In the modern world of youth sports, it seems like we hear and see as many negative stories about parenting scenarios as we do positive ones. Competition for scholarships, travel expenses and the desire to be a professional athlete causes some parents to push their children. While there is a certain level of motivation each young child needs in order to learn about hard work and success, there is one factor that must remain for any child playing a sport; it must always be fun.
Don’t get me wrong, rarely is a bad round or losing a tournament going to be fun, but the day in and day out process must be something the young girls enjoy and get excited about it. Here is some practical advice that parents of girls who love golf may find useful as they strive to find the balance between keeping the game fun while helping their daughter improve.
Find a good coach that your daughter feels comfortable around and looks forward to seeing. The strength of the relationship formed between coach and student is just as important as the coach’s ranking. Find a coach that will work with your daughter on all areas of her game, not just swing instruction. Ask other junior golf parents for coaches who have good reputations with junior golfers, particularly junior girls. A good junior golf instructor will have lots of fun teaching aids and games to keep the player excited and engaged.
Keep her involved in group settings. Girls will always have a tendency to thrive and find comfort in group settings, especially with other girls of similar age and skill level. Many young girls quit playing golf once they have to start practicing on their own or only have a coach or parent with them.
Give her incentives to work hard. While there is some debate about always offering rewards as incentives for achievement, it is still a great way to keep a young girl excited about working hard and improving. If you are out practicing with your daughter, set a goal for a drill and provide a small incentive for reaching that goal. Example: Make 10 three foot putts in a row, get ice cream on the way home. This will teach your daughter some great goal setting skills and help her practice with a purpose.
Allow her to determine her own golf schedule. Let your daughter have some input into planning out her week of practice and lessons, as well as her schedule of tournaments and camps. This will help you get a better idea of how much time she wants to spend on golf. This will also give her some ownership of her game and goals.
Don’t force her to play competitively. Not every young girl has the desire to play golf competitively. While many lifelong skills can be learned from competition, if it is forced on a girl it may discourage her from wanting to play at all. Let your daughter decide how competitive she wants to be. The important thing is that she stays involved in the game and enjoys it.
Keep your daughter involved in other sports and activities. Yes, we unfortunately live in a world of specialization and rarely see multi sport athletes beyond middle school age, but do what you can to keep your daughter involved in other sports or activities as long as possible. There will more than likely come a time where you need to narrow it down to just one sport but the athleticism a young girl can develop from playing other sports can mean as much as hours spent practicing golf. Even if your daughter only wants to play golf, as parents, try to keep them from burning out by keeping them active in other sports or activities (music, art, school groups, volunteer work).
Brandi Jackson had a stellar collegiate career at Furman University, then she went on to play professionally for 8 years on the LPGA and Symetra Tour. In 2012 Brandi was inducted into the Furman University Athletic Hall of Fame and she serves on the Board of Directors for The Blade Jr Classic. She runs her own business out of Greenville, South Carolina where she consults junior golf families all over the world on competitive junior golf and the college recruiting process. For more information on Brandi Jackson visit her website at www.brandijacksongolf.com and follow her on Twitter @bjacksongolf.