This question often comes to me from parents who would like their child to develop golf skills to the point where they can compete first at the junior level and then at the collegiate level. Most do not appreciate the necessary skill sets required to achieve “elite” status in a specific sport or discipline. Therefore they are not in tune with the amount of time, effort and sacrifice that is necessary for success in the difficult game of golf.
Many parents have their children “OVER SCHEDULED”, with a myriad of activities (golf, tennis, band, the arts, etc.) and/or tutor’s that are expected to give the child an advantage over “others” in the academic arena and improve their chances of getting into an “elite” university. With a youngster that is “over-scheduled”, it is difficult for them to serve so many master’s. They become what is known as a “Jack of all trade’s, Master of none”.
Those parents who want their child to develop “elite” skills in a discipline should first identify the sport or activity that the child has a proclivity for. Skilled coach’s are able to determine if a youngster has the necessary attributes that could be developed into an elite performer. It does not matter whether the child is participating in golf, band, football, basketball, the arts or any other activity, it is important that they narrow their focus to one that allows them to develop fully into the “best that they can be”. Without the necessary focus and disciplines required to be an elite performer, it would or will be difficult to perform at a high level.
“So, how much should we practice”, I am asked? If the youngster is 8-12 I would suggest that they practice about 2 hours per day. Yes, every day! The practice session’s should be fun and focused on chipping, pitching and putting skills. The swing is what is practiced most, but contributes less to the ability to score. Therefore, a child who has short game skills will have an advantage in the scoring arena. About 70% of the practice time should be on the short game and putting skills. The remaining 30% will be involved with hitting shots TOO TARGET’S.
When the child becomes 12 or 13 there should be more focus and an increase in the length of practice time. We like to see the time bumped up to 3 to 4 hours per day with the same break down with short game and shot making. This rigorous schedule will not guarantee success, but it will put you in a position to have the opportunity for success. Without the hard work, dedication and sacrifice, you will become another “want to be” instead having a chance to be “elite” in whatever activity you choose.
I have student’s who will work 4 to 5 hours a day during the school week (yes, they really do!) AND maintain good grades in their academics. On the weekend they will work most of the day. Make no mistake about what is important, family comes first, academics second, and the sport or activity becomes third but will be close to importance with academics. Academics will always be important.
If you have a youngster, figure out what you and they want to focus on. (Children often times will not know so you will need to make decision’s for them and guide them) They will want to do “everything” but it is the parent’s job to limit activities until you choose which one is a good fit for your beloved child.