Over the last number of years I have been lucky enough to be exposed to various different junior coaching programs across the world including the good the bad and the ugly. During that time I have had the opportunity to study, learn and decide for myself what I really think is the best way to raise our young golfers and develop them to be the best golfer they can be. I have long since abandoned the old school idea of juniors lining up on a range and beating balls until their hands fall off, while having a two minute intervention from a coach to say their grip was all wrong. To me this approach to golf coaching is archaic and more importantly destructive.
Those that do coach in this manner I would first of all ask do your kids enjoy this type of coaching? Secondly are they physically strong enough to swing the club the way you are instructing them to swing it? It is these very questions that lead me to the LTAD model prescribed by TPI (Titleist Performance Institute). First of all LTAD stands for Long term Athletic Development. Within that phrase the most important word I would pick out is “Athletic” for the simple reason that if you look at the top 10 players in the world at the moment you will see almost every one of them are athletes and not just golfers. Rory Mcilroy, Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott and Dustin Johnson to name a few, all strong and powerful athletes, most of whom have played several sports growing up.
As part of TPI’s Junior Golf program’s children not only learn golf skills but they also develop other sports skills and also functional movement skills depending on their developmental age. As the children make progress in both their golf and physical development they begin to advance through the various phases of the program. Each level will focus on different golf, athletic and physical skills depending on the phase of development that the child is in.
In my experience this is without doubt the future of junior instruction. The more children that become part of this type of program the more they will enjoy it and want to stay in the game. This should be our overall goal, get and keep as many people as possible into the game and keep them in the game.