Over coaching in youth sports is a common occurrence these days. Regardless of the sport, you can witness coaches and parents over coaching young athletes at nearly every sporting event you attend. Though I can understand the reasons for wanting to be as helpful as possible, this over coaching typically has a negative effect on the child. As a coach myself, I am likely a bit more aware of this over coaching problem than some of you. I do my best to monitor my suggestions, so that the athletes I work with can develop a skill set best suited for them. Two sports I am actively involved in are baseball, and obviously golf. In both cases, I am becoming increasingly aware of the negative effect that over coaching has on many of the young athletes. The players I am referring to are all under the age of 10, so I understand the importance of coaching proper fundamentals. However, in addition to learning valuable fundamentals, kids need to be allowed to develop their own instinct for how to play the game. I was a typical kid growing up, playing nearly every sport imaginable. When I held a baseball, I threw it towards the person playing catch with me. When I bounced a basketball, I dribbled with one hand and put all of my energy into launching the ball towards the basket. And when I played golf, I tried to hit the ball as far as I could without falling over. I understood the object of the games I played, and I never felt concerned that I wasn’t doing it correctly. Young athletes these days are so concerned about making a mistake that they often aren’t allowed to reach their full potential. This is a result of over coaching. What I do with my young golfers is blend a combination of coaching with an increasing amount of freedom to play the game. I generally don’t set up alignment sticks, or give them exact yardage to the hole. Instead, I have them aim at various objects around the practice range. One shot might be intended for a palm tree in the distance, while another might be trying to hit the moving range cart. By not offering exact yardage to their target, I am asking my players to develop a better sense of feel between their eyes and their hands. Golf is an extremely difficult game to learn as an adult. By the time you begin, you have most likely already been told by your friends about making sure to “not bend your left arm, and don’t look up.” This same type of advice can be damaging to kids at a younger age. Learn to let them play the game by developing their own instinct. As they learn the game and grow stronger, then they will be a bit more receptive to some more coaching. Keep the coaching to a minimum while they play, and the experience will be better for everyone involved.