A typical Sunday morning routine I am exposed to is seeing parents bring their young kids to the range for the first time. From as young as 2 years old, kids are being introduced to golf, which is a great start!
But it is almost comical watching these parents try and properly instruct their kids with golf techniques at such a young age. As people walk by and say “Aw, isn’t that cute” it reminds me of how being introduced to golf (or any sport) is a very challenging thing to do properly. Golf must be introduced in the right way.
“Cute” is a four letter word which is often tossed around in an inappropriate way in regard to young kids and sport. Instead of starting out in golf being cute, this involvement needs to be regarded in terms of encouragement, awe and support.
Too often we look at the child’s involvement from our standpoint and not theirs. The only thing children can and should focus on, at this point, is having a good time instead of trying to be a perfect little golfer. This early formative experience will either contribute to your child’s ongoing love for golf or not. This time is crucial and detrimental and must be approached properly.
I just recently listened to this Ted Talk by Sarah Curtis and it is what I have always believed to be true. She is explaining how starting out in school with the introduction of play is a huge key factor in the success of children long term. It’s like she took the ideas out of my head. I was introduced to this Ted Talk by PGA Professional and child development guru Kate Tempesta who is the creator of the Early Birdies Program that I deliver to my students.
In this Ted Talk, Sarah Curtis quotes Evelyn Beyer, an ECE Specialist who said, “Young Children are often appealing and amusing, but they are more than “cute”; they are real.”
The problem with saying the word “cute” demeans what the true experience of coaching kids actually is. I coach Early Birdies, which is introducing young kids ages 2-5 into the game of golf, and I contend that these are some of the most outgoing, adaptable students that I have. While yes, they are cute, but in the midst of developing their personalities, they are so much more than just cute kids hitting golf balls. At these early ages, children are developing at such a rapid pace and scientists have proven that we become who we are in the world by the age of 5. I love that I have the privilege to be part of this early childhood development and that I can also encourage parents in a positive reinforcement way in terms of sport. If a child can play in sports, it offers the best possible way for a kids to learn and want to be involved in more sports in the future.
Research has shown over and over again that all children need to PLAY. It is a survival skill and needs to be cultivated. Play allows a child to have an idea and follow through with this vision. While play is highly important, kids cannot be left alone to teach themselves and be “let loose” in golf. There is an essential presence needed and that is of the coach. Play in the presence of the coach is essential as the response and working through challenges together allows the child to teach themselves how to learn, with a coach’s guidance.
A play-based approach to Golf Introduction teaches children how to approach experience and affirms that every experience is worthy of respect and encouragement. It is so important that parents build trust in coaches right away so that children can begin their involvement with sports right way as this is the best way to self expression and learning at such a young age.
So parents. next time you are bringing your young children to the range, let them explore and learn through PLAY and allow yourself to act just as an encourager and catalyst to your child’s involvement in Golf.