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Are You a Head Case? How Neurofeedback Can Help

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Have you ever wondered what in the wide, wide, world of sports is going on in your head when you hit a golf ball? I surely have sometimes.

Most of my playing career, I was mentally strong and rarely had a thought that was distracted or destructive. My routine was really solid and consistent, and it allowed for me to play well under lots of pressure. Recently at the academy, we have added a new piece of technology called FocusBand. It allows me to see what is going on in your head as you hit a golf shot and make changes to the approach you are taking so that you are more successful on the golf course.

First, let me explain how it works.

FocusBand is a strap that goes around your head with three sensors that process the electrical signals in your brain and create an algorithm that is then audio-visually translated to show your mind’s activity. This is called neurofeedback, the best known method for training the brain. I can see what is going on via the avatar on my smartphone or tablet, and it is also integrated with my FlightScope launch monitor so I have numerous ways to use it at all times.

Research has shown that being able to switch to and execute in the right part of the brain gives you a distinct advantage. The right brain is calm and able to make more appropriate decisions in a shorter period of time. The left side of your brain, or the side that would glow red on the avatar, is the analytical, training side of your mind. It can process 40 instructions per second. It is very slow and detail oriented. This is the side you want to use when checking your math homework, doing your taxes, or listening to your spouse. The right side of your brain would glow green on the avatar and is the creative, play side of your mind. It processes 11 million instructions per second and is where you want to be when playing a golf shot.

Focusband_Red

So to simplify and relate this to a golf shot, the left side is where you analyze distance, wind, lie of the ball, what kind of shot, target, club selection, and any other meticulous details. You think in mentally audible words, lists, and sentences. Once you have completed that task, you need to flip to the right side and visualize the shot you want to hit and then feel the swing that produces that shot. There are no words or commands — just visuals and feels once you approach the ball and swing.

So I thought it would be cool to do some odd field testing on my students. The first player I drilled in FocusBand was a buddy of mine who was a really good football kicker in college. He plays to a low handicap and competes in several big tournaments a year. When he practices, his game is very sharp. In competition, he gets it going. Then, as he nears a good round, he goes off the rails a little and his score goes up as a result. He has testified to me that it is ALL mental. So the test I wanted to do with him and FocusBand was to first kick some footballs and see how his brain reacted when he did something he had done successfully with thousands of people watching and screaming at him. Then I wanted him to hit some golf shots. We were going to see what the difference was in his brain activity when we compared both actions.

IMG_0305

Now, it’s not normal to see someone kicking footballs at a golf academy. People were driving by yelling, “Laces out Dan,” and other assorted Ace Ventura lines as he bombed kicks down the range. On about his fifth kick, he hit one that hooked about 15 yards offline. What happened next was interesting and made him a believer. As he got ready to boot another one, he went from bright green to red for about 3 seconds just before he approached the ball. It was just enough for me to see it, but not long enough for me to stop him and ask what he was suddenly thinking.

The kick was beautiful, end over end and bombed. After it landed I asked him, “What did you think before you kicked it that was a change to how you kicked the ball from the previous one? You told yourself to change something.” He cocked his head and looked at me like I was reading his mind. “Yea, I did think something. I thought to point my toe more so the ball didn’t hook like the previous one! How did you know?”

That was when I told him I saw the screen flash red for a second. So using that a baseline for performance, we then hit some iron shots. As he warmed up, I made a change to his swing that was minor. His transition tempo was just a beat fast, so I told him to slow it and be more calm in the change of direction so that he could casually slot the club and not get a smidge steep and hit baby pulls. He got the move down and managed to pop into green for most of his shots. Only when I reintroduced the piece of instruction did he roll into red (left brain) thoughts. What that allowed me to do was to reinforce the need to control his mind and recognize that he had gone analytical. I didn’t want him to hit shots until he had flipped back into green with a strong feel of that move and not a detailed list of what I wanted him to do.

Focusband_Kicker

I was very impressed with his ability to calm his mind and refocus, just like he did as a kicker on Saturdays in stadiums. He played a couple of days after this session and reported to me that he peeled off five birdies in a row and birdied six of the last nine holes he played. The best part was that he was so into the new routine that he didn’t notice it was five in row!

The second test was with one of my juniors who had lots going on in the attic. The squirrels were running loose upstairs for this player! He is a great kid and can stand on the range in our sessions and be so solid and make beautiful swings. On the course, his brain goes a thousand miles a second and he cannot keep it between the foul poles on some holes. So on goes the FocusBand and he lights up bright red. I was not shocked. But now the challenge… could I get him to go green and get the creative side of his brain to engage?

This player is a really good athlete from an athletic family, so I had faith in his instincts if I could get him to recognize when he started to think in lists, sentences, and descriptive words. My instructions were simple and clear. He was to hit every shot in his routine and not approach the ball unless he could see the shot he wanted to hit and then feel the swing that produced that shot. He had to hold that until he hit it or I would call him off when I saw the screen go red.

What happened next was some cool, fun stuff that makes my job so deeply interesting. It took him about five tries to get to the ball without me stopping him for the screen going red. Each time I would ask him, “What sentence, word, or command did you think,” and he would always smirk and say something like “control the clubface at impact” or “don’t let my stance get too wide.” I would calmly remind him to stay with feels and visuals. Finally, he got to the ball staying green. He managed to swing and stay green, and he hit a towering 8-iron with a tiny draw. The smile on his face told the story. He knew he was starting to control his mind and how he was thinking as he played shots.

Focusband_Green

Now, that one shot did not mean he got it every time. There were about five other times I had to stop him, and each time he would smirk and tell me what thought crept into his mind. But now he had full awareness, whereas before he was just letting his brain run wild. He even got so good at it that twice he stopped himself at the same time I saw the screen go red. It was very cool to see the transformation take place and his heightened awareness of his mental state.

FocusBand and this kind of training is one of the coolest things we do at the academy, and we are just scratching the surface of this technology and how it can help the player. I have seen it dramatically help performance in golf. And if it helps there, it’s also something that people can transfer to life in general. Who wouldn’t want a more calm mind and to live a more peaceful daily life? Exiting technology, this is.

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If you are an avid Golf Channel viewer you are familiar with Rob Strano the Director of Instruction for the Strano Golf Academy at Kelly Plantation Golf Club in Destin, FL. He has appeared in popular segments on Morning Drive and School of Golf and is known in studio as the “Pop Culture” coach for his fun and entertaining Golf Channel segments using things like movie scenes*, song lyrics* and familiar catch phrases to teach players. His Golf Channel Academy series "Where in the World is Rob?" showed him giving great tips from such historic landmarks as the Eiffel Tower, on a Gondola in Venice, Tuscany Winery, the Roman Colissum and several other European locations. Rob played professionally for 15 years, competing on the PGA, Nike/Buy.com/Nationwide and NGA/Hooters Tours. Shortly after embarking on a teaching career, he became a Lead Instructor with the golf schools at Pine Needles Resort in Pinehurst, NC, opening the Strano Golf Academy in 2003. A native of St. Louis, MO, Rob is a four time honorable mention U.S. Kids Golf Top 50 Youth Golf Instructor and has enjoyed great success with junior golfers, as more than 40 of his students have gone on to compete on the collegiate level at such established programs as Florida State, Florida and Southern Mississippi. During the 2017 season Coach Strano had a player win the DII National Championship and the prestigious Nicklaus Award. He has also taught a Super Bowl and Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, a two-time NCAA men’s basketball national championship coach, and several PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players. His PGA Tour players have led such statistical categories as Driving Accuracy, Total Driving and 3-Putt Avoidance, just to name a few. In 2003 Rob developed a nationwide outreach program for Deaf children teaching them how to play golf in sign language. As the Director of the United States Deaf Golf Camps, Rob travels the country conducting instruction clinics for the Deaf at various PGA and LPGA Tour events. Rob is also a Level 2 certified AimPoint Express Level 2 green reading instructor and a member of the FlightScope Advisory Board, and is the developer of the Fuzion Dyn-A-line putting training aid. * Golf Channel segments have included: Caddyshack Top Gun Final Countdown Gangnam Style The Carlton Playing Quarters Pump You Up

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Gilles

    Nov 11, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    This is the most informative article on neuro-science ever on Golf WRX.
    Keep up the good work informing golfers on the latest brain training methods.

    Bobby Jones: “Competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course, the space between your ears.”

  2. Andrew Cooper

    Nov 10, 2017 at 5:58 am

    Great article Rob, thanks for sharing. Reminded me of Gallwey’s Inner Game theory. I suspect the very best players have always had a knack for (or learned to and understood the importance of) switching between the two states, almost like flicking a switch-Hogan, Nicklaus, Woods. Or they simply just approached and played the game with feel, athleticism and simple thoughts e.g. a Snead, Couples or Daly. Anyhow, a follow up article on ideas on how to keep the brain in the green would be interesting-that’s the tough bit…

  3. etc.

    Nov 9, 2017 at 1:37 am

    For a professorial explanation of the functions and abilities of the right and left brain hemisphere view this YouTube video in it’s entirety:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0RJa5bOqgY
    This lecture confirms the basis of the FocusBand and how it applies to the golf swing.

    • SK

      Nov 9, 2017 at 11:44 am

      So what Professor Jordan Peterson is telling us is that it’s useless to inject a “swing thought” during the swing, and it’s even doubtful thinking about a swing tip using the left side of your brain at address.
      The only way to improve your golfing brain function is to practice sufficiently so that the golf swing is established in the right hemisphere and the ability is transferred to the left hemisphere, and then transferred back to the right side!
      Or is it the other way around…. oy, my head/brain is hurting already!! Best I use the FocusBand and then follow the colored lights! 🙂
      —————-
      BTW, if you view Peterson’s other videos you will be pleasantly surprised by his viewpoint. He declares universities are robbing students by teaching them useless social justice propaganda, and that “God” is real (in the minds of people).

  4. Sherwin

    Nov 8, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    My instructor has a Focus Band and use it in our training. I’m familiar with the right brain (creative), left brain (analytical) theory. But at first when I use it, I thought it was made up junk science.

    But to my amazement, it worked and I hit my best shot when I switched on my right side.

    It is expensive for the everyday golfer to afford, however at $500.

  5. North Hinkle

    Nov 8, 2017 at 9:51 pm

    EEG has been relegated to the dustbin by neuroscience, and that band relies on the same principles. PET has demonstrated they are hokum. You have been hoodwinked.

    • SK

      Nov 9, 2017 at 11:50 am

      PET has determined that both sides of the brain are working together at all times and you can’t completely switch off one side. However the EEG FocusBand registers which side of the brain activity is predominant during physical activities while both sides are working furiously during the golf swing! 😉

  6. SK

    Nov 8, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    Here’s a good question. How do the right and left hemispheres of the brain react when a right handed person swings left handed? How does it compare to a right handed person swinging right?
    Also, do the brain hemispheres switch characteristics if you are left handed?
    Great article which I’m bookmarking. Thanx.

  7. COGolfer

    Nov 8, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    I’ve wanted to get this product for a long time. The only thing holding me back is the cost. It’d be nice to try it out through a practice or lesson before committing.

  8. Alan Bester

    Nov 8, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    WOW!!!! Mindblowing and also destroys all the old dog instruction books on golfing ‘my way’!

    You say the Focus Band is also integrated with your FlightScope launch monitor. What readouts do you acquire during the golfswing sequence? Do you see color changes going from the backswing into the downswing, and if you do can you describe the patterns?

    Since this is something very new you will undoubtedly be learning how to use it with time. Please keep us science-heads on GolfWRX informed of any new discoveries. Thanks.

    • SK

      Nov 8, 2017 at 6:00 pm

      LOL! Sciheads v.s. gearheads. And the winner is ……

      • OB

        Nov 9, 2017 at 4:02 pm

        What’s the difference between a ‘scihead’ and a ‘gearhead’?
        A scihead knows that golfing brains are in his head.
        A gearhead thinks the brains are in his clubhead.;)

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Instruction

Build A More Consistent Short Game Through Better Body Movement

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So far in my collection of articles on GolfWRX, I’ve talked at length about the importance of posture, stability and movement patterns in the full swing, particularly utilizing the GravityFit equipment for feedback and training load. Many coaches use the same equipment to teach better movement in the putting, chipping, and pitching actions.

To help give some more insight into exactly how they do this, I have recruited Matt Ballard to co-author this article. Matt is an Australian-based coach and short game specialist who has been working with Adam Scott for the past year.

Matt Ballard (right) with Adam Scott.

According to Matt, the short game issue that the club players he coaches struggle with is contact and delivering consistent loft with their wedges.

“Most people tend to get steep, the handle comes in first and not enough loft is delivered,” he says. “This means that the bounce of the wedge isn’t being used properly, which makes control of contact, trajectory, and distance very difficult. ”

As Matt explains in the video below, this problem tends to manifest itself in chips and pitches that are either fat or thin, fly to short or not far enough, and either check up too soon or go rolling on past the pin.

The really frustrating part is the inconsistency. Not knowing how the ball is going to react makes committing to a shot extremely difficult. This has the unnerving effect of turning a simple task into something difficult… and pars into bogeys or worse. For the past few months, Matt has been using the GravityFit TPro to teach correct set up posture and body movement for chipping and pitching.

“I use the TPro to first of all establish spine and shoulder position,” Matt says. “I like my students to have the feel of their shoulders and forearms being externally rotated (turned out). From this position, it’s much easier to control the clubface (i.e. not getting it too shut or too open). The second benefit of using the TPro is controlling the golf club radius during the swing, with the radius being the distance the club head is from the center of the body. Controlling the radius is paramount to becoming an excellent wedge player. The third reason I use it is to help teach that pure rotation from the thoracic spine (mid/upper back), minimizing the excessive right side bend (for a right handed player) that gets so many people into trouble.”

20170712-_MG_5867

Nick demonstrating how TPro drills can be performed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Essentially, Matt uses the GravityFit TPro to train a simple movement pattern that, once mastered, all but eliminate the typical problems normally associated with chipping and pitching.

“When (golfers) learn to turn using their thoracic spine and keep their arms in front of their body, it has a dramatic effect on how they deliver the club to the ball,” Matt says. “They are now able to maintain width or radius on either side of the ball, shallow out the club, and engage the bounce (sole) of the wedge to interact with the turf effectively, which is a key trait of all excellent wedge players. Doing this greatly increases their margin for error from a strike perspective and produces a far more consistent outcome in terms of loft, trajectory and distance control.”

Here is Matt’s 5-step process that you can follow with the TPro:

  1. Push handles out in front of your body, keeping slight bend in elbow.
  2. Stretch tall. Feel the green spikes in your middle/upper back and your shoulder blades on the paddles.
  3. Hinge forward into posture for pitching or chipping (the shorter the shot, narrower the stance.).
  4. Slowly turn chest into backswing, keep arms out in front of body, and maintain pressure on the spikes and paddles.
  5. Turn through to finish position using normal tempo, maintaining same pressure on the TPro and keeping arms in front of your body.

In summary, using the TPro and Matt’s drill can help you train a simple movement pattern that can give you far more control over the strike, trajectory and distance of your chips and pitches.

Click here to learn more about the TPro. To discover more pearls of wisdom from Matt, take a look at his website here and his social media activity here.

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Expand the Radius for Pure Ball-Striking

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There is a specific element of the swing that all good ball-strikers possess. It can be summed-up many different ways, lending to the often confusing terminology of golf instruction, but perhaps the best description is the following: good ball strikers, except for with the driver and putter, create a bottom or low-point of the clubhead swing/arc that is a few inches ahead of the ball.

In his book “The Impact Zone,” former PGA Tour player Bobby Clampett clearly made his feelings known on the matter by stating that for all types of player concerns, his best response was to “get the bottom of the swing 4 inches ahead of the ball.” Four inches may be the high end of the effective range, but still, I’m in agreement with Bobby on the paramount importance of this element of the swing.

Why is this so important?

Achieving a “forward” low point allows the golfer to deliver the clubhead to the ball with a slightly descending attack angle. Due to the design of the small golf ball and lofted face of golf clubs, “hitting down on the ball” slightly is a must for clean contact on the “sweet spot” of the clubface. Also, the bio-mechanics involved in creating a forward low-point will naturally return the club face squarely back to its starting alignment relative to the path/plane of the swing. The “dub,” as Bobby Jones rather bluntly referred to him (or her) who struggles to achieve both of these clubhead delivery conditions satisfactorily, is thus both a “flipper” and a “slicer.”

OK, so how do we do it?

Intentions, feels, and swing thoughts – different terms for the same thing — that can help the golfer achieve a forward low-point are limitless. But the following is one of the very best that I know of: expand the radius of the hand-path through impact. In terms of space, we’re talking “past the ball.” But I prefer this intention in relation to time or impact, which is more feel-based.

The hands swing around a point located near the golfer’s upper core area. At the start of the swing, both arms are essentially straight. The radius of the swing of the hands is widest and the distance from the hands to the center is greatest when both arms are straight. In the backswing, the left arm remains straight while the right arm bends up to a 90-degree angle, at which time the radius is at its most narrow, the hands closest to the center. At the strike point, good ball-strikers are expanding the radius of the swing of the hands, in turn widening the arc of the clubhead past impact. Without this bio-mechanical feature to the swing, achieving a swing bottom several inches ahead of the ball is virtually impossible, as the clubhead will release prematurely to its bottom.

How do you know if you’re doing it?

Besides creating proper clubhead delivery and an unmistakably “pure” strike, the trail arm should be observed with high-speed video to be straightening at impact. In a proper full swing, full-radius and the classic both-arms-straight position is reached just after impact.

A natural practice drill to acquire this skill

Ben Hogan, in his landmark instruction book, “Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf,” described the forward swing motion into impact like throwing a small-sized medicine ball. For a number of years now, I have been using a six-pound medicine ball with handles, for myself as well as my students, as an essential training aid to loosen-up and acquire the correct bio-mechanical movements of the swing. Whether you actually let go of the ball or not, the correct motion is the same:

  • Start with both arms straight.
  • Swing the medicine ball, which represents the hands in the golf swing, around a fixed point in the upper core, near the sternum.
  • At the end of the backswing, the lead arm should still be straight while the trail arm has bent to an approximately 90-degree angle.
  • The primary intention is for the forward swing and is to push the medicine ball outward from your center, reaching full-radius/both-arms-straight again ideally at a point in-line with your lead shoulder/foot. This movement will allow you to achieve a clubhead low point ahead of any golf ball positioned behind your lead shoulder.

A word of warning

It is possible to extend the radius of the hands too far past the ball. This is largely a problem limited to better players. The buzz term I hear for this nowadays is “handle-dragging.” An effective fix, as you might now imagine, is to intend to expand to full-radius sooner. But in over 20 years of teaching predominately the golfing population at large, I would say that for every one player that I see who expands the radius too far past the ball, I see many more times that who do not expand the radius sufficiently past impact.

It works like this; if you usually strike the ball first, but then take deep, gouging divots, and struggle to achieve a satisfactory height to your approach shots, then more than likely you actually are the rare “handle-dragger.” But if you are like the majority of recreational players who do not typically strike the ball first and then take a proper, shallow divot with your irons and feel that you hit them too high but without sufficient distance, then you are the opposite of a “handle-dragger,” a bit of a “flipper.”

If this description fits you, then please give the intention detailed here a try. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

In a proper golf swing, both arms become straight again, the hand-path reaching full-radius AFTER impact. As the golf swing moves much too fast to make this critical analysis in real time, high-speed video, seen here viewing down-the-line of flight, is a must.  

A hand-path training drill using a six-pound medicine ball with handles.

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7 Ways PGA Tour Players Enhance Performance on the Road

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If you poll the vast majority of PGA Tour players, you will find that they have many different routines and habits. From lucky underwear to only drinking a certain flavor drink on the front 9 vs the back 9, there are superstitions and rituals galore.

Amid all these rituals, there are seven consistent things that the best professional golfers do better than most. How many can you say you do?

1: Take A [Legal] Performance-Enhancing Drug

There is a powerful performance-enhancing drug the PGA Tour and all other sports organizations will never be able to ban. It’s called sleep, and you should take full advantage of it like the pros. 

When you are on the road, jet lag and travel fatigue are the real deal. While travel alone does not appear to be the sole determining factor in decreased athletic performance, studies show that athletes perceive themselves to be jet lagged for up to two days after long-distance travel.

Jet lag can be characterized by GI disturbance, impaired concentration, sleep disturbance, and intermittent fatigue. Good luck going low feeling like that. Travel fatigue, comparatively, is characterized by persistent fatigue, repeated illness, changes in mood and behavior, and loss of motivation. The biggest difference is that travel fatigue is cumulative while jet lag is episodic and circadian-based.

If you travel frequently, you are more at risk for travel fatigue. If you are just going on a one-off golf trip, you are more likely to have jet lag.  

How to be like the pros

Jet lag usually requires one day per time zone traveled to resynchronize your system, so be sure to arrive early enough to allow your body to adapt. There is also some cutting-edge research being done that looks at the use of melatonin and other methods to help athletes regulate their circadian rhythms, but proper scheduling is probably more appropriate for the general public.

In a recent study of collegiate basketball players, increasing the players’ sleep by approximately 2 hours each night created a 9 percent improvement in made free throws and 3-point shots. It also improved sprint times by almost a second.

Professional golfers generally try to have a similar bed time each night and a similar wake time each morning regardless of tee time. The more consistent your sleep is, the more consistent your scoring is likely to be.

2: Shop Till You Drop… Birdies That Is!

Yes, you read correctly. I’m telling you to go shopping. 

When my touring professionals are going out on the road, one of the first things we look at is figuring out where they should stay. While these players may go shopping for clothes or souvenirs, the type of shopping we plan for is a bit less exciting but critical for consistent success: grocery shopping.

As anyone who has traveled before knows, your diet can drastically change when you are on the road. Fast food, restaurants, desserts, alcohol, energy drinks, and prepackaged snacks are often staples of a traveler’s diet. While this may be fine on a vacation, professional golfers are on the road competing for their livelihoods. This type of eating can spell the end of a career and general poor health.

By determining what sort of food preparation capabilities they will have on the road (hotel room, apartment, house, etc.), professional golfers are able to plan the meals they’ll need and they places they’ll get them.

How to be like the pros

If you are staying at a hotel and only have a microwave, look to pick up ingredients for healthy sandwiches, unsalted nuts, fruits, and vegetables that take up little space, travel easily, and can fit easily into a mini-fridge. For dinners, try to stick to salads (limit the dressing) with lean protein sources (i.e. chicken, salmon, white fish, beans, legumes etc.). There are many healthy options, of course, these are just a few suggestions.

If you have a full kitchen, then treat your trip to the grocery store as a normal weekly trip (unless your normal pickups include chips, beer, and fried foods). 

The simplest advice I can give is to shop around the outer edges of the grocery store (produce, deli, butcher, eggs, etc). Stay away from the middle aisles (packaged foods, cookies etc) and you’ll be much better off.

3: Avoid the Free Breakfast Buffet Like the Plague

OK, this one is probably one of the hardest bad habits to break. Why? Easy and cheap. Plus, most amateurs aren’t thinking ahead about their food and don’t want to wake up any earlier than they have to.

Although you’ll be saving money, it’s highly unlikely that a few stale bagels and mini-muffins are going to get you past the sixth hole. 

How to be like the pros

Professionals arrive at the hotel knowing what is served and if it fits into their nutritional needs. Some free breakfasts are the real deal, but most aren’t. The good stuff usually isn’t offered or free.

Do your homework. Call ahead and ask what is included in the free breakfast. If it fits your requirements, then fantastic… you found a needle in a haystack. More than likely, however, you will need to supplement that continental breakfast with either the paid breakfast or a store run.

4: The Pre-Round Routine No One Talks About

No matter where in the world they are, professional golfers always adhere to the same routine when getting ready for a round. They arrive at the course the same amount of time before their tee time, work through the same warm-up routine, and even have the same pre-shot routine. I hope none of this is groundbreaking for you.

What amateurs often miss is the “pre” pre-round routine that no one talks about.

How to be like the pros

Amateurs often don’t factor into their wake up time how long they take to shower, eat, get dressed, drive to the course, workout, meditate, etc. For professional golfers, each of these facets is mapped out to the minute to assure they are truly as ready as possible for the round, thereby minimizing any undue stressors.

Let’s look at this example:

  • Your pre-round routine at the course is 60 minutes.
  • You have a 15-minute drive to the course.
  • You take 45 minutes to shower, eat, and get ready to go.

60 + 15 + 45 = 120 minutes

You need to wake up two hours before your tee time… minimum. Plan ahead like this and you’ll be shocked how much a routine on the road can help you perform.

5: Don’t Let Travel Get in the Way of Workouts

One of the hardest things about being on the road is your schedule; it’s often at the mercy of airlines and the other powers that be. We’ve all been there. So how do the pros make sure they get their workouts in when delayed flights or other obligations get in the way? Well, they don’t plan long workouts on travel days.

How to be like the pros

PGA Tour players generally plan their longer workouts on days that are more consistent. On travel days, they stick to shorter workouts that target core, mobility, or recovery. They know that getting a 20-30 minute session in is better than doing nothing at all.

The research is very clear that if you skip a workout, you will likely feel guilty and beat yourself up. This snowballs and makes it much less likely that you will work out tomorrow or the next day. Instead, if you modify and get the shorter workout in, you feel accomplished and your momentum is still churning for another good workout tomorrow.

6: Use Recovery Workouts to BOOST Energy When Tired

Yes, you should workout to have more energy. When you get in late from a flight or back to the hotel from a long day of working on the road, you rarely think of working out, right?

It’s feet up, TV on, drink in hand…

One of the coolest things about fitness for golf is that there is more than one way to do it. Recovery workouts not only increase your energy, but they can improve your adaption to different timezones.

How to be like the pros

The next time you arrive at a hotel room after a long day, try to do it differently. Instead of beelining for the nearest bar, restaurant, or room-service menu, make your way to the gym or courtyard if it’s nice outside.

The next 20 minutes is going to be life changing if you can make it a habit. Hop on a bike, a treadmill, an elliptical, or just go for a walk. What you need to do is move for 10-20 minutes. You are not trying to burn as many calories as you can or get so out of breath you can’t talk in full sentences. Quite the contrary.

Pros on the road will use a light cardio workout like this to help their system flush out the stuff that is making them feel “blah.” Getting the blood flowing helps them reset their system and feel fresher. Again, “workout” is used lightly here. It is literally just a plan to move around for 10-20 minutes. You can also use this technique at the end of a very vigorous workout to help you recover.

7: The Winners Actually Do Their Homework

This final thing that pros do when they travel is a bit out of the health and fitness realm, but it is 100 percent performance-based. I am sure you have gone on a golf trip as I have, and when you show up at the course you may ask the pro how the course is playing, how fast the greens are running, etc. You know, you try to show that you’re not just any duff off the street. That’s likely the extent of your research on the course… except maybe looking at a scorecard.

Curious why rounds like that don’t usually go well?

How to be like the pros

Before you even arrive at the course, there are some simple things you can do to ensure a better performance. Try to answer these questions before the start of the trip:

  1. Does the course have a range? If not, how might your pre-round routine be affected?
  2. What kind of grass does the course have?
  3. Do you know how to play the course? What differences or similarities will there be compared to the course you normally play?
  4. Have you looked at the yardage book? Can you start mapping out what clubs you will be hitting off the tees?  
  5. If you have a chance to ride the course or play a practice round, do you know what adjustments you’ll need to make based on the predicted forecast?
  6. Do you have access to green reading or course layout books? If so, where do big numbers come into play?
  7. What sort of food and beverage services are available? Do you need to pack food/drinks for the round?
  8. Is there a locker room where you can warm up or stretch, or do you need to do that before you arrive?

The list goes on and on, but I think you get the gist. The key to success is preparation and doing your homework.

Don’t let the title be misleading. Not all pros are great at all these things, and it can be the reason they have short-lived careers or spend many grueling years on the developmental tours. I have touring professionals that I work with who struggle to do all seven of these things on a consistent basis. But, when they are successful with these 7, their results on the course are quite convincing.

If you can implement just a couple of these items, you will be pleasantly surprised at the changes you start to see on the course and the way you feel physically.

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