In the last 10 years, there has been a dramatic shift in the way juniors are developed. For many years, junior golfers have been taught with the same mentality as adults, both in philosophy and methodology. "Keep your head down" and "stay balanced in your finish" are often thoughts given to young golfers while learning the game.
The one overwhelming difference when it comes to instruction for juniors in comparison to adults is that juniors are still developing! Because of this fact, we have to take a different approach to help that junior develop into the best athlete he or she can be.
One of the key pieces to understand when working with junior athletes is what you can develop during appropriate times in their development stages. These are most commonly referred to as windows of opportunity. They're specific times in the juniors' lives when they're more susceptible to heightened periods of adaptations.
The easiest way to measure a junior and predict when these windows are open is to take periodic height measurements to determine the junior's velocity of growth. For example, during the speed window, have your junior swing as fast as he or she can, even if he or she falls off-balance! Here's one of my favorite drills for junior golfers.
One of my all-time favorite drills to do with my juniors comes directly from the age-old movie Happy Gilmore. Allowing juniors to make "Happy Gilmore Swings" does a number of positive things for their development:
1 Teaches juniors proper weight shift from trail leg to lead leg
2 Helps juniors to develop excellent timing
3 Promotes proper coordination of their bodies in the golf swing
4 Generates greater speed in their swings
5 And, finally, and most importantly, it's fun for them!
Joseph DiChiara, PGA, is a Performance Coaching Specialist and Founder of Nexus Golf, www.nxs-golf.com. He's also a Golf Tips Magazine Youth Advisory Board Member. Contact DiChiara at[email protected].