Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Clock and the letters V, Y, L and A of Junior Jr. Golf

How these can build a solid foundation for years of enjoyment with your child

If your anything like my wife and myself, you have been reading to you child regularly for some time. One of the first type of books that we picked up where the ABC’s books, you know the books about the ABC’s of super hero’s, the ABC’s of Dora or the ABC’s of Golf, etc. Inevitable your child has seen and probably even learned all the letters in the alphabet; he/she has the ability to recognize letter shapes because of the repetition that has been reinforced by you as a parent and by school/daycare. So why not take the letters that they have learned already and are able to recognize, and utilize this skill set for teaching your child the basics of golf? Sounds great right? You bet cha…

But before I teach you how the clock, a V, Y, L and A can help you teach junior golf, remember that children love to learn and they learn best when the activity if FUN, non-threatening and when they receive a great deal of encouragement and positive reinforcement! Find what your child is doing right and positively reinforce that. Build in the affirmation.

So what is the V of Junior Jr. golf and why should we start here? The V’s represent the beginning foundation of golf and can be considered one the most important components that your child can learn at an early age. This is something that can be tedious and boring for your child as well, so remember introduce this and continually reinforce it over time to build a solid grip.

Putting Grip:
The letter V is important when referring to the grip and its importance.
• Place your child’s left hand on the end of the grip with the left thumb slightly to the left and on the top of the shaft. The thumb and index finger will form a V and the bottom of the V should point towards the outside to middle of the left shoulder.
• Slide your child’s right hand down the shaft with the right thumb slightly to the right and on top of the shaft. The thumb and index finger will form a V and the bottom of the V should point towards the outside to middle of the right shoulder.
• The right thumb should be slightly further down the shaft than the left thumb and the two thumbs should run parallel with one another

Chipping, Pitching and Full Swing Grip:
The letter V is important when referring to the grip and its importance.
• Place your child’s left hand on the end of the grip with the left thumb slightly to the right and on the top of the shaft. The thumb and index finger will form a V and the bottom of the V should point towards the inside of the right shoulder.
• Slide your child’s right hand down the shaft with the right thumb slightly to the right and on top of the shaft. The thumb and index finger will form a V and the bottom of the V should point towards the middle of the right shoulder.
• The palm of the right hand should cover your child’s left thumb

So what is the Y of Junior Jr. golf? The Y represents the starting point for putting, chipping, pitching and the full swing. If you could imagine the child’s two arms extending down from their shoulders to a point in the exact middle of their stance that is should width apart, or slightly less, or slightly more depending on shot being played, then the extension of a plastic club or junior club to the ground, you would have a Y and the hands would be in the 6 o’clock position when referencing a clock position. From here forward when reference the clock positions we are talking about the position of the hands within the swing.

Putting:

For putting, put the ball in the middle of the stance and keep the Y in tact and take the hands back to the 7 o’clock position and sweep through the ball and finish at the 5:00 position sending the ball towards its target.

Chipping:

For chipping, the stance is slightly less than shoulder width apart and the ball is position towards the back of the stance. With the Y in tact take the hand from the 6 o’clock position back to the 8 o’clock position without breaking the Y and sweep the club through the 6 o’clock position while stopping the hands at the 4 o’clock position sending the ball towards its target.

Pitching:

Pitching is where we introduce the A and L of golf to your child. Let’s start with the A. Standing with the feet shoulder width apart, making a capital A with the legs. Start with the Y and the hands in the 6 o’clock position, from there take the hands to the 9 o’clock position. As you complete this task your child should have made an L with the left arm and hands extending back and they should be parallel with the ground and the club pointing up and slightly back forming and the letter L, from that position sweep through the 6 o’clock position to the 3 o’clock position forming a backwards L in the follow through. Once this is accomplished with out the use of a ball, slowly introduce a larger/softer ball for the child to practice with.

Full Swing:

Have your child start by standing with the feet slightly more than shoulder width apart and forming the letter A with the legs. Start with the Y and the hands in the 6 o’clock position, from there take the hands to the 10 o’clock position. This position can be referred as the “Power L” position, the hands and arms have gone past the parallel position in relation to the ground. From that position sweep through the 6 o’clock position up to the 2 o’clock position where the body, chest and hips are facing/pointing towards the target, again practice this before introducing a ball, when you decide to introduce a ball consider a large/softer ball where your child will not get hurt hitting it.

Congratulations and there you have it, the basics of golf for the Junior Jr. and how a clock, and the letters, V, Y, A and L can lead to learning the basics of golf the blueprintGolf way!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Finding the Tiger in Your Child



“Developing a relationship with your child based on love and respect is a prerequisite for nurturing his or her natural curiosity. A good environment promotes trust and paves the for communication, the foundation for learning. It all begins with the parents desire to make the child’s life better, to enhance his or her probability of success in life”. (Earl Woods)

We have all witnessed one of the greatest golfers ever in Tiger Woods and we all should very fortunate to be able to watch such a talent in golf and a skilled artist in the ability to rise to the occasion and create peak performance when he needs it. Tiger’s ability to do this was not by mistake. Earl Woods had a plan in place that first started with love and respect for his child, Tiger.

The lessons that Earl Woods and Tigers mother taught him made a difference in his life and well as the life of so many people Tiger has touched. Without that solid foundation that both his parents contributed to building, no question Tiger Woods as we know him today would not be the same; Earl Woods raised a winner in life and the vehicle that he chose to introduce him to the world is golf. At blueprintgolf we are very grateful to be able to witness it first hand!

How can you help create peak performance in your children to excel in golf and more importantly to excel in life? The answer to that is not as easy as picking up a blueprint that shows you step by step on how to do this. At first you must understand that children by in large a imprinted very easily. What does imprint mean? Imprint by definition means “to establish or impress firmly in the mind”. Children between the ages of 4-7 are extremely susceptible to being influenced by parents, peers, teachers, coaches and people that they come in contact with on a daily basis. Children are very vulnerable at this stage; you can easily influence and create a life time of habits both good and bad for your child. As any parent knows, almost all that responsibility falls upon the parents of the child, especially the influence of the father.

Earl Woods was trained as a green beret, his mother was fluent in the teachings of Buddhism, combine the two and the discipline of the parents and you can understand why so many tour players never really have a shot when they tee it up with him in a tournament. Earl Woods introduced Tiger to golf at a very early age, he would sit Tiger in his high chair in the garage and Tiger would watch his dad hit balls into the net. What Earl Woods understood was that children learn by observation and imitation, and before he knew it, Tiger was imitating his golf swing.

Have you ever watched the father/son golf tournament that takes place in Florida during the off season on TV? Most of the touring pros have children who are very good at golf. That is not by mistake, they are influenced by their surroundings growing up and their fathers teachings. Do they have an advantage? Sure they do, they have a parent/teacher/coach who has invested the time to understanding what it takes in themselves first to become better performers, then those habits are transferred to the child during the critical ages from 4-7 and are continually built upon as they progress in golf and life.

If you too play golf, you can’t help but remember the tremendous satisfaction and joy of hitting solid golf shots and playing to your potential. This is fact is one of the strategies for successfully implementing a blueprintgolf foundation for creating peak performance for your child and you as well, continue too focus on the things that you and your child do well, build in affirmations. Earl Woods said “Never mention the word failure. Always accentuate the positive. “I like the way you swing the club. It won’t be long before you are hitting it a ton!” Positive reinforcement and emphasis on the need to practice are a winning combination”. What is right about your child’s grip, stance, posture, ball position and more importantly at a younger age focusing where they want to hit the ball and seeing the flight of the ball to the target. When putting, draw a picture in the mind of the ball going towards the hole and falling in. It may seem simple yet strategically applying this process is key to having a strong junior golfer and creating a great mental game. Adult and junior golfers are often led down a path of learning that is completely opposite to what's best for them and they lose touch with this effortless fun.

Let me ask you a very simple question. If you had a choice would you rather play carefree, fearless golf with absolutely enjoying the game and all that is has to offer, or play serious, deeply focused mechanical golf monitoring your swing during every round? Let me be clear on this point, success can be achieved at both levels, but playing to your true potential is throwing the mechanical process out the window and focusing on the process, staying in the moment and being target oriented. One of the biggest mistakes made by players at every level is trying too hard, and that often translates into not having fun. You must unlock and understand the level of effort needed, there is a balance of not trying enough and trying too much, once you find that balance duplicating this process is the key to unlocking your potential and that of your child’s potential! Then as you introduce new techniques and approaches, keeping this process intact with your child as he/she continues to learn is essential for peak performance growth.

How do you tap into this? Easy, when you hit a shot on the range or on the golf course ask yourself a simple question; What is it that I did right or what your child did right on that shot and continually repeat this process as you reach a higher level. Too many golfers go down the road of analyzing what they are doing wrong and trying to correct it, as opposed to finding what is right and building on that, remember there are a million ways to do things wrong. This applies to your child in the same way no matter what the task may be; continually reinforcing what they are doing right helps to create peak performance and CONFIDENCE. Continually focusing on what they are not doing has an adverse effect and severely diminishes self esteem, takes the fun out of it, reduces confidence and performance in general, now and unfortunately later in life!

“The great thing about golf is that it can be a vehicle to teach us about life. The by products of golf are integrity, responsibility and patience. The game builds character, and it can start with a plastic ball and club placed in the child’s crib. Babies learn rapidly. They will associate the club with the ball and make hitting the ball a game. They are learning the framework and basics of a game without any outside influences.” (Earl Woods).

Enjoy the game with you children and it will give you memories that can last a lifetime!