July 2010

Golf Tips From A Pro: Pete Popovich - GOLF INSTRUCTION FOR WOMEN & CHILDREN

Author: Pete Popovich | Photographer: Photography by Anne

If you look in any golf shop, regardless of location, nearly all equipment and instruction is geared towards men. This is unfortunate, because golf is a game that can be enjoyed by the entire family, including women and children.

Years of teaching have allowed me to focus on how people learn. Some people are analytical while others are creative (see my article in the April issue of CH2 & CB2). Some want a quick fix while others are looking for long-term improvement. Men, women and children must all be approached in a different way. Men typically think they know what they are doing and can fix things themselves. It isn’t until they are completely frustrated and lost that they break down and take a lesson, much the same as they will not stop and ask for directions when lost while driving a car.

Women tend to take lessons with the idea of improving steadily over time. As in driving a car, when a woman gets lost, she will usually stop, ask for directions, and get back on track.

INSTRUCTING WOMEN
It is important for an instructor to recognize the differences between men and women, not only from the way they view things, but also from differences in physiology:
1) Women are usually much more flexible, which allows them to achieve a greater range of motion throughout the swing; but this has plusses and minuses (see my Physical Fitness article in the March issue of CH2 & CB2).
2) When standing at address, most women’s arms have a natural tendency to curve inward at the elbows, i.e. toward one another. This “curving-in” makes it difficult for a woman’s arms to set properly at the top of the swing.
3) Women normally lack men’s wrist and hand strength, so proper club fitting is extremely critical (see my club fitting articles in the November, December and January issues of CH2 & CB2).

If an instructor does not know how each of these (and other) aspects fit together and how to address each one to properly remedy a problem, a woman’s job of hitting the golf ball becomes much more difficult.

INSTRUCTING CHILDREN
Recently, more children have begun to play golf than ever before. This is wonderful because, beyond allowing young people to spend time with parents and grandparents in a safe natural environment, it opens many doors to a child’s future—not just in golf, but in social and business endeavors as well. And just like adults, children desiring to improve their inherent skills at golf need proper instruction, too.

“Proper” instruction is critical because problems can arise when well-meaning parents get in the way of a child’s ongoing enjoyment while pursuing the game. Not all parents have the ability and patience to apply the specific instruction young people need. Though most parental help comes from love and a desire for one’s child to do well, it is easy for confusion to set in and tempers to flare. This can lead to frustration and even abandonment of the game.

One thing to remember about instructing children, especially as they progress (even from prodigy status) is this: If a child has a desire to learn, it is the responsibility of everyone—golf instructor, parent, etc.—to nourish that desire carefully. Forcing children to practice or play might make them productive initially, but it could sour them on the game later. It is important for children, and later adolescents, to practice and work on their game to attain their goals, but doing so at the proper pace is critical. Building skills should not limit a young person’s ability to be well-rounded and enjoy his/her younger years. “Proper” instruction can help streamline the learning process without sacrificing a young person’s pursuit of other potentials, holding golf as a priority if he or she so chooses.

If your child wanted to be an architect or dancer, wouldn’t it be more effective to have him or her instructed by an expert in that field?

Golf is not for men only. If you are a woman or have a child interested in improving and have not been getting the results you would like, call the Golf Performance Academy at (843) 338-6737. We know something about golf, and we apply it in a way that guarantees you will improve.

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