New Year’s Resolution: Improving Golf Fitness

Whenever a new year approaches, many people look back over the past year and consider what they would like to improve or work toward in the coming months. For a golf athlete, your resolution could be improving your physical performance in order to improve your game. Here is a quick step by step process to get started.

  • Find a professional to work with, ideally someone that is certified with the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) to focus specifically on your golf fitness goals. Our students at the Academy are fortunate to have TPI certified Director of Performance Training, Shawn Mehring to assist in their goals. If you cannot attend the Academy with us, go to http://www.mytpi.com/experts and find a TPI Certified Fitness Trainer.
    1. This fitness trainer will have the availability to complete a Level 1 Mobility Screen. This screening process will take you through every possible movement in relation to a golf swing and find your limitations.
  • With your TPI Trainer, sign up for personal training sessions to improve your limitations.
    1. You do not want to program your own workout. There’s a ton of knowledge and resources a trainer has, especially when it comes to modifying exercises and phases of training, that they will utilize when designing a personalized program.
  • DON’T GIVE UP! Changes do not occur in a week or even two. It may take months for you to improve a limitation. You will excel at some exercises and training elements, but there will also be some that you struggle with. The struggles are the most important part to improving abilities. It lets you know the most important aspects on which to focus. Once you improve the limitations, your golf game will improve dramatically. Your scores may not improve immediately – but your mobility, swing mechanics, posture and overall well-being will change.

The golf fitness world is growing at a very fast rate. There are a lot of certified professionals who specialize in golf fitness. You don’t have to train as a body builder, powerlifter, or crossfitter just to be in shape. Although your program may include those aspects, you will focus a lot on mobility, stability, posture, core activation and power development.

Utilizing these steps and setting small goals to help build to your ultimate goal are a fantastic way to start the new year on the right foot. Getting into better physical shape will not only improve your daily life but also help dramatically on the golf course with added stamina, strength and flexibility.

2018 Assessments and Blueprinting

Assessments and Blueprinting

It is so exciting to enter the new semester here at IJGA. As you may know, our individual coaching program is guided by gathering facts on each player and creating a fact-based road map of improvement. At the start of the first semester we conducted a week long Assessments and Blueprinting study. We have done the same thing at the start of this semester to measure improvement and to provide the current location on the developmental map of each student.

During the Assessment process, the students go through a series of tests using the science and art side of the game. The science side includes TrackMan, 3D, BODITRAK, SAM PuttLab, and video. From this technology we can make an informed choice rather than an opinionated guess as to what the player needs to do. It also has the advantage of allowing us to measure progress. We measure the art side, although this data is less quantitative and more qualitative. We test putting skills, pre-shot routines, shaping shots, different lies, mental awareness as well as hold a two-day tournament. Along with a robust physical screening in the gym, we have a comprehensive approach which encompasses all the skills and disciplines in this complicated game.

Student Assessment Day Video

Students worked tirelessly to have renowned IJGA coaches observe their swing style, mobility, strength and overall golf abilities. This day is essential for coaches to determine where each student’s strengths and weaknesses lie. This data is then collected for the Blueprinting process.

Student Blueprinting Video

The road map we create is called a Blueprint. It is delivered in a round table format by the coaching staff and specialists involved during the testing. Each student has a consultation slot and listens to the evidence as well as the solutions to what they do. It is as enlightening for the students as it is for the coaches, and creates team collaboration which is what makes IJGA so special.

Following the Blueprinting Day, we begin to implement individual Blueprinting plans. We are currently undertaking two weeks of technical training. This where we make the changes and adjustments to gain a more reliable technique that can work under pressure. What follows is a period known as blending, in which we trust the new mechanics and start to use them.

It has been a well planned and well received process so far and we look forward to the continued improvement of our students.

Jonathan Yarwood, Director of Golf

Try This to Improve Your Golf Game

The Best Way to Improve your Golf Game

Retention and Transfer

Over the last 30 years technological improvements within the game of golf have been amazing. We now have golf balls that fly further and straighter with less spin. We have a better physiological understanding of how the golf swing works through 3D analysis. Ground pressure plates such as Swing Catalyst, TrackMan and other launch monitors all play their part in understanding what happens within the swing and the effects the swing has on the golf ball. Combine this with improved aerodynamics of golf balls and the sheer number of options you can choose from to improve is incredible. Matching your swing speed and spin rates gathered from a launch monitor data enables you to choose the most suitable ball.

Over the same 30-year period, the average handicap within the game has hardly improved however. People still quit the game due to its complexity and difficulty, finding that the hours and hours spent on hitting thousands of balls is worthless. For years people have sought new technology that will make everything easy and cause the ball to fly high and straight, and for a brief period their golf game may look a little better, but it then plateaus, and performance falls again. To understand how to improve, you must understand how our brain works and more importantly how our brain retains information and how we can best transfer our skills from the range to the golf course.

We need look at how we practice. Most people have heard of the terms Block Practice and Random Practice. These are both great ways to help improvement, though to gain the most from these you must be very specific in what you are trying to do. Achieving improvement that lasts over a longer time requires a high level of concentration and a task where your performance can be measured and learned from. Learning and being reflective on what you are trying to do is crucial in retaining the information. Your brain will better absorb the information if you consciously reflect on the process. This is a skill that all Tour players are good at as they are searching for information and reasoning behind why they hit a shot.

If, like most people, you find yourself getting frustrated and negatively critical of what you are doing, this will decrease your level of performance. Instead of becoming overly frustrated, accept the situation and challenge yourself to react in a way that will allow you to improve your game. Challenge yourself to accept the shot you have played and gain knowledge from that shot.

In short, be open-minded to mistakes, accept those mistakes and learn from them.

Here is a putting example to put this into practice:

When struggling with distance control in putting, a drill that is both challenging and requires high levels of concentration is a ladder drill. Within this drill there must be a goal that is both challenging and achievable. Depending on your skill level, start with fewer balls and gradually increase the amount of balls.

Start with 5 balls and begin at the 1st orange cone. The challenge is to get all 5 balls within the space between the single white cone and the line of 4 cones.

Each ball must be shorter in distance than the previous ball. Once all the balls lie between the single white cone and line of 4 white cones, you can then increase the amount of balls to make it more challenging.

For each putt you must change your location.

1st Putt = 1st orange cone

2nd Putt = 2nd orange cone

3rd Putt = 3rd orange cone

4th Putt = 1st orange cone

Etc.

If the ball goes longer than the previous ball, start all over again.

This is one of many ways that will help with your performance on the golf course. In the end, it takes patience and perseverance.

Dan Jackson, IJGA Golf Coach

 

Hydration Considerations for Young Golf Athletes

By Karen Harrison, BGGA Director of Health and Athletic Development

Adequate hydration is important for both good health and optimum sports performance. It is well-documented that with sporting activity lasting longer than 40-60 minutes, the consumption of water along with carbohydrates (your primary energy source) is performance enhancing. For a golfer, who potentially spends up to five hours playing a tournament round and countless hours practicing outdoors, ensuring adequate hydration is a MUST. Let’s examine the topic of proper hydration for the young golf athlete in more detail.

Firstly, how is dehydration likely to affect you? The general signs and symptoms of dehydration are easily recognized. In cases of mild dehydration, they may include one or more of the following: headache, fatigue/weakness, dizziness, dry skin/lips, nausea and/or muscle cramps. More severe dehydration can cause vomiting, confusion and agitation, with extreme cases leading to convulsions and unconsciousness.

Playing in the heat and humidity magnifies the importance of maintaining a hydrated state since these factors increase the risk of dehydration and even worse, a dangerous rise in core body temperature (usually referred to as heat exhaustion or heat stroke). In fact, these heat-related illnesses can occur even while exercising in a temperature environment (that’s only mid 60’s °F!). It should be said however, that most healthy children and adolescents can safely participate in activities in warm to hot conditions with suitable preparation and monitoring. Thus, most heat-related illnesses are preventable.

Being aware of the risk factors for dehydration or exertional heat-illnesses is the first step towards prevention. Some of the other risk factors affecting golfers may include insufficient consumption/access to fluids during play, poor fitness, inadequate pre-hydration, little sleep/recovery, illness, clothing (if it leads to excessive heat retention) or two rounds played in one day.

Clearly, the potential for poor fluid management to negatively influence performance is substantial, especially in the heat. Recent studies illustrate that even mild dehydration has been shown to reduce the muscular co-ordination required during sports skills (motor performance), affect mental clarity (focus, alertness, the ability to concentrate, decision making) and alter our perception of fatigue (it all seems harder!). In 2012, Smith and colleagues conducted research demonstrating that mild dehydration negatively affected both swing mechanics and decision-making, including the ability to judge distances, changes in slope and recognize differing shades of green. Ultimately, this led to a reduction in both the distance and accuracy of the golf shots measured.

How to know if you are dehydrated? One of the simplest ways is to assess the color of your urine. Generally, pale yellow (the color of lemonade) is a good indication that you are well-hydrated, and darker than the color of apple juice may indicate dehydration. Secondly, and more accurately, determine your sweat rate and therefore fluid loss during exercise under differing environmental conditions. In practice, measure your weight before and after a period of practice, noting how much fluid is consumed. The total amount of fluid lost and therefore weight lost per hour can be easily calculated, arriving at the amount of fluid lost per hour. Obviously, it will differ between individuals and according to the climatic conditions. Engaging in preparation such as this allows you to develop your own hydration strategy for both the practice setting and under tournament conditions which in turn can improve the quality of your practice and maximize performance. The pros do it!

In a conversation with former LPGA player, Sue Kim (Canada) related how she had a problem with drinking on the course; “I would never drink enough during a tournament. I simply forgot to drink”. Her solution? Kim modified her pre-shot routine. Arriving at the next shot, her routine began with a few sips of water. It helped her to maintain a hydrated state during a round and the action became automatic, ensuring she didn’t forget to drink.

General Advice:

  • As a guide, 13-16 year olds need 1.6-1.9L of total fluid each day (from food and fluids). Exercise will increase this amount.
  • Be prepared – bring adequate water with you to the course/practice range. There may not always be opportunities for purchasing water when you need it (e.g., ninth hole).
  • Be aware, thirst may not be a good indicator of how dehydrated you are.
  • Develop your own customized fluid replacement strategy and evaluate in training first before attempting it during a tournament.

Consuming fluids before exercise

  • Aim to start your practice/tournament in a well-hydrated state – check your urine color (ideally it should be pale yellow).
  • Consume 5-10ml/ kg BW water prior to exercise (i.e., 120 lbs. or 55kg = 275-550ml or 8-16 fluid oz.)
  • Consider including sodium in foods/fluids may be useful as it will help you to retain fluid during exercise.

During Exercise

  • Aim for 0.4-0.8 L of fluid per hour (130-250ml every 20 minutes).
  • Water is the number one choice for fluid replacement in most instances.
  • Consume small volumes of fluid frequently throughout the exercise/round/practice.
  • Avoid over-drinking. A condition called Hyponatremia (low blood sodium level) is the risk of consuming too much water, with symptoms shockingly similar to dehydration.
  • Recommendations are to consume enough fluid to minimize loss of body mass (1-2% loss)
  • There may be a case for sports drinks in certain circumstances when a source of carbohydrates and electrolytes (primarily sodium) are required (e.g., when access to food is limited).
  • Cold drinks may help to reduce core body temperature during exercise in the heat and increase the tendency to consume more fluid. Flavored waters may also increase consumption.
  • Avoid energy drinks at all costs!

Recovery

  • The goal is to drink to 150% of the fluid lost during exercise (based on weight). Yes, more than you lost; this accounts for the obligatory urinary losses.
  • Eat a meal post-practice/tournament – it will provide the carbohydrates, protein and electrolytes (Sodium and Potassium) necessary for recovery.

The optimal strategy for fluid intake for young golfers will vary based on numerous factors including climatic conditions, the opportunity to eat/drink, gastrointestinal comfort and an individual’s own physiology and biochemistry. Thus, consider the hydration recommendations provided and work on developing your own customized hydration strategy for both practice sessions and tournament rounds. It should be considered an essential element of a golf athlete’s preparation.

 

References:

American Academy of Pediatrics (2011). American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement – Climatic heat stress and exercising children and adolescents. Pediatrics, 128, e741. DOI:10.1542/peds.2011-1664

Coaching Association of Canada. Fluids for athletes. Retrieved from http://www.coach.ca/fluids-for-athletes-p154679

Desbrow, B., McCormack, J., Burke, L., Cox, G., Fallon, K., Hislop, M., ……. (2014). Sports Dieticians Australia Position Statement: Sports Nutrition for the Adolescent Athlete. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 24, 570-584.

Maughan, R. (2010). Fluid and carbohydrate intake during exercise. In L. Bourke and V. Deakin (Eds.), Clinical Sports Nutrition 4th Edition (pp. 330-347). Sydney, Australia: McGraw-Hill Education.

Smith, M.F., Newell, A. J. and Baker, M.R. (2012). Effect of acute mild dehydration on cognitive-motor performance in golf. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(11), 3075-3080.