Mental Training Youth Golfers
Can mental training youth golfers happen to soon? A father of a young golfing prodigy contacted me recently via my "Coach's Corner" page inquiring about this very topic. It inspired a response to him and I felt some of my blog readers might find this an interesting topic.
How young is too young to teach mental training? Needless to say each child is unique yet let's look at the real concern here. For a child the game of golf is pure joy. With each new level of skill integration the joy increases. It's the "fun" of the game that must be preserved. If improper mental training is applied too soon it would be adverse.
I believe the father, or the child's guide as he/she learns the game, should build their own mental awareness. What I am saying is the teacher should build their own mental game and use language that supports the child's learning. The issue is in making sure the teacher has a good mental game. Thereby steering the child in the right direction as they learn and build their game.
Ready When You Are
A child's mind is like a sponge. Especially when they have a bond with whom they are learning from. So if the person they're learning from has a strong mental game (an understanding of sound mental game applications) then the child will naturally absorb this. The teaching of mental game principles can simply "happen". Instead of clearly marking things out as "Mental training time".
We learn best, and absorb the most, when all of our senses are engaged. Remember the first time you rode a bike? You looked at it with eyes popping out of your head, saw yourself riding effortlessly along, grabbed the handle bars and hopped on the bike. Filled with anticipation. The breeze washed over your face and wonder filled your heart and mind! Magic.
When this is the sense a child has when learning, whether it be golf or mental training, they are never too young. There are some very simple and powerful accelerated learning strategies in my online course The Golf Whisperer Training. When learning is multi-sensory, you, me, or a 4 year old child, are at our peak state for learning. We will effortlessly absorb whatever it is we are learning.
It is important to offer experiential learning, not technical, left brain "concepts". The child's mind can't accept (isn't ready to receive) this type of learning. They simply clutter the mind and get in the way of releasing their own potential. Concepts damage natural learning and skill development.
"Learning" Mental Training vs "Teaching" It.
Think about it. If you "knew" you were about to be taught something your mind unconsciously gets prepared for this. Yet if you are naturally taught things and were not told you were about to be taught your mind doesn't get on guard for it. A child, at any age, unconsciously models their peers. Especially their father.
If we, as fathers/mothers/teachers, blend our own mental understanding into their game while they're learning the swing, they will be light years ahead of other young golfers. And they will naturally take up their own learning of mental training with interest. They won't require reasons to do so. They will know the benefits because they've already "experienced" them.
There is plenty of evidence that brain development is incredibly rapid between 4 and 6 and that the imprints on a child's mind by the time they are only 6 years old become the blueprint for their mental lives. Is that incredible or what?! So the programming a youth golfer receives before then is critical. Why not make it the best possible?
I can definitely say that if I received mental training when I was 5 or 6 years old, in the way I've suggested it be done here, my desire to gain more knowledge would have happened on its own, with no prodding needed. If mental training for youth golfers is made as fun as riding a bike for the first time then they will be ready when you are.
The Golf Whisperer Course