Help your child make a plan and set goals

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As your young golfer progresses in their development under the guidance of a PGA coach, it is imperative to understand some of the key factors that lead to long term success.

Goal setting and planning is a critical area as your child progresses through the Play to Improve and Play to Compete stages of the American Developmental Model. Young children may indeed have goals, but children ages 3 to 11 should focus more on exploring play and developing motor skills.

After some initial “testing” of skills and an assessment of the student’s mental and emotional strengths and weaknesses, it is time to start setting short- and medium-term goals; 3, 6, 9 and 12 months are points in the process where we re-evaluate the initial goals.

Longer-term goals, such as a first year high school student seeking a college scholarship, remain quite broad.

Short and medium term goals are building blocks for achieving long term goals and should all be viewed as SMART goals.

Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.

It may also be helpful to segment goals into three areas: mechanical / technical, mental / emotional, game / scoring.

Once goals are set, they should never be set in stone. The game of golf is very dynamic with many moving parts just like the life of a pre-teen or teenager, so be realistic about the need for flexibility in this process. This does not mean that adjustments are made for a student who is not doing the “job” or who goes astray, but rather for life situations that arise or other areas that may require more attention than golf, like school.

After setting goals, planning begins. The most important thing during the planning phase is to learn the student’s schedule and in particular the time realistically available to work on their game. It is essential to be realistic about what is possible. from the point of view of practice and to estimate the time as a guide for a way forward.

In-person lesson time is important, whether it’s 1, 2 or more hours per week, but what is even more critical is how much time a student spends on themselves. Simply put, you can’t go too far without sticking to the plan your coach has developed and taking responsibility for your own success.

Communication with your coach throughout this process is also essential, but this is a topic for a future article.

Finally, fun should always be the centerpiece of your trip. Even though the word “work” has been mentioned a few times in this article, it certainly shouldn’t be a negative word.

Work hard and have fun!


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