GFAA Best Practice: Implement Fitness Programming for Juniors

Beth Diaz is the Director of Fitness at Atlantic Beach Country Club in Atlantic Beach, Florida.

Beth Diaz on the importance of implementing fitness programming for juniors:

Golf fitness is no longer just for professional golfers, or advanced amateurs rehabbing their bodies – it has become part of many player development programs, including those geared towards juniors. With 850 junior members, we are creating a program that goes beyond just golf, and applies concepts that will help all young athletes, regardless of what sport they play. We recently launched our “Long-Term Athletic Development Program” with a video email to all our parents detailing the mission and goals of the program, as well as the details of what the program entails. Providing this information allowed parents the opportunity to consider the merits of the program and the benefits for their child. We would usually host a parent workshop, bringing everyone together to introduce the program and provide this information, but with the COVID pandemic in 2020, we opted for the video instead. The program is designed to create well-rounded athletes by offering movement patterns that complement the repetitive motions kids encounter in their primary sport. With such repetition, we often ignore a good portion of the body that does not contribute to those motions – this program is in place to address those untapped movements and muscles. The format of the program includes various stations that have participants going through motions, such as throwing, kicking and jumping. Each participant spends no more than three minutes at each station, ensuring they are fully-engaged for the whole activity before getting bored or distracted. The youngest participants (ages 5-9) work on fundamental movements, whereas the next level (ages 10-13) gets more sports-specific. Beyond that, one-on-one training becomes the optimal way to continued growth and progress.

Beth Diaz on the business impact of implementing fitness programming for juniors:

Implementing a fitness protocol for your youngest members is a good first step in their understanding the importance of good fitness and nutrition for sports, as well as their lives as a whole. Of the 850 juniors mentioned, only a fraction of them play golf. Our junior fitness program creates athletes who can adapt to different physical scenarios and have strength, balance and mobility in a multi-faceted manner, and not just as it pertains to their primary sport. Gearing your junior fitness program to just golfers lessens your participation pool and omits some of the benefits that an all-purpose curriculum could mean for their growing bodies. We put a monthly subscription plan in place to ensure we receive the same commitment as we promise them. In addition, this plan provides more structure to the sign-up process and ensures the number of participants we have in any one session is controlled, another aspect that was more important than ever when we launched the program. It helps that our instructors and trainers know how many kids to expect in their sessions so we can plan accordingly both in setting up and in how we conduct the activities. Having facilitated similar programs at previous facilities, this payment structure has worked far better for us than any pay-as-you-go policy has.

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