“I have to wear a dress?” Teaching Juniors vs Teaching Adults

I have given thousands of lessons to both juniors and adults. Both groups want to learn golf and want to improve. However, how you teach these two groups varies greatly.

A typical adult student seeks instruction with very specific directives – example, fixing a slice. The attention and effort is focused on fixing it and being very specific with a course of action to take. But teaching a junior golfer is much more than “fixing” — the teacher needs to get to the juniors’ level of how they learn and comprehend.

You cannot expect juniors to understand the basics of the golf swing by talking to them in an adult vocabulary. For instance, a funny story- I was teaching a 6 year old boy how to set up to the ball – and I said “this is how you address the ball”. He had a funny look on his face and looked up and said to me “I have to wear a dress?” Well – I forgot for that split second I was talking to a 6 year old! My fault! We laugh about it every time I see him.

I have had on occasion had to remind fellow professionals that they are talking to kids. So the “keep  the angle at the top of your turn, then rotate your hips around into a solid left side” becomes  “Make a letter L at the top of your swing, then turn your belly button through and whoosh into a balanced finish  on your left leg and count to 3”.

I make sure juniors are never bored and I make sure that I keep their attention. You have to be creative. I usually have a game at the end of a lesson. I also make sure during the lesson that failure is okay when you practice and that everyone has failure in their golf swings at one time or another, and that it’s okay. Sometimes I even use simple junior phrases with adult lessons to help adults! But I would never use adult vocabulary with juniors. They will look at you like you are from another planet.

Overall, yes –  juniors and adults have different learning capabilities.  But they all want to learn and get better. In any lesson, whether with an adult or a junior, I make sure they understand everything that I am saying and if they do not understand to please tell me so. The student “understanding” may mean that I may say the same thing 12 different ways for them to “get” it.

Remember that 6 year old wondering if he had to wear a dress to hit a golf ball? That tells you right there that juniors and adults must be taught differently if you are to have successes with both.


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