Winter Practice That Pays Off
With the winter here, many parents are worried about the junior golfers in their family. Namely, how do they keep the juniors interested in golf through the cold season so that they are mentally and physically prepared to go come April?
Actually, there are some exercises and drills that can be done at home the keep the swing fresh. They take only a few minutes a day to complete, and they will help ingrain some of the proper fundamentals necessary for a swing that will hold up in competition. Here they are:
1) Holding a club upside down, make swings as quickly as you can, listening for the ‘swoosh’ sound each time. This promotes speed and acceleration in the golf swing.
2) Using a full-length body mirror, take your stance to confirm that your posture and address position is correct. Look at yourself both face-on and from the side. You might want to go to your instructor as well, to ask him/her what to focus on specifically.
3) Placing your head against a door frame, cross your arms over your chest or shoulders and make turns simulating your backswing and follow-through. This will help you feel and reinforce maintaining your spine angle through the swing motion.
4) Backward-forward swings: I like to have my juniors set up in the proper finish position first, and then swing backwards into the top of the backswing position, and then immediately swing back into the finish position. This helps give juniors a feel for the proper finish, the swing, and how to return to the same finish position, as well as maintain spine angle, all in one exercise.
If you have space in the garage to swing a club, you can also create a hitting space. Go to a home-renovation store for some thick, heavy-grade tarp that painters use to cover floors. Hang the tarp from the ceiling, and you have your netting to hit balls into. Then you can purchase a mat, or see if one of the local ranges will just give you one of their old ones. Make sure that you securely fasten the tarp and that there’s adequate padding behind it so that balls do not ricochet off the wall and back at you.
It is important that your junior golfer does not lose the connection between the swing and ball flight. Even in the winter, they must make an effort to make regular visits to one of the local driving ranges with heated stalls. If you have not experienced that in the past, I think you will be surprised at how warm the stalls can be. Once a week will be more than sufficient for kids ages 7 and up; twice a week if your child is older and is serious about the game. They don’t need to hit more than a small bucket each time, but they should go through their pre-shot routine before each swing.
To perfect proper swing mechanics, there are indoor teaching facilities such as our studio here at Harbor Links, which have the latest digital-video software and launch monitor ready for lessons. And as you are indoors, it makes it easier to concentrate solely on swing mechanics rather than the flight of the ball.
Follow these plans, and your child should be ready to go when the season starts up again.
James Hong is the Director of Junior Golf Development at Harbor Links Golf Course in Port Washington.