Five Questions: John Bierkan

This month’s Golf Digest included a special feature titled “The Best Young Teachers in America” (Coaches under age 40). U.S. Kids Golf is proud (but not surprised) to see 18 members of our Coaches Institute listed. We had to a chance to talk to one of our Certified Coaches who was listed, John Bierkan from Aronimink Golf Club, on what makes a good teacher and why he’s proud to be #USKidsGolf.

1. What makes for a good youth golf coach?
A good youth golf coach makes learning golf both educational and fun and meets the learning needs of each child. The environment also helps to promote a lifelong enjoyment of the game.

2. How much of your day is focused around young players?
Some days it might be a few hours and other days it could be several hours. As Director of Instruction at Aronimink Golf Club, my responsibilities are broad. I teach private lessons, ladies clinics, junior clinics and instruction for our big summer junior program. In all, I will teach well over 100 hours of junior clinics from April through October. Additionally, many of my private lessons are with kids.

3. Is there a particular part of the Certified Coach program that you find to have helped your programs the most?
The game-based learning has proven to be most effective aspect of the U.S. Kids Golf Certified Coaches program to help our junior program. Specifically, this has made our clinics more engaging, more interactive, more entertaining and absolutely more fun for the children. Plus, it’s a simple way to help kids improve and gain confidence.

4. What’s the one tip every parent needs to know to help their kids develop in their games?
The one tip that parents need to know to help their children develop their games is to get properly fit clubs. I would highly encourage them to seek out their local PGA Professional and use the US Kids Golf Fitting Chart. The one major mistake I see parents make all the time is buying clubs off the shelf for their children that are too long and too heavy.

5. We encourage of game-based learning, have you found one game in particular that your students especially enjoy?
The children really enjoy all the different games. However, the one game that I use often because the kids have so much fun is Last-One-Standing for putting. One of the reasons why I think the kids enjoy it so much is that it’s a competition both amongst themselves and the group. From a coach’s perspective, I really like it because if a child gets knocked out to the sidelines, the game goes so quickly that you can reset and start a new game within a minute or two. This way the entire group stays involved.

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