Body, Coaching, Podcast

Exactly how Golf Australia develops elite level junior golfers

We talk with two coaches involved in the Golf Australia high performance program and learn how they’re developing some of the best golfers in the world like Cameron Smith and Minjee Lee.

Nick Randall is a strength and conditioning coach and owner of Golf Fit Pro. He has worked with all levels of golfers, primarily focusing on junior golfers including Cameron Smith for the past 7-8 years.

Richard Woodhouse is the 2013 & 2015 Qld PGA Teacher of the year and 2016 PGA of Australia National Teacher of the Year. Richard overseas all programs at KDV Sport Golf Academy and heads up the High Performance program at KDV Sport. Richard works with multiple Tour players, state and national level amateurs.

Golf Australia has tournaments that are running throughout the year and from those tournaments, the state level tournament or the national tournament’s players will then be selected based on different age groups.

Based on the squads they go into squad trainings on a monthly basis where the coaches run sessions. Their objective as coaches is to help develop the juniors skills along with their instructors at home and provide a platform for them to keep continuing development.

Putting the players into teams or into squads or groups is I think is an underutilized skill with, with coaching in the sense whereby very rarely do we, I’ll be able to get the players competing outside of normal competition and tournaments.

So being able to observe the players from their body language, from their self talk, how they deal with adversity, what decisions they go through, decision making processes they go through when we set up skills, challenges for them. And from my point of view, trying to make the trainings as uncomfortable as possible. So finding the players currency, what makes them, what puts them under pressure.

Fitness and training for junior golfers

We need to start with Nick Randall’s non-negotiables for elite juniors… 1 – Postural Control 2 – Stability 3 – Mobility

Nick has worked with Cameron Smith for the past 7-8 years and told the story of his original work they did to keep him in top form.

Cameron Smith first came to me at the age of 15 and was like a coat hanger with skin draped over the top… and it was a twisted coat hanger as well.

He exhibited many of the most common issues like a tight right side, low right shoulder, chronically tight left upper trap, and neck. He basically had range of motion issues because of a lack of stability and was in pain and discomfort most of the time.

We had to do a fair bit of work just to get him back to a somewhat neutral position.

A lot of it was posture retraining. We used the GravityFit system heavily for that at the start to give him the deep muscle stimulus and the postural awareness.

It was a lot of postural correction, mobility, range of motion, basic stability, and control. And then we progressed into loading them up with more traditional strength and conditioning movements.

But that was all balanced on a schedule that was pretty intense. He was one of the best amateur players in the world and he was traveling all the time.

One of the issues we struggled with was regression. At home he’d get regular attention, and his physical attributes would improve. Then he’d travel slack off a little bit, sit on planes for hours, play a lot of golf, and you’d see this regression and then he’d come home and get better and then go away and regress.

Gradually he came around to the process and by the time he turned pro when he was 19, he was actually doing a good job with his maintenance and work.


This Episode’s Sponsor

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Founder and chief curator of the Golf Science Lab. Documenting what's going on in the world of research and beyond that can help you play your best golf on the golf course (when it counts). Join the movement of researched based coaching over trusting beliefs and what worked for one person a few decades ago. Follow on Twitter