Here is one of my favorite games and the multiple skills we can teach while having fun – TIC, TAC, TOE!
A simple game of Tic, Tac, Toe on the putting green is one of the best teaching settings I have ever used. Every young athlete absolutely loves playing this simple game and we can use this to teach a variety of different skills at the same time.
When one team hits a putt in a square they take control of that square. Like you would expect three squares in a row wins the game. The one caveat is that if they make a putt in the hole of the middle square that team can take control of any square they want.
One of the challenges with our younger golfers is simply, making putts. A 5 or 6 year old can have challenges making a 10 foot putt and can become frustrated very quickly. My younger athletes love this game because it’s something they can accomplish because we change the size of the target. Instead of a 4 1/4 inch hole they now have a 18″x18″ target or larger. They can decide which square they putt to instead of always having to putt to a specific hole or target.
We can also bring multiple ages of athletes together, the younger athletes (4-7 yrs old) can team up with older athletes (8-13 yrs old).
The younger athletes love partnering up with the older athletes while the older athletes can take give a bit of guidance and show off their skills. Golf is an individual sport and encouraging interaction between athletes can be challenging. The strategy and excitement that a team game creates makes golf much more enjoyable and the kids love it!
Here are some of the concepts that we teach while playing Tic, Tac, Toe:
- Golf skills – we stick to one specific skill each week. During December we focused on Posture and ensuring each FUNdamental athlete (4-7 yrs old) was able to hang their arms down and hinge from the hips. As our athletes progress and learn new skills the goals of each theme become more refined and catered to each athlete.
- Etiquette – to me this is the most important overall concept I can impart on any of our young athletes. We discuss the concept of sportsmanship and what golf “manners” really mean. When a 5 yr old competes, he/she wants to win, but they don’t generally grasp the difference between personal success and the opponents failure. Young athletes cheer when they or their teammates make a putt and/or when the other team misses a putt. It is not acceptable to cheer when someone else misses a putt and I only stop class for 2 situations; injury / injury prevention and to discuss etiquette opportunities.
- Strategy – the negotiation and discussion involved in deciding where to putt the ball is priceless. I’ve really enjoyed listening to the back and forth while trying to be aggressive and take a square or be more defensive and block the other team. 4 and 5 year olds have few opportunities to justify their position and convince their teammates.
- Pressure – one shot to block the other team and win the game. How often does a 5 year old have multiple people counting on them to perform? To create a pressure situation for a young athlete in a comfortable atmosphere is unique and something I love to see. It is awesome to see them succeed and have their entire team cheer for them.
All of this from a simple game of Tic, Tac, Toe!
Playing fun and challenging games is something every young athlete enjoys. I am constantly striving to develop new games which allow our young athletes to exhibit new golf skills, learn more about themselves and put themselves in new situations. GAMES RULE!
Next time you go for a practice session with your young athlete play a game. You don’t need the tape or anything elaborate, unless you want to of course!
What games do you like that are easy and fun for your young athlete?
It seems my New Year’s Resolutions were a little too much for my aging “dad” self to keep up. I was doing great for about 3 weeks until a couple of injuries kicked up and made life a little tough.
A bone spur in my wrist and a lingering shoulder injury have made both working out and practicing much more challenging. I’m now in a wrist brace with potential surgery on the horizon. I’ve decided surgery is the very last option, on my lead wrist at that. A visit to the PT in the morning, Neil McKenna at Elevate Function (http://elevatefunction.com), should help me along my path.
My injuries have really made me rethink my views on golf and being physically active. It’s more important than ever to understand the correct mechanics, sequence and physical limitations required in the golf swing. The folks over at the Titleist Performance Institute (http://www.mytpi.com) opened me up to what our body is made to do and what it is supposed to do. I’ve compared old video of my golf swing to what I am trying to accomplish now and have found the issue……my grip.
I’ve adjusted my grip just a bit a couple of years ago and in my attempt to consistently grip the club the same every shot I’ve gone too far in one direction. The club is now too far in my fingers (just be a few millimeters mind you) which has resulted in a strong grip that my swing isn’t made for. I cup the club too early in my backswing and am unable to maintain a flat wrist during the downswing.
A slightly strong grip has led to an impact position with a slightly cupped wrist and very bad things happen. Bad things happen to my wrist, my ball flight and more importantly to my ego.
I need to always review my fundamentals, something my Director of Instruction preaches every day. Even when I think I’m in the correct positions…..I often times am not. It really is amazing how we can tweak very small things with our swing; grip, stance, posture or alignment…just to name a few. My attempt to keep the club head outside of my hands on the backswing has led to a very bad position during my takeaway and the top of the backswing. I’m forced to release the club early which causes my wrist to be in extension at impact, which is not good at all (casting).
My goal is to avoid surgery and improve my golf swing. The new technology our PGA Golf Professionals have is amazing; K-Vest, Flightscope and high speed video just to name a few. Now I’ve got to adjust my motor pattern and change my takeaway, but more importantly I’ve got to change my release. A new grip is one of the most challenging things in golf but since I’d really like to play with my (now) three kids, change is good!
Visit http://www.mytpi.com/improve-my-game/swing-characteristics/casting for more information on “Casting” and the various screens and fixes.