Norfolk boys get in shape
Norfolk's most promising boy golfers will tee up for the new season with expert advice on the mental game, physical fitness and the rules.
The county's U18, U16 and U14 squads have all been invited to a workshop at Barnham Broom on January 30 to help them prepare for the months ahead. They'll learn about coping with the mental aspects of golf from sports psychologist Dr Victor Thompson. Barnham Broom's leisure club manager Corey Knoop will take a session on physical conditioning and flexibility. County secretary David Horsburgh, a qualified referee, will work with each group on the rules.
'It's a three-pronged approach,' said Norfolk's lead coach, Nick Catchpole, who himself played for the county as a 14-year-old.
'There's a lot of talent out there and we have some wonderful courses for the boys to hone their skills on. We're doing our best as the County Golf Union to develop that talent.'
Golf coaching will resume in March, in anticipation of the first major fixture – the BUT Trophy – a triangular three-counties match which Norfolk won last year.
The sessions steer away from the mechanics of the swing, because most boys work on this with their own coaches and Catchpole's role involves liaising with the home pros to avoid any mixed messages reaching the youngsters. Instead, at county coaching they'll focus on such areas as shot shaping, short game skills, foursomes skills, the mental approach and what Catchpole describes as 'competitive coaching.'
He said: '95pc of youngsters respond very well when you say 'I bet you can't do that.'
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'They love it and it's a great way of developing their peak performance. We're trying to breed enthusiasm and make them responsible for their own improvement. We will help them – but they have to take responsibility.'
The squads will each get 25 hours of coaching, plus homework. They are all given log books which have to be brought to sessions and they are encouraged to keep statistics.
One of the goals of the coaching is to feed the men's county team – something which has been done with outstanding success over recent years with players such as Matt Bacon (Costessey Park), Luke Johnson (King's Lynn) and Tom Clements (Royal Norwich), all serving as first-team regulars. Clements is the only one of these three left in the junior ranks – and only for this season – but youngsters such as Jack Yule (Middleton Hall) will be keen to continue the tradition.
Catchpole is always on the look-out for new talent and makes the point that the training squads are fluid. Some boys will not enjoy the regime and will drop out; others will improve rapidly and become candidates to join the groups.
'There's always room for someone doing very well and who is going to be county standard,' said Catchpole. Anyone who makes significant progress and wishes to be considered for a squad should email Norfolk junior secretary Norman Blanch at firstname.lastname@example.org
The county also runs an U12 boys' squad, which tends to train in school holidays. It also works closely with the Norfolk County Golf Partnership whose coach and player programme is designed to develop promising youngsters who are currently just outside squad standard.