying competitively and neglecting development of the tools necessary to succeed in college golf and perhaps even on Tour, we are hurting our juniors’ chances of being elite before they are out of middle school.
So, what can you do to keep pace with the international community and prepare to be great?
- Get yourself evaluated by a golf fitness/medical professional who understands juniors and their development
- Begin a customized golf fitness routine based off the evaluation results to support your golf game (can be as little as 15 minutes/day at home!)
- Make sure your golf fitness coach and swing coach are on the same page so they are both working towards the same goals and not working against each other