The Benefits of Being a Multi-Sport Athlete in Junior Golf
What do Jordan Spieth (#2 in the world golf rankings), Dustin Johnson (#1 in the world golf rankings), Justin Thomas (#4 in the world golf rankings) and Ricky Fowler (#7 in the world golf rankings) all have in common? Besides being professional golfers, and all within the top 10 in the world rankings, they also all played multiple sports well into high school.
Jordan Spieth excelled as a quarterback, and a pitcher, and Dustin Johnson is an athletic freak, from dunking a basketball to performing a single leg squat with ease. Justin Thomas even played high school basketball and Ricky Fowler is known for his love of competitive motocross. So why is it so important that we encourage junior golfers to participate in other sports outside of golf?
The simple truth is this:
1) Playing other sports can teach valuable fundamental movement skills needed in golf, and when discovered in other sport settings, they tend to transfer much quicker into golf. For example, throwing a baseball or a football, or even shooting a basketball, you have to learn how to generate power from the ground up. In golf, we call this Ground Reaction Force and it’s not only a huge piece to the puzzle when it comes to club speed, but it also teaches how to properly transfer that energy through the body and into the ball or golf club.
2) Team sports help junior golfers develop important Psychological Characteristics of Excellence. We never want to see our loved ones fail, but the more we fail and get back up, the more resilience we develop to defeat, which in golf is vital because you lose more events than you win. Even the best players on the PGA Tour only win maybe 5% of the events they enter. A lot can be learned from team sports as well and it’s important that students get the opportunity to succeed and fail in all settings. What more, if your junior golfer plays at a collegiate level, the format is team based as your actions affect the whole team.
3) Being a multi-sport athlete helps prevent injuries and burnout, which is something all of us coaches have seen far too often. Golf is a very repetitive motion, swinging and twisting our bodies on one side. There was a study performed in 2010 to 2013 by Dr. Neeru Jayanthi, and he found that athletes ages 8-18 who train intensively in one sport have a significantly higher risks of overuse injuries. His study even concluded that junior athletes who spend more hours per week than their age playing one sport were 70% more likely to experience serious overuse injuries (www.changingthegameproject.com).
Going even further into the research done on this topic, in 2014 the US Olympic Committee completed a survey on their Olympians and found that on average, they played three sports per year from ages 10-14 and over two sports per year from 15-18.
By no means is the goal of this blog to deter parents or athletes from perusing one sport of interest or to stop people from participating in golf. At AJ Golf Academy, it is our goal to grow this great game and help kindle a passion and love for the sport. We have all seen and heard stories of golfers with incredible talent leave the game, and it is our mission to prevent the number of these stories from increasing.