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Junior coaching – Ben Knight’s top tips

 

Ben Knight is a full-time coach at Chartham Park in Sussex. He is primarily responsible for developing the facility’s junior academy and operating a local schools programme in the area.

What does your role at Chartham Park involve?

I visit between 4-7 schools per week coaching between 80-200 children.  At the club I coach a range of golfers; run a series of ladies clinics, coach club golfers and also coach a number of performance players.  I have two players currently in the England Regional Squad and two hoping to secure US College scholarships.  I am also Head Sussex Junior Coach.

What were you primary goals when you decided to focus on coaching as a career choice?

Firstly, I wanted to commit to an increased school programme across the local area.  Chartham Park are very supportive of my work and it is a good opportunity to promote the club across the local community.  I have always had the goal of being seen as an expert junior coach.  Full-time coaching has also given me a little more flexibility, this is important to me with a young family.  I am now also getting the opportunity to introduce my children to the game.

What has been the most beneficial personal development experience to you and why?

Undertaking the PG Dip / Level 4 in golf coaching.  Not only has it made me far more aware of an evidenced based approach to coaching, it has also given me a greater understanding of how people learn and therefore how I can help them improve.  I am now much more mindful of the wide range of factors that may influence golfing performance.  The PG Dip gave me a fantastic opportunity to broaden my network, mix with fellow coaches and also those with an academic background.  I now feel I have a strong network to draw upon, this can be a fantastic sounding board when the need arises.

What has been your greatest challenge after focusing on coaching as your main source of income and how did you overcome it?

Creating enjoyable, active sessions for children in a school hall.  My ability to now do this means that I have created loyal clients and a large start base of children engaged in the game.

What has been key to your success as a junior coach?

Firstly, I haven take responsibility for my own learning, utilising all forms to develop my coaching, I really value informal learning and reflection and  I often take time to watch others PGA members coach.   I feel I have developed the ability to empathise  and connect with people,  I understand that I need to adjust my approach to meet their needs and requirements.  I have also invested in technology, and ensured I use it appropriately to meet the needs and expectations of the players I coach.

How do you engage with new customers who may have never considered playing the game before?

I have benefited greatly through outreach work, as a full-time coach I have the time and the opportunity to visit people in their environment, where they feel comfortable.  This is then a good opportunity to introduce them to the game.  I am also fortunate with the facilities I have at Chartham Park, we have a gym so there is a large footfall of potential future golfers already on site.

What are your current aspirations with your coaching business?

I would like to continue to expand the performance side of my business.  I am near to completing my MSC, this is examining parents expectations and experiences of junior golf lessons.  I am also looking to develop a weather proof facility.  I will continue to invest time and the necessary finances in order to develop myself and any relevant tools needed to give the best service I can.

What key tips would you provide new coaches who are trying to establish their business?

Build relationships, talk to people, do the simple things well, show them that you really care.  For example, communication between lessons.  Keep learning and keep an open mind.  Pick up the phone and talk to me, I would be keen talk to any fellow coaches. Take golf lessons with different coaches to gain a well-rounded approach.  Challenge information presented, ask lots of questions.  Get a good mentor.