Playground games like skipping, hopscotch and ball throwing are helping to sharpen up the skills of England’s top women and girl golfers.
They’ve just been put through their paces at one-day workshops, run by the English Ladies’ Golf Association in Bristol, Leeds and Milton Keynes.
ELGA squad members, ranging from Curtis Cup players to 12 and 13-year-old prospects, brought along their parents to watch and listen as they studied many aspects of playing the game.
Fitness was high on the agenda and the players took part in two contrasting exercise sessions.
One, with ELGA physiotherapist Lynn Booth, concentrated on core stability. “They learn to have control and stability so that when they shift their weight and swing the club they have a firm foundation from which the bigger muscles can work,” she said.
The other session, with brothers Mark and Martin Smithson of the Athletic Development Company, took some of its inspiration from playground games which depend on fundamental movements – and which help to improve balance, co-ordination, speed and agility.
So the players skipped, threw balls and developed nifty footwork on ladder layouts - as well as working out on high-tech bikes and undertaking a host of other exercises.
Martin commented: “This type of exercise is an alternative to going to the gym and you can do it in a small space and with limited resources. For example, the girls can lay down their golf clubs to make a ladder or chalk one out on the drive at home.
“When you do this kind of training you have to think about it, concentrate on those fundamental movements, while working hard. It gets away from the boredom of running on a treadmill and it also transfers into golf, which is a very much a thinking game.”
The workshops also focussed on nutrition. Leading sports dietitian Jane Griffin analysed diet diaries completed by the players and advised on healthy eating and drinking patterns. Jane’s regular articles on how all golfers can improve performance through nutrition appear on the wesbites of ELGA and the England Golf Union: www.englishladiesgolf.org and www.englishgolfunion.org
Other sessions at the workshop included course management and the benefits for players of preparing their own course planners; the latest information on ELGA’s anti-doping policy; and advice on dealing with the media.
The workshops were given the vote of approval by Kent 16-year-old Sarah Tyson, who won every major south-eastern title last season and is now a member of ELGA’s Team England U18 Squad. “The whole package is really good,” said Sarah, who plays at Redlibbets.