As a parent it is important that as my daughter grows up that she is able to fulfill her passion with whatever she decides to do … This can be very dangerous as it specifically relates to golf.

Children today spend time very differently than when I was growing up. Video games, computers and the internet were not as readily available and used like they are today. Children used to spend hours playing outside and playing a variety of sports as they grew up, changing sports as the seasons changed. Because children used to play more of a variety of sports they were exposed to throwing, kicking, jumping, and climbing more so than the children of today who may participate less in sports or focus on just one sport year round.

This pattern of early specialization is very widespread and the burden has to be placed on the parents.  Children who focus on one sport at a young age run the risk of failure or putting themselves at greater risk of injury. Gymnastics and swimming require early specialization for elite level success, and athletes that play these sports are seldom competitive past their early twenties.  There are obviously outliers in almost all situations, but remember that golf is a game to be played for an entire lifetime and early specialization in golf can have serious consequences on a child’s long term future in golf.

Potential consequences of early specialization in golf:

  • Single sport participation from an early age restricts development of speed and skills.
  • Children end up lacking basic motor skills to participate in other sports.
  • Intense training in one sport increases the risk of injury and can delay physical development.
  • Increased pressure to succeed at an early age can result in making the sport less enjoyable in the future.
  • Social isolation is common due to limited interaction with other children.

Tiger, Rory, and the annual 16 year old LPGA prodigy turning pro are a major reason that parents push their children to specialize in one sport at an early age. The lifestyle, money, and fame is a major contributing factor and one that often does not pay off. The average age of the 2013 Web.com Tour graduates to the PGA Tour was almost 29.5 years old!  Many of these golfers played a variety of sports as they grew up which gave them the necessary tools to succeed as a golfer when they made the decision to specialize in golf. For many it wasn’t until late in their high-school or college careers when they made their decision to focus completely in golf and abandon their other interests.

Early specialization can be very detrimental to your child’s physical and mental development. Make sure to create a multi-sport athlete who enjoys the sport first and foremost which will go a long way in helping your child create a love for the game that will last a lifetime.

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