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5 questions to ask yourself after each round

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Do you finish your round, pop the clubs in the trunk, have a drink in the clubhouse and then head home after you play? If so, you’re missing out on something very important that can make you a better player.

According to the work we have done with some of the world’s leading athletes, including professional golfers at all levels, setting aside 15 minutes to reflect on each practice session and round can significantly help your performance in the long-term. Each one of my clients keeps a performance journal to track personal information and insights. At the end of a practice session or round, the athlete asks him/herself a series of questions, which are based on their individual profiles.

I can tell you that the athletes I work with who are diligent about keeping a performance journal and reflect on each practice session and round, consistently perform better than those who do not. Reflecting on performance helps boost self-efficacy, or the belief in your abilities in various situations. The reflection process helps build a sense of commitment to the player’s development and that player takes the lessons/experiences from each round and is always moving one step forward.

Luke’s Secret Weapon

luke donald

For a period in 2012, Luke Donald was the No. 1 player in the world — even with a surgically repaired wrist and ranked 177th in driving distance.

How did he do it?

With a lot of talent, a belief in himself and with the help of a ball point pen.

Donald keeps a simple black binder loaded with a daily calendar that you can pick up at the office supplies store. The pages are loaded with personal knowledge and self-belief about Donald’s game. Donald calls it his performance diary. I call it an essential tool that has helped him leverage his experience and maximize his abilities.

Each evening Donald uses the journal in a number of ways. He may jot down goals for the next day, he might keep track of technical swing feels after a big practice session, something that was working for him on the course, he might keep his statistics or just write down general thoughts and observations from the round that may help later.

Writing has power

pen and paper

In terms of learning, player development and communication, writing has the potential to offer a powerful difference for a golfer. I have seen, as researchers have attested, that writing can help a golfer in a number of ways including:

  • Enhance their self-awareness
  • Build self-confidence
  • Sharpen overall mental skills
  • Increase coping abilities

How you can get started

I highly recommend you begin, like Luke Donald did, with a small book that becomes your designated “performance journal.” The book can be a calendar, or you can input your own time periods, and pages would be designated for your practice sessions and rounds.

Like Donald, your performance journal will be a collection of information about you. It could be small goals that you’d like to achieve in the coming months, technical ideas that are helping you play well or thoughts about your approach to the game. Here are few general questions you can begin with to begin the reflection process:

  1. How did I practice or play today? Why do I think I practiced or played that way?
  2. What did I learn from the practice or round? Did I notice anything during the practice that could help me improve? Where do I need to put my focus in the next practice session?
  3. Did I let go of poor shots/mistakes quickly and get right back to business? Or, did the mistakes stay with me? If so, for how long?
  4. What would I rank my confidence in the practice or round, from 1-10? Why?
  5. Did I enjoy myself during the practice session or round? Why or why not?

Over time, you’ll notice patterns in your game that lead to success, and those that hinder your performance. Since we remember very little of what happens day-to-day, your journal becomes your memory, and may become your strongest tool for improvement going forward.

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John Haime is the President of New Edge Performance. He's a Human Performance Coach who prepares performers to be the their best by helping them tap into the elusive 10 percent of their abilities that will get them to the top. This is something that anyone with a goal craves, and John Haime knows how to get performers there. John closes the gap for performers in sports and business by taking them from where they currently are to where they want to go.  The best in the world trust John. They choose him because he doesn’t just talk about the world of high performance – he has lived it and lives in it everyday. He is a former Tournament Professional Golfer with professional wins. He has a best-selling book, “You are a Contender,” which is widely read by world-class athletes, coaches and business performers.  He has worked around the globe for some of the world’s leading companies. Athlete clients include performers who regularly rank in the Top-50 in their respective sports. John has the rare ability to work as seamlessly in the world of professional sports as he does in the world of corporate performance. His primary ambition writing for GolfWRX is to help you become the golfer you'd like to be. See www.johnhaime.com for more. Email: john@newedgeperformance.org

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Tyler

    Aug 10, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    This is quality information, thanks John! I never considered keeping a journal like this, but it makes perfect sense. Please keep these mental game instruction articles coming.

    • John Haime

      Aug 10, 2015 at 7:03 pm

      Thanks for the feedback Tyler. Reflecting on performance is very underrated. The right amount of analysis and introspection can really make a difference.

      More articles coming soon!

  2. Case

    Aug 10, 2015 at 12:44 am

    1. Why do I play this stupid game….
    2. Why are these a-holes always on the golf course who don’t fix divots, ballmarks or rake bunkers and take for ever to play any hole and end up with a 5.5 hour round
    3. Why do I play this stupid game….
    4. The game has lost any sense of decency, manners or etiquette ever since the Eldrick Woods era the game has gone to the toilet it’s all about big money now, it’s noting to do with the gentlemanly aspects of the game ever since that clown ruined it for the ones who really cared about the game I wish he would take all the clowns with him off the golf courses
    5. Why are these fat azzes even playing? Because they can ride around in carts and drink beer all day and be belligerent, it’s the only game in the world where you get to drink and drive and act like idiots for 5 to 6 hours in a public space without somebody saying something about law and getting on their case

  3. Scott

    Aug 9, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    Good article. Somewhere in the past I read a similar article titled “Measure Up When Playing Well” … a journal is very helpful especially when things go well and you get a confidence boost. I tend to experiment with my swing a bit too much and it re-focuses my practice and play to things that work well and help me play my best.

  4. Nathan

    Aug 9, 2015 at 1:14 am

    Yesterday.25 stableford points on the front 9, 14 on the back. After that effort I decided to do just this!

    • John Haime

      Aug 9, 2015 at 8:33 am

      thanks for the comment Nathan. If you record thoughts/ideas, and ask yourself key questions, you’ll find there are patterns in your performance – and will be very helpful for you. Great exercise for young golfers to get accustomed to doing.

  5. Cons

    Aug 8, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    Yo Luke Donald, its not a diary… its a journal. Just ask Doug Funnie.

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Instruction

Kyle Berkshire’s long drive wisdom wins!

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This one is a doozie! So many awesome elements to take away from Kyle Berkshire and implement them immediately in your golf swing for effortless power in the swing. From the set up with strong grip to the timing mechanism to start the action and give it a heavy flow, to the huge backswing and massive load in the ground in the transition to the deepest delivery towards the target there is in the sport! Watch and learn long ball wisdom right here.

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Stickney: Correctly auditing your ballflight without technology

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One of the biggest advances in golf instruction, in my opinion, was the adoption (by the masses) of the “new ball-flight laws.” While this information was first identified in “The Search for the Perfect Swing” as well as “The Golfing Machine” books it was not truly taught in the mainstream by teachers until the last decade. In fact, there are still millions of golfers who are still in the dark as it pertains to how curvature is created.

Thankfully, launch monitors have become more popular and now most people have some type of ability to hit balls using Trackman, etc., and this has helped inform the masses as to what is really happening during the impact interval. In today’s article, I want to show you how to audit your ball-flight if you DO NOT have access to a launch monitor. And if you’ll ask yourself these few simple questions you will have a much better idea as to what is happening and why your ball is doing what it’s doing!

“The New Ball-Flight Rules”

  • The ball begins mostly in the direction of the face angle direction at impact (Face Angle)
  • The ball will curve away from the path with a centered hit on the face (Path)
  • The amount of curvature at the apex is mostly determined by the difference in direction between where the face points at impact and the direction of the path at impact (Face to Path)
  • The impact point on the clubface can render the above obsolete or exaggerate it depending on where it’s impacted on the face (Impact Point)

Now that you know and understand the rules, here’s how you audit your ball’s flight without a launch monitor present…

Find your Impact Point Before Making Any Other Judgements

Before we begin delving deeply into your ball’s flight, let’s first stop for a second and figure out what our impact bias is currently. Yes, everyone has an impact bias—some are more toe-based while others are more heel-sided. It’s just the way it works and it’s mega-important. If you don’t have control of your impact point then all else is moot.
In order to do so, first hit a few balls on a flat lie and spray the face with Dr. Scholl’s spray, then take a look at what you see on the face, where are the marks? I’m not asking you for perfection here, because if you hit it slightly on the toe or slightly on the heel then you’re ok.

However, if your average clustering of shots is extremely biased on the toe or the heel then stop and figure out WHY you are hitting the ball off-center. Until you can contact the ball in the center of the face (within reason) then you will not be able to control your ball’s curvature due to gear effect.

If your impact point clustering is manageable, then ask yourself these three questions to truly understand your ball’s flight…

Number 1: Where did the ball begin?

I want you to draw a straight line from your ball through your target as you see in the left photo in your mind so you now have a “zero” reference. If you need to create this visual on the practice tee then you can put a rope or some string on the ground between the ball and the target creating a straight line from the ball through the rope and onward to the target itself.

Now back to the shot above, as you can see at impact, this player’s ball started slightly LEFT of his target-line—as shown by the arrow in the left frame which depicts the face angle at impact. In the right frame, you can easily see the ball beginning a touch left right from the beginning.

The numbers prove what we discussed earlier

  • The face direction at impact was -2.8 degrees left of the target
  • The ball’s launching direction is -1.7 degrees left of the target

As we know the ball begins mostly in the direction of the face and since the face was left of the target the ball also began slightly leftward as well.

So by paying attention to your ball’s starting direction as it pertains to the “zero line” (or where you’re trying to go) you can guess where the face is pointing at impact.

Number 2: Which direction did the ball curve?

Now, take a second and look at the right frame: We see that the ball curved leftward which means the path had to be more rightward than where the face was pointing at impact. If the ball begins where you want it to start and curves the way you want then you have the face and path in the correct place!

If we want to audit the numbers just to be sure, then let’s take a deeper look:

Trackman shows that the club path was 1.9 degrees right of the target and we just saw that the face was -2.8 degress left of the target on this shot. With centered impact anytime the face direction at impact is left of the path the ball will curve leftward. The negative spin-axis of this shot of -7.9 tells us that the ball is moving to the left as well.

If you want the ball to curve to the left then the path must be further right than that and vice-versa for a fade…pretty simple, right?

Number 3: How Much Did the Ball Curve at The Apex?

Question three is an important one because it helps us to understand what our face to path relationship is doing.

Curvature is created when the face and path point in different directions (with a centered hit) and the bigger the difference between the face and path direction the more the ball will curve…especially as you hit clubs with lower lofts.

Every player wants to see a certain amount of curvature. Some players want very little curve, thus their face to path numbers are very close together while others want more curve and the face to path numbers are larger. It does not matter what amount of curvature you like to “see” as the player…all flights will work. Think Moe Norman on one extreme to Bubba Watson on the other.

To close…

First, you must hit the ball in the center of the face to have a predictable curvature if you hit it all over the face then you invoke gear effect which can exaggerate or negate your face to path relationship.

Second, where did the ball begin? Most players whom draw the ball fear the miss that starts at their target and moves leftward (as depicted in the photo above) this is a FACE issue. The face is left of the TARGET at impact and thus the ball does not begin right enough to begin at the correct portion of the target.

If you hit the ball and it starts correctly but curves too much from right to left then your path is to blame.

Third, if your ball is curving the correct direction then your path is fine, but if it’s doing something other than what you want and you are starting the ball where you want then your path is either too far left or right depending on which way the ball is curving.

Fourth, if your ball curvature at the apex is moving too much and your ball is starting where you want then your path is too far left or right of your face angle at impact exaggerating your face to path ratio. The bigger the difference between these two the more the ball curves (with a centered hit) with all things being equal.

Samples to view

This is a path issue…the ball began correctly but curved too much rightward. Don’t swing so much leftward and the face-to-path will be reduced and the ball will curve less.

This is a great push draw…the ball began correctly and curved the correct amount back to the target

This is a face issue at impact…the ball did not begin far enough to the right before curving back leftward and the target was missed too far to the left

Take your time when auditing your ball’s flight, and I believe you’ll find your way!

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Clement: Should you hinge your wrists early or late in the backswing?

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Today’s video is a big one too! So many are wondering when to let the wrists hinge in the backswing; too early and you cut off too much arc and loose width; too late and you throw your center off-kilter and ruin your contact and direction! This video gets you dialed!

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