Why isn't my child getting better????

I was having a conversation with a parent a couple of weeks ago who was expressing concern over why their child did not seem to be improving. The child in question was under 10, been playing the game for around 2 years, and has seen dramatic improvements over summer 2015. Despite the weather, the child is still playing a lot of golf and to the concern of the parent does not seem to be progressing at the same rate as previously.

It was after a 30 minute conversation with this parent that I decided I should discuss some of the points we talked about as it wasn’t the first time I had encountered this. It is often only human nature to want to see your child continually progressing however this isn’t always the story; but more importantly, it is certainly NOT a problem.

Let’s just start with a couple of basic truths before going into this in a bit more detail;

• GOLF IS HARD! Whether it is a 6 year old child, or a multiple major winner, the game of golf is a tough one to master. You only have to look up and down the range on a weekday night to see numerous adults battling with themselves, trying to solve their problems. Give your child a break if they are having a tough day, week or even month; this game is not easy!

• SUCCESS DOES NOT FOLLOW A STRAIGHT LINE PATTERN. Despite people often thinking that success is all one big fairytale of win after win, this is far from the truth. If you speak to any successful athlete, they will tell you of the struggles they have had and the multiple failures they have dealt with. The good old cliché of “you have to make a mistake to learn” is a great one. I like to think of ‘failures’ as the catalyst to success….allow your child to fail; it’s not a bad thing!

Now that the ‘obvious’ stuff is out of the way, I would like to introduce some other ideas that must be considered when worrying about your child’s performance.

1. GROWTH SPURTS

These are unavoidable and all children go through them but here’s a vitally important concept to understand. As children experience growth spurts, the proportion of their body parts change.

• At the age of 2, a child’s legs make up 2/5 of their body. By age 7, their legs are now 3/6 of their body.
• At the age of 7, a child’s arms are 2.75/6 of their body but by age 14 their arms are 3/7 of their body.

Importantly, these changes in body proportions drastically affect the coordination abilities of a child. Imagine now if I added 3 inches to your arms and asked you to swing a golf club; it would be all over the place! This is arguably one of the most important concepts to understand when judging a child’s abilities and this factor of growth and coordination must be taken in account before judging “why your child has suddenly got worse?”

2. PERFORMANCE PLATEAUS

With anything in life, there becomes a time when performance plateaus and the journey to the ‘next level’ may not be as quick as the previous journey. Any golfer will know that reducing your handicap from 28 to 20 may have been reasonably easy but as you get lower, it becomes harder and harder to get handicap reductions. For a child, a common plateau occurs when they cannot hit the ball any further but in most cases we need to wait for a child to get stronger before worrying about hitting the ball further.

In relation to growth spurts, there may also be long periods of no growth! During these periods, a child’s strength may not increase so not increasing driving distance over a 6 month period is often NOT an issue. Please allow your child to grow before getting too concerned over driving distance!

For me, this is a great example of times when ‘development’ supersedes ‘instant success’. For sure, there may be no instant successes of hitting the ball further or improving chipping technique….but other valuable life skills can be developed during this time such as work ethic, team work and important social skills to name a few. I want to create well rounded individuals that love golf and are fit for lifelong participation in sport. Hence I am not worried, and neither you should be, if your child hits a plateau and is struggling to hit the ball further or improve their chipping technique. It’s about more than just golf!

3. COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT VERSUS MOTOR DEVELOPMENT

In layman terms, research has shown that a child’s movement skills are heavily related to their ability to process information. In relation to this, it is common that young children can sometimes not grasp new movements but we sometimes have to allow time for their mental abilities to improve before expecting any changes in movement. Despite the fact they are often more interested in looking at the clouds than your advice, the mental skills of a child will often not allow any movement improvement. So please, give them time and do not expect a child who cannot complete their times tables to correctly follow your in depth technical instruction!

SUMMARY

In summary, the development of children is a highly diverse process but I hope this has provided you with an insight into SOME of the reasons why children may not always be improving at the rate you expect. At RBSOG Junior Academy, I am  heavily focussed on long term development and are continually seeing the bigger picture as opposed to getting overly obsessed with ‘instant success’ or worrying about ‘short term failures’.

To finish, there is nothing wrong with wanting your child to be the best golfer in the world (importantly they must want it also), however understand that they have 20+ years to achieve this and do not get blinded by ‘short term failures’ – instead, embrace the challenges that your child will face and allow them to become the best they can!

 

Getting better is not an overnight process...

When it comes to golf, most players want that secret magical elixir that will magically transform their game. Well the only way to get better is to humble yourself to the fact that it's a going to be a long and hard journey. This is the path that Lawrence Neloms decided to take.

I've worked consistently with Lawrence for the past 3 years and when we began this journey, Lawrence had a horrendous slice that was draining yards, consistency and confidence from his game. His scores where somewhere between mid 90's to mid 100's. We pieced things together from the onset to get his fundamentals sound (ball position and  alignment).  Once those items were in place, we fought kinematic sequencing issues. Coming from the top at the beginning of his downswing instead of starting his downswing from the pelvis.

We worked and worked until we discovered that it was not Lawrence didn't understand, on the contrary, he has a outstanding working knowledge of the swing and how it relates to his body, what we discovered was that his muscle stabilization in certain areas. I gave Lawrence a TPI assessment and from that point, the results have been short of amazing.

Now Lawrence is scoring in the mid to low 70's, incorporating proper practice with the K-VEST, FlightScope Launch Monitor, TPI exercises and yoga.

So, if you're really ready to get better, it's going to take time, humility, sweat, patience and perseverance!

You want to hit it farther??? Swing and train like the ladies on the LPGA....

Players are looking to hit it farther and farther, now that courses are getting longer. How are they acheiving this? By getting a new driver with a lower loft and stiffer shaft, which by the way will have you hitting it even shorter! 

If you want to hit it farther increase your launch angle... Increase my launch angle?? What the??? Well numbers bear out the truth, that the LPGA launch the ball around +2 to +3 degrees, which means that they're hitting up on the ball at the moment of contact, where as the average PGA Tour player is at -1 degree at impact. The PGA tour player has chosen control over power!

The ladies on the LPGA get the most with less... They hit the ball farther with less mass and speed than a man. The ladies on average 94 miles an hour swing speed with the driver and hits is about 235 yards on average.

The ladies secret... The ladies have the great ability to create torque because they can turn better than men, and that's why you see a lot of long swings on the LPGA.  Having a strong lower body can allow you to develop more speed, which translates into distance! Increasing ones flexibility will also help in your quest for distance. The more torque you can create by your upper body turning against your lower will increase your rotational speed.

So, if you want it to go farther, get your launch angle up and increase your flexibility!

 

Long Term Athletic Development for Junior Golfers

Gone are the days of putting your child in the junior golf program that was designed as modified day care. There are now facilities designed solely to turn athletes into golfers. On the PGA Tour now look at the likes of Dustin Johnson, Keegan Bradley, Peter Uihlein and Brooks Koepka. Needless to say there countless others out there on all of the professional tours.

Junior golf training is being tied into LTAD (Long Term Athletic Development) - describes the life long athletic performance development model originally coined by Istvan Balyi in 1990. He is acknowledged worldwide as an expert in LTAD and the periodization of training plans.

LTAD is a useful guide that helps develop golfers from pre-puberty to retirement. The approach focuses on having kids perform age-appropriate skill acquisition drills to maximize athletic potential. 

How much time is required to develop expertise?? 10 years...The 10 years and at least 10,000 of training for an athlete to reach elite levels in most sports and 20 years for golf.

Having a young child participate in other sports or activities at an early age (under 10 years old) is essential to their development. 

Early specialization in sports where children must excel at an early age to compete at an early age: Gymnastics, Figure Skating and Diving to name a few. Late Specialization sports where professional athletes spend more time than 10 years honing skills before going to the highest level. Golf and most team sports (Baseball, Basketball, Soccer, Football, etc)

So in summary, having your child in multiple activities is critical in their athletic development, especially if they are longing to be an elite golfer in the future!

These guys are really that good!!!!!!!!!!!

Over the past 30 some odd years I have had the opportunity of watching the best players in the world, from either inside or outside of the ropes. From playing with Bob Wynn at Lake Chabot in the late 80's to watching the likes of John Senden, DA Points, Carl Pettersson, Charles Howell III and Kevin Chappell at the Shell Houston Open.

From inside the ropes over the past 4 years I have noticed first hand that these players are exceptional in all areas of the game. They all drive it long and straight with unyielding confidence! Laser like irons, deadly wedges. Putting is the true separator! 

The way these guys roll putts is really uncanny! From reading to speed control, what they can do on the greens is wizardly, so if you really want to be an elite level player, ball striking is all well and good, but work on your putting to where you're more feared on the green then on the tee box!

Lag putting giving you more 3-putts then not...

The quickest way to lower your scores by a couple of shots a round is to improve your short game. Think about your last round of golf and think about how many three putts you had. If we can eliminate the three putts from our round obviously our score will go down. We can work to eliminate these three putts by working on our lag putting.   I believe in the old saying “aim small and miss small”.

Okay so we have picked out our target now it is time to hit the putt. Stand a little taller in order to allow your body to make the longer stroke necessary. Too many times I see someone take the putter back too short and try to really speed up coming through the ball in order to hit the ball hard enough to get it to the hole. This generates what is called a “Jab” stroke or “stabbing at the putt”. If we need to have the ball go farther, make a longer back swing with the putter.

Think about trying to keep the stroke as smooth as possible coming through, feeling almost like a pendulum motion. This will help us build repeatable strokes giving us a good feel for how far we need to take.

A drill to Improve Lag Putting:

  • Get three balls and set up in the middle of the putting green.
  • Hit the first putt somewhere between where you are and the edge of the putting green.
  • With the next ball try to get it between the first ball and the edge of the putting green.
  • With the third ball we need to get it between the second ball and the edge of the putting green.

Repeat this drill going in different directions on the putting green to help get the feeling between uphill and downhill puts.

Once we get really good at three balls try adding additional balls to up the challenge!

 

How good is your balance??

How many times have you taken a swing and have not been able sustain your follow through? You attribute to your swing, but you need to travel lower. More often than not your balance is not in the correct place.

When hitting shots, you want to make sure that your weight is centered on your arch. Not the balls or heel of your feet. If your weight is on the balls of your feet (Because you're too far from the ball) as you address the ball, your hips will be prohibited. The result is that you'll straighten yourself up in your downswing.

If your weight is on your heels (Because you're too close to the ball) as you address the ball, when the swing begins, you will continue to fall backwards on your follow through. The resultant shot will very rarely find the target with the distance or accuracy required.

If you're suffering from either case, in your setup make sure that you set the club first behind the ball. Next step into the shot to where you can feel your weight equally on your quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteus. 

Master your short game to lower your scores...

One of the keys of playing good golf is to better your short game! Look at any good player (amateur or tour professional) regardless of gender, size and age. They find a way to get the ball in the hole with the least amount of strokes. Hitting their pitch and chips tight to the stick!

How can this be accomplished you're asking??? Well FlightScope can help you master your distances. FlightScope can give you precise data on carry / total distance, height, club head speed, spin and roll on pitches.

A custom short game combine can be setup using the X2 skills application to test you to determine which distances we need to enhance. So if you're ready to get better, embrace technology and let FlightScope help you get better.

For more information on FlightScope, go onto their website... www.flightscope.com 

No short cuts to success....

In golf there are no short cuts to success. How many times have you heard, "This will give you 20 extra yards in no time..." You buy it, try it, curse it, then throw it away. 

In order for you to reach your true potential you have to create a plan with your golf professional,  but more importantly you have to be dedicated and diligent to stick with it when times get tough and you want to tinker. Persevere through the tough times, to revel in success!

 

Let's start getting you ready for the season

 

Well, here's a great place to start... Your grip! By making sure your hands are placed on the club correctly to ensure correct setting of the club, releasing of the club at impact and most importantly squaring the face at impact.

Tip.... Make sure your palms are parallel to the club face regardless of the style of grip that you choose.

A first since 1971

PARKS AND WOODS BECOME FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN DUO ON TOUR SINCE 1971

For the first time since 1971, the LPGA Tour will have two African American players on Tour at the same time. Sadena Parks and Cheyenne Woods will become only the fifth and sixth African Americans in LPGA history when both tee it up on Wednesday to start the season. The last African American player to play on the LPGA Tour was Shasta Averyhardt in 2011.

Parks earned Tour status via a fourth place finish on the Symetra Tour – Road to the LPGA money list in a season that included two wins. Woods earned her card via a spectacular comeback at the LPGA Qualifying School. After opening with a 4-under 68, Woods shot an uncharacteristic 7-over 79 in the second round and fell into a tie for 80th. But she responded with three straight rounds under par – 67, 71, and 70 – to finish in a tie for 11th and earn her Tour card. 

African Americans on the LPGA Tour

Cheyenne Woods (2015)
Sadena Parks (2015)
Shasta Averyhardt (2011)
LaRee Sugg (1995-1997; 2000-2001)
Renee Powell (1967-1980)
Althea Gibson (1964-1971)

*Andia Winslow played as a sponsor exemption in the 2006 Ginn Clubs & Resorts Open

What core stability can give you in your golf swing...

You want to play better golf and for some strange reason your own methods are not working. Listening to your golf buddies tell you that golf fitness is over rated, that's it's just for the pros  and watching drown in the abyss of how they lack preparation pre and post round...

Well here's a true on going story with positive results... I've been working with a couple of female players from Pecan Grove Plantation Country Club with swing maintenance for the last few seasons, but this last session I noticed huge positive changes in their ability to create separation between torso and pelvis in transition. The issue with both ladies was poor lower quarter mobility, more specifically inhibited pelvic rotation. Both were given some TPI specific exercises targeting that area. They worked on them beginning last fall and the results were astounding! 

Using V1 video and FlightScope, I was able to see clear separation and proper sequencing on the downswing. The club was much more out in front with ball speed and distance increases!

I'll keep you posted on their progress, but if you're interested and want to learn more about TPI and how your body affects your swing, go onto www.mytpi.com

Get into golf shape this year....

Is this the year that you want to play better golf? How are you going about to achieve this goal? Equipment is all well and good, but getting your body into golf shape is even a better idea. Finding out how your body affects your golf swing is crucial in succeeding!

Trying to get into positions that the Tour Pro's is great, but you've got to understand that these players are spending countless hours on the course, practice ground and the GYM honing their bodies to be more flexible and supple. So if you think that you can just put the club in a certain position in a practice swing and think that you'll be able to perform that position consistently, your really doing more harm than good!

If you're really serious about wanting to get better, give me a call or go onto the Titleist Performance Institute website at www.mytpi.com for more information.

Titleist 915 OMG!!!!!

Late last year Titleist launched the 915 line of driver, fairway metals and hybrids. (http://www.titleist.com) When I mean launch, I mean launch! With the entire complement of clubs, I'm hitting the ball farther then ever. It also helps to be properly fit. 

My Titleist rep and I spent at least an hour going through the fitting process of determining the correct loft, shaft and flex to maximize what talent I have left...LOL Needless to say it's spot on the money!

The moral of this story is.... even if you don't go with Titleist, make sure you get a proper fitting to make sure that the clubs your purchasing are suitable for you!

If you have any questions at anytime, just give me a shout and I'll be more than happy to help.

2015 Goals

Now that we're into 2015, what are your golf goals for the year? It's far better to have a plan and adjust as need be, then failing to plan at all.....

If you need help in establishing your 2015 goals, let's get together and we'll make it happen!

Something to think about...

Welcome!

Hello and welcome! This is a first for me personally and professionally writing a blog. I'll do my best to keep you informed in the world of golf regarding technology, instruction, travel and yes even instruction!!!

Stay tuned for more!