05/25/2013

Take a trip to any local ball diamond, gym or golf course and it quickly becomes evident that youth sports are no longer a friendly organized pick-up game between young people.  Major league looking uniforms, paid coaches and travel teams cris-crossing the tri-state area is more the norm than not for most participants.  Not to mention the fact, that corporations and businesses now attach their name and offer training services to almost any 12 year travel team that comes knocking. Things start to resemble professional sports very fast.

The majority of this begins with parents wanting new opportunities and experiences for their kids.  At face value, this is a noble cause and one any good parent should strive for.  However it usually does not end there.  Much of the true competition is between the adults off the field who are in an endless pursuit of getting their kid on the best team, demanding long practice hours and in many ways making decisions based on a win at all costs agenda. What started out as a noble and good cause quickly turns into an endless pursuit to one-up the competition.

As a parent who has two young kids beginning to play competitive sports and someone who tends to be very competitive by nature, I struggle with many of these same situations.  In addition, I am a golf instructor who runs a business that trains and develops golfers while providing opportunities for them to pursue their goals.  My experience as a parent, instructor and coach has provided me with some interesting perspectives.

Over the last 20 years of teaching I have been blessed to work with some great kids and parents.  In that time I always took note of what the parents of my most successful students did, said and even what their body language might have indicated.  It has been a fascinating exercise in human psychology and how family environments can make or break a young person’s performance on the course.

It is my contention there are many factors that play into the development of skill and performance on any playing field.  My experience has taught me that parents play the biggest role and have the greatest impact.  If you want your kids to like golf, be successful and hopefully reach their full potential, we as parents need to look in the mirror and be aware of what we say, how we say it and who we let into our kid’s lives.

Next week I will be sharing what I have learned from my best parents.  It is an accumulation of 20+ years of human behavior.  I think you might be surprised by the results and what you can learn.

Todd Kolb