Developing skill: complete example

How to teach a golf shot!

Chapter 8: Learning a Skill: Complete Example

Now let's combine all the learning stages and teaching techniques we have discussed so far to teach a golf shot.

How To Teach a Golf Shot

Before you start teaching, place an appropriately-sized plastic golf club, balls (we used table tennis balls), and/or balloons in your room. Allow your child to explore and play (create the right environment).

1. Explain the skill: e.g. “Today we are playing golf. We are going to learn how to hit a golf shot.”


2. Demonstrate the skill: Give your child a picture of what you are trying to achieve.


3. Perform the skill together.


Balloons are great for beginners as it is almost impossible not to hit a balloon. 


4. Perform the skill semi-independently: I am always nearby to praise and support with verbal or non-verbal feedback. It is also important to create a challenge at this stage, as it will motivate your Diddy to keep trying again and again. We tried to hit the balloon into our big blue tub. It wasn’t easy!


5. Perform the skill independently: After a few assisted tries, your child will often let you know that they are ready to try on their own! Even though you aren’t as hands on in this stage, you are always there to give lots of praise and support.


6. Differentiation: As your child grows in confidence and the skill becomes more refined, you can adjust the target or change the equipment to increase the challenge. Here we use a small ball (table tennis ball). Use a tee to lift the ball off the floor if needed.

Work your way towards smaller golf-sized balls. We used a balloon, a football, soft tennis balls and then table tennis balls - for safety do not use a real golf ball! With such a small ball, just practicing hitting is important. But we quickly brought in a target for further motivation. Here Diddy tries to hit the camera!

Repeat the cycle of increasing the challenge as your child starts to have more success (literally “moving the goalposts”). You want your child to stay in that sweet spot between finding the challenge too easy and seeing the challenge as unattainable.

Big target to small target. We moved on to using toys as the targets and then from 4 teddies down to 1 teddy.

Once a consistent golf shot has been established, it is time to use your imagination to develop further challenges. Diddy tried to hit the ball into the bullseye of the chipping net and Diddy Roo tried to hit the ball up the ramp and into Tigger's hoop.

Diddy was hitting the golf ball at a small target (his trains) beautifully so I decided to challenge him further. I asked him if he could direct a moving golf ball to hit a small, specific target.

7. Feedback Loop: Here is the most important part!

Use praise, positive encouragement and positive feedback at every opportunity throughout the challenges, and if something funny or unexpected happens make a joke about it! Have fun, smile, laugh, and always remember... lots of praise!

Some important things to remember!

  1. Your child should be involved in deciding the challenge and when to stop for the day. If you think your child is losing interest, try to wrap up on a funny moment.
  2. Take everything in this guide as advice , but not as law! You and your child are unique so play games that you are interested in. Use equipment you have to hand and let your Diddy imagine their very own challenges!
  3. There’s no rush to get to ‘completion’. These stages might take many play sessions over many months or even years. There will also be some days when skills will have disappeared completely! Just adjust the challenge accordingly  to keep it fun and motivating. The challenge below took us about 2 years to complete!


Good luck and enjoy every minute of your time together!


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The Sport Diddy Handbook