A Recipe for Junior Development

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A Recipe for Junior Development

For many young sports stars of the future, emulating their heroes is their ultimate dream. The sheer admiration of these sporting accolades by their heroes is enough to encourage them to play the game. This admiration, if sustained, is a great attribute to help drive the junior golfer into continuing their development in order to obtain that tour player status. Therefore, the support from the parent can be a formidable weapon in a junior golfers’ arsenal. However, if that role is performed incorrectly, it can have a devastating effect on the chances of the junior reaching their full potential. It could lead to early burnout or dropout from the sport. It is imperative that parents educate themselves on correct junior development.

This article will cover some of the important factors that are required to help with developing a well-rounded and happy junior player. At the IMG Academy, the total development of our athletes is of paramount importance and we work tirelessly to create total athletes within our sport programs.

The way in which both amateurs and elite athletes practice is very different. Parents of junior athletes and amateurs themselves tend to believe that the way to be like an elite player is to train like an elite player. This is incorrect. The way that junior golfers and amateurs should train is that of what elite players used to train like, when they were younger.

By training like professionals our expectations can become unrealistic which may lead to a feeling of confidence. A way of developing a well-rounded player is suggested in something called the DMSP (Cote & Haye 2002) which stands for the Developmental Model of Sports Participation. It emphasizes the importance of appropriate training patterns, activities and social influences within long-term engagement of playing different sports.

There are 8 features that should be present in positive junior development.

Physical and Psychological safety – The athlete – coach relationship must be respectful from the coach’s side as the coach’s role can give a better sense of physical self-worth and competence to the athlete.

Appropriate Structure – Activities that are structured correctly allow for positive, well-adjusted and optimistic juniors.

Supportive relationships – A strong support network is vital in any development. Good communication and connectedness. A good coach can motivate, increase enjoyment and improve a players’ perceived competence.

Opportunities to belong –A feeling of social engagement helps to motivate a junior golfer. Making friends and being part of a team which has a sense of unity.

Positive Social norms – Encouraging juniors to play different sports allows them to develop values. These may include fair play, sportsmanship, teamwork, empathy and self-control.

Supporting Empowerment – Helping your junior to improve their autonomy allows them to choose for themselves the level of involvement in the sport. This improves intrinsic motivation, meaning that they want to win for themselves and because they enjoy competition or for the love of the game.

Skills Building – Being able to learn through new experiences allows for personal growth and developing new skills and helps to improve interaction with other people.

Family, School and Community – Combining all these three elements: positive family support, school’s sports to help with engagement with friends and social acceptance and being part of a community which encourages all help to drive a junior’s involvement in sport.

The final piece of this is time. Give your junior golfer time to improve, time to love the game and you will see a happy, engaged and focused junior golfer embrace this game and will play because they want to.

By noting some of the factors listed above you will give your junior golfer a great psychological underpinning for their lifetime of learning. It is something that they may well thank you for when they are older.

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