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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: [email protected]

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

What is ground force in the golf swing?

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There is no doubt about it, the guys and gals on tour have found something in the ground—and that something is power and speed. I’m sure by now you have heard of “ground reaction forces”—and I’m not talking about how you “shift your weight” during the golf swing.

Ground force in the golf swing: Pressure and force are not equal

With respect to ground force in the golf swing, it’s important to understand the difference between pressure and force. Pressure is your perception of how your weight is being balanced by the structure, in this case, the human body. Your body has a center of mass which is located roughly one inch behind the belt buckle for men and about one inch lower in women. When we shift (translate and/or torque) the center of mass, we create a pressure shift as the body has to “rebalance” the mass or body. This pressure shift can help us understand some aspects of the golf swing, but when it comes to producing power, force and torque are where it’s at.

Pressure can only be expressed in relation to the mass or weight of the body. Therefore, if you weigh 150 pounds, you can only create 150 pounds of pressure at one time. However, when we direct that mass at a larger object than our mass, all of a sudden that larger mass directs an opposite and equal reactionary force. So now, when a human being “pushes” their legs against the ground and “feels” 150 pounds of pressure, they now get 150 pounds of force directed back towards them from the ground, creating a total of 300 pounds of force that allows them to jump off the ground in this scenario.

If ground reaction forces don’t have anything to do with the “weight shift,” then what do they affect? Everything!

Most people use the same basic ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies. However, almost everyone has chocolate chip cookies that taste slightly different. Why is that? That is because people are variable and use the ingredients in different amounts and orders. When we create a golf swing, whether we are aware of it or not, we are using the same basic ingredients as everyone else: lateral force, vertical torque, and vertical force. We use these same three forces every time we move in space, and how much and when we use each force changes the outcome quite a bit.

Welcome to the world of 3D!

Understanding how to adjust the sequencing and magnitude of these forces is critical when it comes to truly owning and understand your golf swing. The good news is that most of our adjustments come before the swing and have to do with how we set up to the ball. For example, if an athlete is having a hard time controlling low point due to having too much lateral force in the golf swing (fats and thins), then we narrow up the stance width to reduce the amount of lateral force that can be produced in the swing. If an athlete is late with their vertical force, then we can square up the lead foot to promote the lead leg straightening sooner and causing the vertical force to happen sooner.

While we all will need to use the ground differently to play our best golf, two things need to happen to use the ground effectively. The forces have to exist in the correct kinetic sequence (lateral, vertical torque, vertical force), and the peaks of those forces need to be created within the correct windows (sequencing).

  • Lateral force – Peak occurs between top-of-swing and lead arm at 45 degrees
  • Vertical torque – Peak occurs between lead arm being 45 degrees and the lead arm being parallel to the ground.
  • Vertical force – Peak occurs between lead arm being parallel to the ground the club shaft being parallel to the ground.

While it may seem obvious, it’s important to remember ground reaction forces are invisible and can only be measured using force plates. With that said, their tends to be apprehension about discussing how we use the ground as most people do not have access to 3D dual force plates. However, using the screening process designed by Mike Adams, Terry Rowles, and the BioSwing Dynamics team, we can determine what the primary forces used for power production are and can align the body in a way to where the athlete can access his/her full potential and deliver the club to the ball in the most effective and efficient way based off their predispositions and anatomy.

In addition to gaining speed, we can help athletes create a better motion for their anatomy. As golfers continue to swing faster, it is imperative that they do so in a manner that doesn’t break down their body and cause injury. If the body is moving how it is designed, and the forces acting on the joints of the body are in the correct sequence and magnitude, not only do we know they are getting the most out of their swing, but we know that it will hold up and not cause an unforeseen injury down the road.

I truly believe that force plates and ground reaction forces will be as common as launch monitors in the near future. Essentially, a launch monitor measures the effect and the force plates measure the cause, so I believe we need both for the full picture. The force plate technology is still very expensive, and there is an educational barrier for people seeking to start measuring ground reaction forces and understanding how to change forces, magnitudes, and sequences, but I’m expecting a paradigm shift soon.

 

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Why you are probably better at golf than you think (Part 2)

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Golf is very much a monkey-see-monkey-do sport. If you ever go to the local range, you are sure to see golfers trying to copy the moves of their favorite player. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it does not. While I understand the logic of trying to mimic the “secret move” of the most recent winner on tour, I always balk when the person trying to create their best impression fails to realize the physical differences between them and the best golfing athletes in the world.

Read part 1 here. 

In addition to most golfers not being at the same fitness levels as the best players in the world, they also do not have bodies that are identical to their favorite player. This single statement proves why there is not one golf swing; we all are different sizes and are going to swing the club differently due to these physical differences.

You have to understand your swing

The biggest reason I believe that golfers are better than they think is most golfers I meet do not understand what their swings should look like. Armed with video after video of their golf swing, I will always hear about the one thing that the golfer wishes they could change. However, that one thing is generally the “glue” or athleticism of the athlete on display and is also the thing that allows them to make decent contact with the ball.

We are just coming out of the “video age” of golf instruction, and while I think that recording your golf swing can be extremely helpful, I think that it is important to understand what you are looking for in your swing. As a young coach, I fell victim to trying to create “pretty swings”, but quickly learned that there is not a trophy for prettiest swing.

It comes down to form or function, and I choose function

The greatest gift I have ever received as an instructor was the recommendation to investigate Mike Adams and BioSwing Dynamics. Mike, E.A. Tischler, and Terry Rowles have done extensive research both with tour-level players as well as club golfers and have developed a way to test or screen each athlete to determine not only how their golf swing will look, but also how they will use the ground to create their maximum speed. This screen can be completed with a tape measure and takes about five minutes, and I have never seen results like I have since I began measuring.

For example, a golfer with a greater wingspan than height will have a golf swing that tracks more to the outside during the backswing and intersects the body more towards the trail shoulder plane during the backswing. A golfer with a shorter wingspan than height will have a swing that tracks more to the inside and intersects the body closer to the trail hip plane. Also, a golfer with a greater wingspan than height will have a more upright dynamic posture than a golfer with a shorter wingspan than height who will be more “bent over” at the address position.

Sport coats and golf swings

Have you ever bought a sport coat or suit for a special occasion? If so, pay attention to whether it is a short, regular, or long. If you buy a long, then it means that your arms are longer than your torso and you can now understand why you produce a “steeper” backswing. Also, if you stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and your middle-finger tips touching the top of your kneecaps, you will have perfect dynamic posture that matches your anatomy. If it appears that you are in a taller posture, then you have your second clue that your wingspan is greater than your height.

Translation to improvement

Using this and five other screens, we can help the athletes understand a complete blueprint of their golf swing based off their anatomy. It is due to the work of Mike, E.A., and Terry that we can now matchup the player to their swing and help them play their best. The reason that I believe that most golfers are better than they think is that most golfers have most of the correct puzzle pieces already. By screening each athlete, we can make the one or two adjustments to get the player back to trusting their swing and feeling in control. More importantly, the athlete can revisit their screen sheet when things misfire and focus on what they need to do, instead of what not to do.

We are all different and all have different swings. There is no one way to swing a golf club because there is no one kind of golfer. I encourage every golfer to make their swing because it is the only one that fits.

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How golf should be learned

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With the COVID-19 pandemic, golf is more popular than ever. Beginners being introduced to the game often find that golf is very hard, much harder than other sports they have played. To simplify the golf swing and make the game easier, it needs to start with a concept.

Golf should first be learned from a horizontal position. If the ball was placed four feet above the ground on a large tee, players would naturally turn in an efficient direction with the proper sequence to strike the ball on the tee.

Take for example, a person throwing a ball towards a target. With their eyes out in front of them? having an awareness to the target, their body would naturally turn in a direction to go forward and around towards the target. In golf, we are bent over from the hips, and we are playing from the side of the golf ball, so players tend to tilt their body or over-rotate, causing an inefficient backswing.

This is why the golf swing should be looked at as a throwing motion. The trail arm folds up as the body coils around. To throw a ball further, the motion doesn’t require more body turn or a tilt of the body.

To get the feeling of this horizontal hitting position or throwing motion, start by taking your golf posture. Make sure your trail elbow is bent and tucked with your trail shoulder below your lead shoulder.

From here, simply lift your arms in front of you while you maintain the bend from your hips. Look over your lead shoulder looking at the target. Get the clubhead traveling first and swing your arms around you. Note how your body coils. Return the club back to its original position.

After a few repetitions, simply lower your arms back to the ball position, swing your arms around you like you did from the horizontal position. Allow your shoulders, chest and hips to be slightly pulled around. This is now your “throwing position” in the golf swing. From here, you are ready to make a downswing with less movement needed to make a proper strike.

Note: Another great drill to get the feel for this motion is practicing Hitting driver off your knees.

Twitter: @KKelley_golf

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