Expert Advice


Tee Box

Play Less To Play Better

I am asked SO often, from other junior golf parents, about how to set the right competitive schedule.  It’s certainly a challenge.  So, when I read this article today, I wanted to share it with you.    Happy Scheduling – Amy
Courtesy of  from Golf Performance Coaches
There has been much debate about the amount of time it takes to reach an elite level in any discipline. The goal of this post is to elicit thoughts about how we approach competition schedules for our young athletes.  Competitions offer a critical component of a young athletes experience of the game, and the building of a suitable competition calendar should be a major focus of any training plan.

At the end of the day, what we have come to realize is that “Excellence takes time”  (one of the new 10 Key Factors in the Canadian Sport for Life LTAD model which I will be referencing in future posts).   The key becomes how we spend our time on the journey to excellence…


One of the ways to slow the rate of skill development in any youth athlete is to expose them to a high frequency of games / competition at a young age and neglect the countless number of hours that are needed in training physical & technical skills. This is particularly true between the ages of 8 – 12, as research has shown that just prior to hitting their “Peak Height Velocity” kids are able to develop skills (i.e. chipping, putting, tee shots, deadlift, squat etc.) at an accelerated rate.

Overcompetiting and undertraining is becoming a norm in many sports and can ultimately lead to sport burnout, increased injuries, and physical and mental fatigue.  Often these symptoms result in the athlete leaving the sport.

Imagine that we think of competitions like an exam at school, an opportunity to “test” skills rather than develop them. You could only imagine how difficult it would for a grade 9 student to experience success in a subject if they had exams every week.  Not only would the student lack time to prepare, but you can image the toll this would take on the student’s body, both physically and mentally.

In Canada, we are at a time when we work with players and families to help support them with designing their competitive schedule for the upcoming golf season. We feel that it is important for the junior golfer to take ownership of the selection process as it will help them to understand at what time throughout the season they need to be “peaking” (very similar to a student understanding when exam’s occur during an academic year).

We encourage our players to take the following approach when building their competitive schedule:

Step #1: Identify “major” competitions – typically 2 – 5 provincial and national level events for most competitive junior golfers.

Step #2: Select “secondary” competitions – 2 – 5 smaller regional level events which grant players “Order of Merit” points for provincial and national rankings.

Step #3: Fill in calendar with 5 – 10 regional and local competitions to help prepare player for their “majors” – these would be competitions at the players home club or golf courses which they have experienced success at in the past.

Once the player’s schedule is in place the coach can now help them peak for competitions through various strategies.  One of the key strategies is “tapering” – a special training period immediately before a major tournament during which the training and practicing is decreased to achieve a peak in performance. More scientifically, tapering produces a superior biological state characterized by ideal health, quick adaptability to training, and a very fast rate of recovery. Tapering is a strategy that has been a norm in other sports but has been seldom used in golf.

Tapering for a junior golfer would typically consist of the following strategies:

Recommended Time period: 3 – 4 Days prior to competition

  • Physical Training: Reduced to excellent warm-ups and cool down
  • Golf Practice: Elevate intensity (quality repetitions) and slightly decrease volume, frequency (# of sessions), and duration (shorter time) – Ensure to spend the majority of your time simulating competition conditions in practice. Please reference post on “Deliberate Practice Essentials” for ways to ensure golf practice is high quality.
  • Stress: Eliminate all stress!!! Unload all stress from your life outside the athletic arena.
  • Rest: Extra sleep and recovery – ensure that you are never training if you are fatigued.
  • Nutrition/Hydration: Consume high quality foods (stay away from processed foods) and ensure you maximize water intake.

Implementing these strategies prior to competition will ensure that the athlete’s body and mind are fully ready to handle the demands of the competitive environment and have the best opportunity to succeed.

Please contact us if you need any support selecting the appropriate competitions for your junior golfer and navigating the competitive junior golf landscape in Canada.  E-mail: jeff@golfperformancecoaches.com

Golf Performance Coaches

Player Development: It’s a Matter of Skill & Time

As parents, we understand that many things happen during a golf round.  We see the great shots and errant shots and sometimes shake our head and say, “why did that just happen?”  Golf shots are just as much mental, as they are physical.  Thank you to Matt Cuccaro for his thoughts and insight into this area.

It’s quite obvious that player development is based on building skill over time. The more an individual works at something, the more skills are developed. As skills are passionately pursued throughout a significant timeframe, expert performance appears.  Yet, it can be difficult to maintain this perspective on a daily basis – especially around tournament time. As competition nears, other ideas seem to bubble to the surface:

How many points is this tournament worth?   Who is in the field?  What’s the winning score going to be?

Although these thoughts are exciting to consider, they also tend to become a distraction to performance. The more distractions that arise against the player development mindset, the less attention an individual has to focus on the task at hand; and distracted is not a mindset which is synonymous with success.

Throughout training:

Golfers don’t practice making birdies, they practice making smooth swings.

Golfers don’t practice shooting 4-under par, they practice staying target focused.

Golfers don’t practice getting recruited by a college or turning pro, they practice patience.

If distracting ideas start taking over (make birdie, shoot 4-under, get recruited) especially around tournament time, unreliable results are likely to follow. Discussions based on short-sighted results breed a mindset linked to distracted performance, frustration, lackluster effort and potential  burnout.

Parents, coaches and athletes who reinforce a player development mindset (Skill + Time = Success) seek long-term growth and build healthy competitors as a result. These individuals see competition as an opportunity to exhibit skills (smooth swings, target focus and patience) and test personal limits. When skills continue to remain a top priority throughout training and competition, consistent results unfold. As individuals consistently take part in dialogue filled with themes of player development, birdies happen, scores drop and barriers continue to be broken.

 Matt Cuccaro has over a decade of experience working with athletes, coaches, parents and administrators on the mental aspects of high performance. He has served as Director of Mental Training for Junior Sports Corporation (International Junior Golf Academy and Ivan Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy) in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina since 2006. Most recently, Matt joined Telos Sport Psychology Coaching where he consults with businesses and athletes to assist them in reaching their potential. His clients range from juniors to the highest levels of professional sport. Follow Matt on Twitter: @MentalCoachMatt or contact him via e-mail: matt@telos-spc.com for further information.


Many thanks to our Junior Golf experts who spend so much time and energy dedicated to growing our junior golfers into the best they can be!

Etiquette on College Recruiting Visits

CollegeThank you to our special guest writer, Brandi Jackson, for this important article.  Brandi lives in Greenville, SC where she runs Brandi Jackson Golf, a College Recruiting Consulting and Performance Golf Coaching business. She is a former LPGA player and Furman University Hall of Fame member. Visit www.brandijacksongolf.com for more information.

Many junior golfers have been taking advantage of the summer months by scheduling unofficial visits with college coaches. This is a great time to catch a coach in their office or visit a campus while you are out traveling for tournaments. Below are a few things for both junior golfers and their parents to keep in mind.

For junior golfers:

  • Leave your cell phone in the car. To keep you from even being tempted to check your phone during the visit it is best to just leave it in the car.
  • Look the coach in the eye and firmly shake their hand when you walk into their office.
  • Sit up straight in the chair. Don’t slouch and slump.
  • Be enthusiastic. Make sure the coach knows you are excited to be there.
  • Ask questions. The worst thing you can do when I coach asks if you have any questions is to say “no”. Jot a few questions down on a notepad and take it in with you.
  • If you haven’t been regularly communicating with the coach and/or they haven’t seen you play yet, don’t ask about scholarship money unless the coach brings it up. You can ask how many players they are recruiting for your grad year and if you would be considered a recruited player, but avoid asking specific questions about scholarship until you have developed a relationship with the coach. It’s about finding the right fit, not the best deal.
  • Try to avoid looking at your parents when the coach asks you a question. Speak for yourself.
  • Be gracious. Coaches are very busy so thank them for taking time out of their schedule to meet with you.
  • Send a handwritten thank you note following the visit.

For Parents:

  • If your junior golfer is shy/quiet help prep them for the visit ahead of time. Make them go talk with an adult who they don’t know very well. Push them out of their comfort zone so they aren’t nervous on the visit.
  • Let the junior golfer run the show.
  • Coaches want to hear from the parents as well but never answer for the junior golfer.
  • Try to allow some time for just the coach and junior golfer to talk.

The College Golf Recruiting Process

golf imageThere are so many questions around the college recruiting process! When do you start the process? Who do you contact? What do I need to do? What should I not do?

And the questions could go on, and on, and on. So, when Frank Darby, the head golf coach at St John’s University in New York, reached out to Junior Golf Parents to offer his expertise in the college recruiting process, we were thrilled! He is in his nineteenth year at the helm of the St. John’s men’s golf program. He has had the privilege of coaching two PGA players, Keegan Bradley and Andrew Svoboda . You can also find him on Twitter@Fdarbs.

Look at the Top 100 Things to Do and see what you are already doing and what you need to get moving on. This list is fantastic – enjoy!

Social Media … Linkathletics.com…Showcase yourself…Community Service… Pace of Play… Everything in moderation… No cell phones when practicing …Golfstat.com…Oral resume and swing video… Track statistics… Gamebook.com… Improve every day… Wake up earlier… Surround yourself w/positive people…80% short game… Learn how to relax… One Word… Twitter… Facebook…Proper clubfitting… Tournament schedule…Respect for the game… AJGA…Interests and hobbies… Golfball fitting… Community service… Love bad weather…Energy Bus… Old School… Prepare for SAT… Don’t overanalyze your swing…Plan your day… Keegan Bradley… Practice properly… Fastscripts.com… iPAD Caddie… Everything is beautiful… Bob Rotella… Time Management… Make your Bed… Be different…USGA Jr Your major… Be calm in the mind…Jack Nicklaus…The Little Talent Code…Coachable… Keep your carclean… Rules of Golf…Be 5 minutes early… Golf Channel “On The Range”… Trackman combine …Steve Stricker… Aimpoint putting… Ben Shear… Sean Foley… Jack Grout…Vision54 Support Group…#25 combined fairways & greens hit… under 30 putts…Mental Wellness… Performance Journal… Luke Donald…PGATour.com…Ping App…No alcohol/drugs…Belly putter… Phil Mickelson…Attend a PGA Tour event…Dave Stockton… Proper nutrition…Snacks on the course…. Hydration…Team Chemistry… Thank you letters to everyone… Be grateful…. Play more than practice…Prepare w/practice rounds….Fairways and greens….Drive the ball in play… 10,000 putt challenge… Handle distractions… Research program and coaches…Plan and set goals for every practice session…What are successful people doing…Attend a college event… Be realistic about schools… Practice in bad weather… Work on weaknesses….World Class short game…. Dress great…Golf shoes clean… Take it from range to course… Watch Bagger Vance… Calm, Confident, Courageous…No complaining… Tempo and timing… No anger on course… Make a lot of birdies!

So, what are you going to start doing TODAY to continue your journey towards playing college golf? Love to get your feedback!


Dollar BillFind out what college golf coaches are really thinking!

So, who wants their junior to receive a college scholarship?! Cleary, a rhetorical question. A recent survey was sent out to college golf coaches of all division levels to ask their thoughts on junior golf, parent involvement, and the recruiting process. Survey questions and results were graciously provided by Brandi Jackson Golf (www.brandijacksongolf.com). (Responses do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Brandi Jackson Golf.) There are many words of wisdom below – Enjoy!

What advice would you give parents to better support their kids throughout junior golf?

“Don’t make decisions or discourage the decisions your children make. Help them learn how to do things for themselves.” – D1 Men’s and Women’s Coach

“Let the kid push themselves because in golf you need to be self motivated once you get to college golf” – D1 Women’s Coach

“Let them be responsible for themselves, making schedules, filling out applications” – D1 Men’s Coach

“Stay out of the way and don’t interfere with golf swings. Let the instructor or coach deal with it and let it be their responsibility” – D2 Men’s and Women’s Coach

“Parents need to realize that not every kid is going to be a superstar, in fact, most often, their child will excel when they play a supportive role behind the scenes.” – D1 Women’s Coach

“Be realistic about their ability and don’t add to the pressure.” – D1 Men’s Coach

How much of an influence does parent behavior have on your decision to recruit a player?

“More than they might imagine!” – D2 Men’s and Women’s Coach

“A ton. Don’t recruit some kids because of their parents. But also, don’t recruit some kids because of the way they treat their parents.” – D1 Women’s Coach

“Their relationship is very important. If a parent is doing all of the coaching, hovers all the time, that is a huge red flag to the coach. Conversely, if the player is rude to the parent, I want nothing to do with that player. I am old fashioned enough to see the ‘apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’. A parent will never help me decide to recruit a player, but they can always hurt” – D1 Men’s Coach

“I watch parents as much as recruits to see how they interact and treat each other. I also watch to see how involved they are going to be in everything the recruit is doing, don’t need a parent telling me how to coach their son or daughter”. – D1 Men’s and Women’s Coach

“A lot! I will not recruit a player that has a know it all parent or overbearing parent because I don’t want the hassle – D2 Men’s and Women’s Coach

“Parent behavior doesn’t’ have an ulitmate influence, but it is a factor.” – D1 Women’s Coach

What mistake do you see most often happen throughout the recruiting process?

“Expectations of getting a huge $$$ scholarship.” – D1 Men’s Coach

“I feel like kids put too much emphasis on simply their scores, and although they are important, it is also great to see how a kid handles themselves through the ups and downs. We are always doing our homework in the recruiting process, so chances are that we will know a lot about the kid.” – D1 Women’s Coach

“Players (especially girls) thinking there is more scholarship money than there really is available.” – D2 Men’s and Women’s Coach

“When guys early commit to an institution before thinking about all the consequences such as playing time.” – D1 Men’s Coach

“Waiting too late to begin the process and expecting the coach to make the first contact. If you’re interested, let coaches know as soon as possible.” – D1 Men’s and Women’s Coach

“Make sure the recruit responds promptly to the coach if they trying to contact you. I’ve had players put me on the back burner and I lost interest” – D2 Men’s and Women’s Coach

“That players don’t see the whole picture of how a program is run or how the coach handles his teams or his style of coaching. Some coaches think they are the next swing guru and try to change players. That’s why there are so many transfers. Do a good job of reading the character and integrity of the coach and what the coaches like.” – D2 Men’s and Women’s Coach

What else beyond their golf game can they do to better prepare for college golf?

“Time management is the biggest problem for Freshman. If you can start making a weekly schedule now it will help you when you get to college.” – Division 1 Women’s Coach

“Work hard in school. Take Honors and AP classes. The harder you work in high school, the easier it will be in college. You’ll have a better foundation and be less stressed about golf. You cannot work too hard in high school!!” – Division 1 Women’s Coach

“Academics! 9th grade means as much as 12th grade. The better your grades the better options you will have for scholarship opportunities.” – Division 1 Women’s Coach

“Improved interpersonal communications skills; modern technology has all but killed the ability for young players to hold meaningful conversations. Improved time management skills to help manage the year around golf schedule in college.” – Division 2 Men’s and Women’s Coach

“Fitness, get ahead on taking SAT/ACT, looking for academic scholarship opportunities, Having a good understanding of their equipment.” – Division 1 Women’s Coach

“Working out. Start working on golf specific stuff in the weight room on a regular basis.” – Division 2 Men’s and Women’s Coach

“Work hard in school and learn how to manage your time! I am more likely to recruit a player with a higher GPA and it will help you transition into college” – Division 2 Women’s Coach

“Do things for yourself: tournament schedule, set up golf lessons, email coaches, sign up for SAT, learn how to do your own laundry, etc. This will help prepare them for being away from home at college, no one will do things for them there”. – Division 1 Men’s and Women’s Coach

“Become stronger, independence–figure out what you want to get out of college golf.” – Division 1 Women’s Coach

“Time management and personal independence.” – Division 2 Men’s and Women’s Coach

“The ability to travel on their own and being mature is a great asset as they transition to college golf.” – Division 1 Women’s Coach

“Be organized. Stop relying on mom and dad to take care of things.” – Division 1 Men’s Coach

“Fitness. 36 hole days are brutal.” – Division 1 Women’s Coach

Some of these ideas may be surprises to you and your junior. Take the time to pick out your top three, make a plan, work the plan, and see your dreams start to come alive. Now, go do it – I know you can!