What to Consider When Choosing a Sports Academy.

Group of IJGA golfers smile and walk together on the golf course

Choosing a sports academy is a huge decision for you and your child. Before enrolling, you must consider student support, academics, and training programs.

What would your child’s boarding school life look like if you could wave a magic wand? What are your priorities for your child? What are their priorities? 

We’ve raised some questions to ask and consider when choosing a golf boarding school.

Support and Living Independently 

It’s intimidating for parents to give their children independence while not living at home. It’s crucial to consider what boundaries are needed for students living away while attending school. 

Questions parents should ask themselves and potential boarding schools include: 

  1. What challenges do you think your child might encounter?
  2. Are there systems in place at the boarding school to guide your child through those challenges?
  3. How is their housing team structured? 
  4. Does the housing team provide mentoring and life-skills coaching to develop students and build character? 

While away from home during adolescence, students need clear boundaries and sensible, consistent supervision from skilled “house parents.” Boarding sports academies should employ experienced staff as supervisors and emotional support to guide students through the challenges they’ll face away from home. 

From the beginning, we focused on intrinsic motivation, character development, and doing things differently from other golf academies.

Students need emotional support, academic support, and an individualized approach so that each student-athlete receives what they need to improve their game.

Our student-athletes are housed in private homes and condos in a gated community. In student housing, they’re surrounded and supported by experienced house parents. 

These are homes, not dorms. This is their home away from home. We replicate what living at home brings— balancing discipline and downtime to bring out the best in our students.

IJGA was founded on the belief that every young athlete should be given the best opportunity for success in sports and education. Our executive team, with nearly 200 years of combined sports academy experience, constantly emphasizes the importance of holding ourselves to those standards. 

Educational Success 

Many boarding schools look and sound impressive, but it’s important to do your research.

What is the size of the student body? 

Some academies educate a much smaller range of students. Consider class size when choosing a new school. 

If you and your child want a full-time immersive academy, are these numbers sufficient for interaction and sociability? Does a small academy support college placement? Are there adequate mental and physical programs with character and leadership support?

When considering larger academies with a student body over 150, you might be wary of yet another “sports academy factory.” 

With a larger size, how do you ensure your student is academically prepared for college? The last thing any student-athlete would want is to quit the golf team to focus on their studies due to being academically unprepared. 

How important is education to you and your child? 

When preparing for college, we all know grades are important. However, learning to study and creating a passion for learning is critical for success. 

Before enrolling in a new academy, see what programs are in place to ensure academic achievement. 

Ask your potential academy questions like: 

  1. Are there after-school programs in place? 
  2. Does your team offer academic mentorship programs? 
  3. Is there allotted quiet study time? 

With over 100 years of educational experience, Montverde Academy is an international, co-educational, college preparatory school that offers considerable advantages to IJGA student-athletes seeking the highest quality education. 

Discipline and rigor in our academic curriculum are a feature of life here. Most students are here because they seek to play golf at a leading college. To play at the next level, students must excel on the golf course and demonstrate a track record of academic achievement. 

Starting in the ninth grade, students build their GPA for college acceptance. IJGA also offers students access to the Learning Center on campus, headed by the Director of Academics. Student-athletes can use specialist tutors for various subjects, including ESL, SAT, and ACT preparation. 

Mental Coaching and Conditioning

We know half of succeeding in golf is mental. When choosing a golf academy, it’s essential to ensure your junior golfer is supported mentally by an experienced coaching staff. 

When you decide which academy is right for you, ask questions regarding mental coaching, like: 

  1. How is your child’s mental side of the game, and how do they manage competition? 
  2. How often will my child receive mental conditioning, and by whom?
  3. What background and experience does this coach have?

There are many good golf instructors, but what makes an excellent coaching program? 

A junior golf program should be flexible to the needs of the student-athletes, developing the mental side of training and guiding athletes to be competitors. 

An excellent coaching program is flexible to the needs of the athletes. IJGA places a strong emphasis on building mental skills.

Our mental performance program helps athletes manage their tendencies and become mentally stronger. Students are encouraged to create clear process goals, learn to focus on what’s in their control, and develop on-course skills to promote grit.

Physical Conditioning & Nutrition

A junior golfer’s functional fitness and strength and conditioning are vital to their success on and off the course. For endurance, injury prevention, and promoting peak performance, strength and conditioning is a core part of the golf program at IJGA.

Questions to consider when choosing a program to meet physical training needs include: 

  1. How developed is your child’s fitness? 
  2. How often will my child receive physical conditioning, and by whom? 
  3. Does this program offer pre-habilitation and rehabilitation? 
  4. What diet works best to fit my child’s nutritional needs? 
  5. How does meal timing work, and how is the program balancing food groups? 
  6. How will nutritionists work with my child to create strategies for healthy eating? 

At IJGA Bishops Gate, boarding students eat all their meals in Champions Hall, the Clubhouse at IJGA.

Related Post: Nutrition for a Better Golf Game

We utilize an in-house catering service led by our executive chef and catering team.  Nutritional experts on staff assist students in how to best navigate their choices and help create strategies for healthy eating. Educational sessions throughout the year help to develop these skills further.

Student Culture 

IJGA student-athletes share the experience of sacrifice in leaving home, courage in typically coming to a foreign country to study in a different language, and ambition to become a professional or collegiate-level golfer. 

Taking a closer look at the student culture at a sports academy can reveal if an institution is a good fit for your child. Ask yourself questions like: 

  1. Does your child prefer people around or alone time?
  2. Does your child have an easy time making friends? 
  3. Do they like being in a larger or smaller group? 

Peer group interactions and school culture are among the most influential factors in academic success. Further, a mounting body of evidence indicates students who receive programming focused on leadership, community, and character academically outperform their peers, get better grades, and graduate at higher rates.

Our most valuable asset at IJGA is our student peer group, which is second to none. Not only do our students benefit from this peer interaction, but it also lends them leadership opportunities. 

Related Post: Why IJGA is the International Full-Time Golf Academy of Choice 

Maintaining our student body at less than one hundred students preserves the intimacy and familiarity of this peer group.

Character Development 

Integrating character development into sports and academics provides a healthy social experience. 

Character, grit, discipline, self-esteem, self-confidence, and sociability are essential traits for a teenager to develop. These traits influence improvement in the course and the classroom. 

The most important of these traits is character. Without character, there is no reliable route ahead in relationships, friendships, and business dealings. Professionals often recruit for character, then develop other skills, knowing that developing character later in life is unlikely.

Ask yourself these questions about character development when searching for a new academy: 

  1. Are there any leadership opportunities for the student-athletes?
  2. How does the boarding school offer responsibility and tutoring in leadership?

If character is the most important trait, how do we develop it? Family influence and their friends and teachers at school are essential. 

The most important way to develop character is to test an individual under pressure, have them experience challenges and failure, and grow stronger through the lessons learned. The guidance of a mentor is critical during these challenges. 

Developing a golf swing, short-game skills, and mental discipline takes hard work and perseverance. 

Students passionate about their sport learn the rewards of hard work and gain determination from failure. Students who become champions know how to develop purpose in everything they do, manage their time, and set realistic goals to succeed.

IJGA has a peer-mentoring and leadership model known as IJGA Ambassadors and a college athlete character program called HABITUDES. 

We leverage the leadership potential of students critical to college and career success through these programs that harness the power of peers. 


IJGA’s facility is built solely for students. They take priority over everyone else on the course. 

Students walk out their door to the range and can practice any time of the day, night, or weekend.

When choosing the right golf facility for your athlete, consider these questions: 

  1. Does your facility lend itself to the needs of the students? 
  2. How often is the facility open to them for practice? 
  3. Is the facility available on the weekend?

Our golf training facility surpasses all others, with no exception. IJGA features a golf course that provides challenges on every shot and a state-of-the-art practice facility that brings the course to the range to simulate competitive conditions in training. 

Our extensive campus includes a tennis court, swimming pool, well-appointed condominium housing, a full-service catering center, and an education building to support academic and college preparation success.

Choose IJGA for Your Full-Time Golf Academy

Consider attending our full-time academy program for a high-performance academy that combines world-class training with college preparatory academics and exceptional character development.

Contact the staff at IJGA or see our admissions guide to learn more. 

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