This happened a little while ago now but its impact carries with me today. While coaching on a driving range I overheard a conversation between a child and parent while the child hit balls. I asked the person who I was coaching to excuse me for a short time so I could note down the conversation, it fascinated me;
DAD Take your time… Head down… Knees bent… Don’t try and hit them all at once… That’s better… Straighten your back a little… Good shot… Bend your knees… That’s better… Your trying too hard… What you want to do…
(Dad demonstrates from the back of the range)
watch me, bend your knees, keep your arms straight and look at the ball all the while… Take your time… The reason you did that is you moved your leg as you swung… That’s it!!! Very good, well done… You get good by practice, practice, practice…
CHILD Do you want a go Dad?
Dad takes the club off the child. What you want to do when you swing, as you come down you lift up, you need to stay still (and demonstrates, scuffing the ball shorter than the child had been hitting it)
Child takes back club. Hits it nicely in the air (further than Dad did) and beams a big skills back at Dad!!!
DAD Much better, well done…
This all took about 2 mins and the child hit about 6 golf balls!!! What an amazing insight!!! It was obvious to me that Dad and child had a lovely relationship, all of this was said in a way that was positive and well meaning. So many questions crop up when I see and hear this sort of interaction between parent and child.
But, was it needed?
Did the child hear any of Dad’s commentary? Was it just noise?
Did they understand any of what was being said? Was any of it actually helpful? Was any of it actually factual?
Does the parent run the risk of putting the child off the game by providing feedback and critique in this way?
I choose not to say anything to this parent (I was coaching at the time, but did make a mental note to speak when I next saw him) I have since spoken with many parents about this and as mentioned above the majority of parents do this out of love for their child and wanting to help them. Parents often ask what they can do and say to support the development of their child. There is never one, or an easy answer. But I often share the idea that if they are in doubt of what to say/do to help, then say/do “nowt” (do nothing)
A couple of thoughts I often share with parents;
- Be there for them.
- Make sure they are unconditionally loved.
- Provide them with enjoyable and engaging opportunities to play, learn and compete in as many different ways as possible.
- Learn with them as they grow and develop.
- Enjoy watching them play.
- Enjoy watching them improve.
- Enjoy playing golf with them.
- Be there for a cuddle and a smile if they are disappointed.
Parenting is a TOUGH job (with no rule book!!!) so enjoy the journey and learn and grow with your child.