The Kenya Golf Union has partnered with the U.S. Kids Golf Foundation to improve the capacity of local coaches in training children. Under the partnership more than 40 local coaches were trained in Nairobi last week and are now part of the U.S. Kids Golf international network of certified coaches, a training that is recognized by both the PGA and LPGA.
T-OFF News spoke to John Bryan, the Vice President of the U.S. Kids Golf Coaches Institute who identified the following gaps in the existing junior golf programmes:
Wrong teaching methods
There’s a tendency for coaches to over teach. This is because the coaches know so much so they try to impart detailed skills within a short period. Over coaching i.e. giving kids more than they can absorb makes them lose interest in the sport. Give children just a little in every session. Demonstrate and let them go and practice the skill on their own. At the introductory stage, focus only on having fun and not the technical aspects of the game.
Lack of a structured curriculum
Children are motivated to learn when there’s a clear pathway. It is important to create a challenge to have the children aspire towards realizing specific goals. Always provide opportunities for children to develop. In our programme, we have 10 levels through which the children are taken through. We insist on fun-based learning as kids move through the levels.
Training children is a very delicate process. Success is not determined by how knowledgeable the coach is. It boils down to passion for children. Children should be handled with a lot of care therefore the coach must have a heart for kids so that you get down to their level. The fact that one has played at the highest level of the game as a professional doesn’t automatically mean he/she can handle children effectively. Anyone, whether a professional or an amateur can make a good children coach but only if you earn the trust of the children.
Using wrong equipment Most of the children are introduced to the game without going through the technical aspects of club fitting. As a result, the clubs are customized without taking into consideration the child’s technical data. Using wrong equipment affects the child’s swing due to the disproportionate weight and length of the club. For example, based on the data we have gathered over time, the length of the driver should not exceed two thirds of the child’s height! There’s need for progressive fitting as kids develop the skill at different levels.