“Knowing how to correct a slice is very cool and important, but not nearly as important as being a “hole model” (role model to juniors). The golf coach will be viewed as a hole model even if he or she doesn’t want to be. Any coach that spends time with a young person will be viewed as a hole model. It comes with the job - Rick Grayson
This is an excerpt from Rick Grayson’s new book “Inspire Junior Golf”. I am doing a book club with my staff and this is our book for this one and what an important topic this is. Our goal is to find at least 3 ideas that we can implement into our current program and improve it and we ended up with about 10. I just wanted to give my review on this wonderful book and also highlight some areas that might help us all as coaches, players and parents. I happen to be 2 of the 3 as I am a coach to many juniors and I am a parent to an 11-year-old junior golfer that is playing tournaments so this book spoke to me in many different ways.
As an overview, this book is great from many different aspects no matter where you are with your current program. It tells you how to start a junior golf program, the importance of a junior golf program, where to find the kids and many ways to introduce them to golf. the importance and process of clubfitting is also huge when it comes to juniors and Rick nails it. It also gives you great ideas on how to improve an already successful program by adding games, practice plans and understanding the kids that you are teaching and coaching. I like how it ties something for all levels of juniors….the new junior, introducing girls and boys and the elite junior as well. Mr. Grayson also gives you great insight on college recruiting and the process that we all need to know to give your player the best chance to find a spot on a college team. I would call this book the “Blueprint to Your Junior Golf Goals.”
So I want to highlight 4 chapters that I think are important and what we can learn from them.
Chapter 1 : The Benefit for kids
Grayson says,”Golf is one of the few sports in which you don’t play on an organized team until you are in the ninth grade.” He believes that team sports offer the greatest potential for individual growth of any organized activity in our society.” Here are the six ingredients team sports provide – 1.teachability 2.character 3.integrity 4.perserverance 5.positive attitude 6. self-esteem.
How many of you have used life skills with terms and definitions to encourage the kids while they learn. Golf is life and this is a great place to start with any program.
chapter 15 Thinking outside the box
This chapter is full of great ideas to make your junior golf program more exciting and fun. If you know Rick, you know he is the SNAG GOLF King. SNAG stands for Starting New At Golf and is a great way to introduce kids to golf in a fun way using big plastic clubs, targets and tennis balls. Birdie Ball is another great game to use in your programs (round plastic circle) that you can use indoors and out and the kids love it. Mr. Grayson is also big on blow up targets such as Golfzilla that you can hit real, tennis balls or birdie balls into and have contests. And lastly Rick’s new invention is a board game called “Golf Fore Fun”. It combines golf skills with exercise, rules and etiquette. Rick showed me this prototype over a year ago at a conference and I think it will be a staple to every junior program.
Chapter 17 Class Time For Parents
“Today parents are more involved in their children’s sports programs than ever before. The only thing that is harder than being parents is being parents with a child who plays sports”
This has been something that has interested me as I teach a lot of elite juniors. I encourage the parents to be involved but not to the fact that it hurts or confuses the junior. Parents that try to teach their kids with the wrong information becomes a problem. This should be addressed right up front the role that they need to play. Parents need to be careful of over teaching or teaching something that the coach is not which will create confusion. Rick agrees that you should have the parent observe the lesson so that this confusion doesn’t occur. He also stresses the importance of a parent displaying a positive attitude towards the kids as it can affect the performance if handled in a negative way. This is something that i have to work hard on as a parent as well. Asking the child what they did well instead of what they did wrong and encouraging them instead of always criticizing. Sometimes a parent can change affect the player on the course just by a groan, a noise or a look that the junior will pick up on. Rick says it is difficult but consistency in behavior is the key for the parents. Tone of voice and a smooth pitch level is important. Here is what parents can do: Start the junior young, give the junior the tools to learn, Keep it simple, value the sport;respect the game and the people who play it (my personal favorite),offer small prizes for success…….Great advice for sure!
Lastly, Chapter 21 Being A Great Coach
This was a great chapter for the coaches. These ideas don’t just apply to teaching juniors but to teaching golf in general. I have applied all of these topics at some point in my career and it has helped me for sure. So here is a recap:
1. Set the example “hole model” – playing fair on the course and in life.
2. Talk the Talk – The importance of being a good public speaker. Personally I was the worst public speaker on the planet when I started in this business and this is something that I knew I needed to be proficient at if I wanted to be a top teacher. Rick recommends taking a public speaking course. (I suggest Toastmasters), practice in a mirror and speak at as many functions that you can.
3. Be a good listener – conveying your ideas about the golf swing in a manner that the junior can understand it. The language you use is super important but having the ability to listen to the student is maybe a lost art. Too many teachers talk too much and don’t take the time to learn more about the student. Rick says,”You can gain valuable insight into the problem by listening.”
4. Social Networking – Quote,”If the coach is going to stay on top of business, he needs to be a part of the social networking world. The coach needs to join Facebook,Twitter and LinkdIn and use these services to communicate with juniors and their parents.” I would like to think I had some influence on this one as my friend John Graham and I introduced Rick to twitter awhile back and it is great to see him embracing the social media and marketing as I think this kind of forward thinking is important.
The rest of the chapter discusses the importance of keeping up with technology, education, leadership and hiring (Albert Einstein) people who are smarter than you. This is a fabulous outline of how a young coach or any coach could use to get better and improve their teaching skills.
To summarize, If you spend any time with Rick or just talk to him on the phone you can feel the passion and enthusiasm that he has for working with juniors and growing the game. These are key ingredients that are a must in developing a successful junior golf program and none do it better than Rick. There is so much valuable information in this book and It should be a must read for golf professionals that are interested in growing the game and improving as junior golf coach. In my opinion, this should be the junior golf manual for the PGA of America. Thank you Mr. Grayson for your hard work and for sharing the information. It will definitely help us all to grow this great game.
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You can find me on twitter @golfgurutv