I’m sure like me many of you have just had fun entertaining your kids over the school half term holidays. My stepson Alexander really enjoyed practising golf at the range and at home and I wanted to share with you this week some of the simple tips and exercises that his Dad and leading coach Dan Frost has created to encourage him to get into golf and enjoy the game.
“I never like to put too much pressure on Alexander and certainly don’t force him into the game that I fell in love with around his age. We try and keep things simple, fun and ultimately get him ready for when/if he does want to play the game more seriously.”
Instruction by Dan Frost with Alexander Frost, age 9
Tip 1: Athletic posture
When it comes to creating good balance and rotation in the golf swing, posture is key. The one problem that kids have with posture is that they are generally inconsistent. I give Alexander this really simple way of finding a good starting position.
- Rest the golf club against your tummy
- Let your arms hang down as you tip forward from your hip
- When the fingertips touch the top of slightly flexed knees your body is in position.
- Now simply grip the club
Tip 2: Monkey grip
I find that most kids don’t pay much attention to the grip. They end up with the club too much in their palms with the hands having no relationship to one another, robbing the potential for whip/speed. I remind Alexander of the importance of a ‘finger grip’ in both hands by forming a monkey grip with him.
• Making sure that the club is square to your ball-to-target line place the club into the fingers of your left hand and allow the thumb to wrap over so that it points down the right side.
• Now create the opposite feeling with the right hand.
• You will notice that the hands look rotated in opposite directions. Try and get away from having two thumbs straight down the middle as this will inhibit the natural wrist action.
Tip 3: Zip to the right
Like most kids, Alexander has a tendency to aim his body to the left of the target. As when he looks up at the target he twists his torso and never returns it to square. I always remind him ‘zip to the right’. This gets his head fractionally behind the ball, the right shoulder behind the left and encourages him to make a turn in the backswing and hit the ball from the inside.
Tip 4: Circle swings
Although Alexander is relatively new to the game, I do like him to understand that the ball sits on the outer edge of a circle and he stands inside the circle. Simply positioning hula hoops on the ground encourages him to make a swing that is from in-to-square-to-in, just like the pros. You can see in the picture that I have placed an outer circle, this to encourages circular energy through impact.
Tip 5: Turn and finish
Sometimes children need a little positive encouragement or a key association when they swing the club. Alexander’s is simply ‘turn and finish’. This means turn his shoulders in the backswing, collect the ball and then hold his finish. Simple is good.
Not all practice needs to be done on the driving range or at the golf course. Co-ordination, strength, flexibility, balance and speed can all be worked on at home. I have made Alexander some simple training aids to help him have fun whilst learning these key functions.
This is simply a piece dowel (that you can buy in any DIY store) with a golf grip on the end. The game is to create a swishing noise just after impact. This drill allows Alexander to understand where to release his speed in the golf swing.
It is important that the body remains flexible and as children become stronger sometimes they become tighter. I like to use the stretching pole pictured to encourage Alexander to create good range of movement so that he can hit it far.
Stretch 1: Backswing & throughswing
Stretch 2: Spine & shoulder stretch
Stretch 3: Hamstring & hip stretch
Stretch 4: Whole body stretch
Long pole swing: Increasing strength will ultimately result in a more stable, powerful golf swing. I encourage Alexander to swing this long pole with a grip on to help him improve his control and conditioning. I believe that if he has the ability to control something this length then he should have no problem with his clubs, which are half the length of the pole. The other benefit of this drill is that it creates tremendous momentum in relation to creating good sequence and rotation.
RSM Classic R1
Human wheel: To encourage Alexander to understand that the turn of the golf swing is tilted I get him to do this simple human wheel drill. This really helps him to stay down as he rotates through the ball.
Clifftop balance: Most kids don’t focus enough on balance. They smash the ball and fall backwards, forwards and generally hit the ball inconsistently. To heighten Alexander’s awareness of balance I like him to stand on a ledge or a step and swing the club staying in balance. The fear of falling, although not dangerous from this height, heightens his senses and makes him focus on balance.
Overhead throw: Having worked with a lot of elite level children over the years I have noticed that the kids who can throw a ball the furthest, jump the highest, sprint the fastest, tend to hit the golf ball the furthest. So creating games and drills around these skills will definitely get your child to hit the ball further. The one we are demonstrating here is the overhead throw. This creates coordination, sequence and trains the idea that the body uncoils to the ground all the way up to the hands. Just like the release in the golf swing.
Alexander is extremely fortunate that we have had SouthWest Greens install a wonderful putting green in our back garden, but if you don’t have this luxury you can still do all of these tips on your carpet.
I believe that it is very important to get young players understanding why they are supposed to keep their eyes over the ball. I believe that if you create a line of golf balls running through the hole, kids will get their eyes into the right position to see a straight line. Think about a snooker player with his chin on the cue, eyes in position ready to deliver.
I am not overly detailed when it comes to putting the hands on the grip in ‘exact’ position. But I do like kids to get the putter running through the lifeline of their left hand. If they do this the right hand tends to follow suit. Alexander simply holds the putter like a pistol in his left hand and then drops it back down to the green. This stops him being too wristy without restricting natural flow.
Instinctive putting routine
This one is really simple. I like kids to pay attention to how they aim the putter towards their intended line, but once they have made their mind up, it is essential then that they just ‘see it and roll it’. (Don’t take too long.)
Putt to make
As Alexander is only 9 years old I do not really care much for his ability to two-putt under pressure as he doesn’t understand or has not experienced any pressure in relation to golf. I simply get him to concentrate on making every putt he hits. It either goes in or it misses, there is nothing in between. This in tow creates a great mindset for the future.
It is important to keep things really simple when it comes to working around the green. The same thought process comes into account when I ask Alexander to ‘chip to make’ and I try to keep this technique as though-free as possible. Try these two simple chips:
As the late, great Seve said “chipping is more arms than hands.” I simply get Alexander to create a narrow stance, with a little shaft lean, and make a very minimal, non-wristy stroke, using the loft of the club to create the elevation.
As he starts to require more height or distance Alexander simply adds in a slightly wider stance with a little wrist hinge. This is not too different, just slightly softer wrists in this one.
Originally published in 2014