How much should my child practice?

This is a really difficult question and the honest answer is: it depends.

General information is set out in the Long-Term Player Development Guide (LTPD) for golf and the answer varies, depending on:

  • The age of the child
  • The standard of the child
  • The mental approach of the child
  • The commitment of the child
  • The ambition and goals of the child
  • How much time, realistically, the child has to practice
  • Commitments to family, school and other sports

The best way to approach this question is to review the LTPD, paying particular attention to the levels of practice necessary to reach an elite level. Along with your child’s coach, you can then come to a decision based on what's right for your child’s ambitions and goals – do they want to be a top-level player in their district or province, or are they interested in pursuing excellence among all players in Canada, or the world? Reaching these respective levels requires different levels of commitment and programming.

The 10,000 hour rule

Research has shown that it takes around 10 years and 10,000 hours to reach an elite, world-class level in sport. Research suggests that time spent training to become a world-class golfer far exceeds this number. These hours are made up of sport-specific training, physical training and other sports (typically played during the athlete’s earlier years).

The mathematicians among you will have already figured out the frightening implication that this comes to about three hours a day over 10 years!

While a substantial time commitment is necessary to reach elite levels, it is important to bear in mind that the 10,000 hours are weighted heavily in the latter stages of that 10-year period when the athlete will be training full time – often for over six hours a day. Additionally, in the early years, a good portion of training time should be made up of other sports, such as school sport and PE.

The 12 years-12 hours rule

This user-friendly rule is a useful guide used by the Belgian Golf Federation: it suggests that the age of 12 is a ‘balance point' where a child should do the same number of golf-specific and fitness training hours a week as their age. When the child is younger than 12, they should do slightly fewer hours a week than their age. When the child is over 12 they should train for slightly more hours a week than their age