Jordan Spieth's mom talks about raising well-rounded athlete

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Jordan Spieth's mom talks about raising well-rounded athlete

PGA Tour

Jordan Spieth's mom talks about raising well-rounded athlete

Editor’s note: This story originally ran in the Feb. 15, 2016, issue of Golfweek.

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Christine Spieth speaks from a position of authority regarding specialization in sports. Jordan Spieth, the oldest of Shawn and Christine’s three children, grew up in Dallas playing whatever sport was in season. He didn’t devote himself to golf year-round until he was a teen. How’d that work out? Pretty well for the two-time major champion and World No. 1, most would agree. Spieth’s mother shared some of her insight with Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols about how to raise a well-rounded athlete, and perhaps even a world-beater in the process.

Golfweek: What advice would you give parents who are trying to decide when it’s a good time to specialize?

CS: My advice to parents regarding specialization is to let them play anything and everything they want until they are ready to give it up. Looking back, it was amazing to me that once one sports season ended, Jordan would want to jump right into the next sport without missing the one that ended. Because we let our boys play anything that they were interested in, we were very busy transporting them to and from all their practices and games.

GW: Can you outline for me how long Jordan played each sport, and when he started asking if he could quit them all for golf?

CS: Jordan began wanting to go to the golf course (Brookhaven Country Club in Dallas) in the summer when he was 9 years old and any day after school that he did not have a practice or a game for another sport he was playing at the time. So until he was about 13 years old, golf was secondary to the team sports he played. Here is my best-guess outline:

Age: 4-10: Soccer (outdoor and indoor)

Age: 11-12: Football

Age 5-13: Basketball

Age 5-12: Baseball

When he was 12 years old, he won a big golf tournament (Starburst) in Waco, Texas, in the Champions division, playing up in his age against 15-18-year-olds. He had won the same tournament the previous two years in his age group and wanted more competition, so we let him move up. That is when we knew he was serious about wanting to give up baseball. He had been a really good baseball player on a traveling select team (pitcher and first base), and it was a lot of fun for our whole family, but we never questioned his decision. He played basketball through eighth grade, since it is a winter sport and did not take him away from the golf course very much. Everything else was given up by the end of seventh grade (12 years old). That is the same summer he started taking lessons from Cameron McCormick.

GW: What traits do you see in Jordan now that you think were developed playing team sports?

CS: Jordan played on highly competitive sports teams (basketball and baseball) with many boys who ended up going to college to play D1 sports (baseball, football and basketball). I have no doubt that he would have played D1 baseball if he had continued to play in high school. He is a “team” player first and foremost. That is why he loves the team events (Walker Cup, Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup). I think playing team sports helped him develop leadership skills, too. More than anything, he developed the mindset of “winning” on these teams and therefore wanted to “win” at everything. Team sports also helped develop his work ethic. His teams practiced a lot more than others, and he saw the difference early on of what it took to practice.

One of the reasons he lost his interest in baseball is because he felt he wasn’t able to work on his batting enough to stay in the No. 2 batting position on the select team. He wanted to give 100 percent but couldn’t because he was beginning to work more on his golf game.

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