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									Health & Fitness

Sport Skills
By Garth Milne

I  n the previous issue we covered pri-
   mal movement patterns and why it is
important for children to get an Active
                                                aspects will result in the child becoming
                                                “Physically Literate”. This level should
                                                be achieved around the age of 12, or
                                                                                            on fundamental skill acquisition as the
                                                                                            child becomes uncoordinated (ungainly
                                                                                            or gawky). It seems that the more time
Start and develop proficiency in funda-         when they start to undergo their pre-       spent in the application phase, the bet-
mental movement skills. This includes           adolescent growth spurt.                    ter ingrained each skill becomes. This
skills such as running, jumping, striking            Dr Vern Seefeldt believes that mo-     may explains why the early developer
and balancing. Too many parents put             tor skills development instils in a child   has a size advantage initially, but be-
added pressure on their children to start       a “basic vocabulary of sport” and           cause the late mature acquires more
playing the game of golf too early. This        this is essential for a child to achieve    permanent skills, the late developer ulti-
is a highly skilful game and children           a certain level of competency in any        mately surpasses the early developer.
first need to develop fundamental move-         sport. Physical literacy is essential            Now to answer the big question all
ment skills before progressing to funda-        for a child to master an athletic event,    parents have. When should you get
mental sport skills.                            particularly a complex movement such        your child to specialize in golf?
     First, let’s differentiate between a       as a golf swing.                                 Early specialization sports are those
fundamental movement skill and a sport               There is a transitional phase, usu-    where children must excel at an early
skill. When a child learns how to strike a      ally around the age of 7, where fun-        age. These sports usually involve de-
stationary ball with a club or even a bat,      damental movement skills have been          fined execution of a pre-practised rou-
this is a movement skill. When a child          learned. Children now move into an          tine such as gymnastics, figure skating
learns how to chip a ball using a golf          application phase where fundamental         and diving.
chipping action in an attempt to get the        sport skills are now acquired. This              Late specialization sports are those
ball close to or into the hole, the child has   usually occurs a couple of years prior      where professionals of that sport have
moved to sport skill development.               to the onset of the growth spurt. This      spent more than 10 years practising
     Becoming proficient in these two           growth spurt then has an adverse effect     their sport, in order to execute their skills

58         sa woman golfer sep/oct/nov 2010
in diverse environments . These include       in their 20’s. Only those who started at a      junior clinics that take the principles of
sports such as golf, soccer and cricket.      very young age or who have been gifted          Long Term Athletic Development (LTAD)
     If a child who wants to excel at golf    with phenomenal golfing talent have             into account. This will ensure that they
(a late specialization sport), is forced      achieved this. (Tiger Woods and Jack            get the right type of coaching that is
into an early specialization philosophy;      Nicklaus are only a few who have won            applicable to their developmental age,
the child may end up with physical im-        multiple major titles in their twenties).       not just their chronological age, which
balances, overuse injuries and burnout               So what does this all mean for your      will engrain sound FUNdamentals .
(Harsanyi, 1985).                             budding little champion? Well, you must         Ultimately, you need to be patient with
     Dr Ernst Zwick is a world renowned       ensure that your child has mastered             your child and allow him or her deter-
expert on childhood development. He           basic, “primal” movements by the ages           mine how often they practice. There are
postulates that in order to become pro-       of 6-7. Thereafter, fundamental sport           ways to get your child to the course, but
ficient at a sport such as golf or cricket,   skills can be learned. These are things         make sure that it is his or her decision
it takes approximately 10,000 hours           such as chipping, pitching, bunker              to go, not yours. This will ensure that
of correct practice. Hence the recom-         play. Once your child starts his or her         your child enjoys playing the game and
mended 10 years to master a late spe-         growth spurt, it is then best to put more       will participate for many years.
cialization sport.                            emphasis on physical conditioning (flex-             If you have any questions on junior
     It has been noted by the Title-          ibility, stamina and/or strength).              coaching clinics or on the principles of
ist Performance Institute, that for golf            Remember that it takes many hours         LTAD, please do not hesitate to contact
this number may in fact be as high as         of practice to master the skills neces-         me at garth@wannabeachampion.com.
20,000 hours! This can take around 20         sary to play the game of golf at a profes-           Until next time, have fun encourag-
years. One only needs to look at how few      sional level. Seek the advice of a PGA          ing your little champion to PLAY the
golfers have won major championships          Professional and enrol your child in            game!

                                                                                           sep/oct/nov 2010 sa woman golfer        59

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