4: Restricted growth – (short stature)
There are over 200 types of restricted growth that can be grouped together as ‘dwarfism conditions’ – the most common being achondroplasia.
An individual participating in sport can be involved in most activities, and the Dwarf Sports Association UK (DSAuk) is one of the leading organisations for sport for people with dwarfism conditions.
DSAuk believes sport is important for participants’ development and integration with their peers. Many restricted growth athletes often access and enjoy a spectrum of different sports, golf is also an extremely popular activity for people with restricted growth. EDGA has worked closely with the DSAuk to develop a coaching and player pathway for golfers with restricted growth.
Regular exercise can make a big difference to the lifestyle and well-being of a person with restricted growth.
There are a few skeletal and potential joint-stability problems that golf coaches should bear in mind when working with participants with restricted growth:
- Many people with achondroplasia have a kyphosis or scoliosis of their spine. Constant shock to the back can cause damage to this area.
- Participants may have a spinal stenosis, which is a pinching of the spinal column caused by having restricted space within the vertebrae for the spinal column to pass through.
- People with restricted growth can have quite relaxed joints, and their elbows, hips and knees, especially, can be unstable. This is usually seen in the joints being extremely flexible. This can however be advantageous in developing greater motion, swing arc length and speed. Many athletes can have a bowing of the legs, which may result in problems with their ankles and affect pressure distribution within the golf swing.
However, the more involved in regular exercise individuals are, the better the muscle tone around problem areas is maintained, and, therefore, the more stable these joints become.
- Talk to the golfer – complete your research into their individual condition – be prepared with your findings in your next coaching session with the individual.
- Provide a selection of modified equipment – different lengths, weights, materials, handle sizes, support the player with a professional equipment fitting when appropriate.
- When utilising traditional equipment – ensure that the static and dynamic ‘lie-angles’ are suitable to develop control over direction and consistency.
- Relate the game to other sports – players with restricted growth are usually very active in other sports – the coach can then find a commonality and draw on this in the golf coaching session.
- Restricted growth players are able to harness high levels of clubhead and ball speed – ensure to develop sequenced motion patterns which may include more head rotation to maximise swing/arc length.