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How Iceland’s soccer success can translate to golf

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During the recent UEFA European Championship in soccer, Iceland surprised everyone with its performance. The Strákarnir okkar (Our boys) tied Portugal and Hungary, and beat Austria in the group stage before sensationally beating England in the Round of 16. Iceland has a population of only 330,000; England has 54 million.

The Icelandic soccer league has the longest pre-season in the world (7 months) and the shortest football season in the world (May 20-September 30). The possibility that a nation could produce such high-quality football is interesting. To understand the odds that this small nation could come up with a team of this caliber, you can see how the Iceland coaches selected their team (see numbers below):

Total 332,529 inhabitants
Women -165,259
Men<18 years old -40,546
Men>35 years old -82,313
Overweight -22,136
Busy in the whale sightseeing industry -1,246
Busy in earthquake surveillance -314
Busy in volcano surveillance -164
Busy in sheepherders -1,934
Imprisoned bankers -1,464
Blind -194
Sick -7,564
Working in hospital, police and fire brigade -564
Icelandic Football Fans in the stadium -8,781
Team doctor and physiotherapist -2
Team massage therapist and water carrier -2
Busy managing the national football team -7
Rest 23

Even if these numbers not are statistical verified, it does show the distribution of potential candidates pretty well. So how does Iceland so successfully find these candidates? And how can golf clubs and nations be better at finding golf talents?

If we look at what happened for five years ago, Iceland hired the former manager of the Swedish National Team (Lars Lagerbäck). He managed the Swedish national team from 1998 until 2009, leading Sweden to five consecutive Euro and World Cup appearances. Lars was almost always criticized by the Swedish media for being too boring and impersonal in his appearance during the matches. It went so far that Lars was called “the most boring man in Sweden.” This meticulous approach and controlled demeanour, however, has made him a successful football coach in Iceland. Some of the major changes Lars first did was:

  • Full professionalism from the treatment room to the canteen, where a private chef was hired.
  • The team would only travel to the big matches by chartered flights.
  • Every game, the mindset was to win and stick to the game plan no matter what happened.

These changes were just the frosting of the cake. The main reason why Iceland could generate great results in soccer may reside in the number of qualified UEFA licensed coaches per active footballer. The UEFA license is similar to the PGA club professional education for golf instructors. According to the Football Association of Iceland, the number of UEFA educated coaches increased by 400 percent from 2007 to 2016, and 800 percent for the prestigious UEFA A-license. If we then calculate the ratio between the number of UEFA licensed coaches and the number of active Icelandic soccer players, the result would be 1 coach per 27 active player. In the year 2007, this ratio was 1/69. In Sweden the ratio was 1/231.  

If we would compare this to a typical golf club with 1,000 active members, the number of PGA instructors would be 40 per 1,000 members. In Sweden, most golf clubs have one PGA Club professional and an assistant (who hopefully has a PGA education). If we had the coach:member ratio of 1:27, the possibility of finding the future Open champion would be easier.

The Technical Director/Coach Education director Siggi Eyjolfsson said this in a coaching symposium in Sweden:

“To create good players, you need good coaches. To create good coaches, you need good coach education”

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Other things that must likely have helped Iceland in their success may be the “Viking War Chant,” even called the “Volcano.” Fun fact about the last match between Iceland and France — 99.8 percent of all TVs that were on in Iceland were tuned in to the game.

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Simon Selin PGA Club Professional in Sweden, extensive teaching experience coaching both amateur and professional-level golfers. Coached on the Ladies European Tour 2007-2010 TPI Certified Level 2 Golf Coach "Your swing should fit your body instead of your body to adapt to a type of a golf swing."

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Mad-Mex

    Jul 27, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    Just checked, its not April 1st.

  2. Q

    Jul 26, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    So not even close to being relative, it’s crazy cra cra.
    In football, you’re playing opponent teams. Regardless of how well you, yourself and your team prepare, how the heck are you going to know what your opponents will throw at you? This past Euro 2016 tournament was a farce. Too many teams in 3rd place got through, and one of them won the whole thing after playing dour football. Iceland’s success? Everybody’s making too much out of the story, because it feels good, but seriously, it’ll never happen again. It was a fluke happenstance. And they don’t play every week. That was an international team of players whose squad members could change every month they play qualifiers.

  3. DD

    Jul 26, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Objection. Relevance? Sustained.

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On Spec

On Spec: Rickie Fowler Rev33 irons and more signature golf clubs

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This week’s show is all about signature golf clubs, brought on by the release of the Cobra RF Proto Rev33 irons. From big-name players to historical releases there is a lot to cover from the world of modern equipment.

But before that host, Ryan Barath has something to get off his chest about pro-am golf and TV coverage.

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Opinion & Analysis

“Golfers pay way too much attention to iron lofts” – On Spec podcast

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On this week’s episode of the “On Spec” podcast on the GolfWRX radio network hosted by Ryan Barath, the main focus of the show was on the misconception around fitting irons based on handicap and the focus on iron lofts – AKA “loft jacking”

The goal of the episode was to explain how irons are designed to help optimize the target golfer using a number of factors including lofts, and why it’s more important to focus on final results rather than stock specs.

“The goal should be for your clubs to go the right distance with the right trajectory… golfers focus too much on loft and not dynamics”

You can listen to the full show below, the above quote starts at 22:42

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Opinion & Analysis

Keep your golf body moving at home

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Over the past few months, I’m willing to bet that a lack of golf, limited access to gyms and spending more time at home in sitting positions will likely be having a negative effect on our posture.

This means certain muscles (pecs, abs, hip flexors) getting tight and short, thereby hunching us over, rounding our shoulders forward and tightening our hips. This combination can wreak havoc on our golf swings, particularly our ability to rotate efficiently.

This simple sequence of exercises, performed daily, will help maintain posture and mobility in the key areas that facilitate rotation in our golf swings. You can find these exercises and much more on the Golf Fit Pro app for iOS.

 

1 – Mid Back Massage – 1 x 90 seconds

Using a foam roller or tightly rolled up towel, aim to apply firm pressure through the mid and upper back whilst gently pushing out the rib cage and arching back. Move up and down the roller or towel to target different areas of your spine.

 

2 – Upper Back Extension – 1 x 30 seconds

Using a bench, box or chair, push the chest down toward the floor whilst keeping your abs / core engaged. You should feel this in your mid and upper back.

 

3 – Straight Arm Chest Stretch – 1 x 30 seconds each side

 

Find a wall, post or doorway, place your hand flat with elbow pointing to the floor and arm straight. Gently turn away from your hand until your feel a stretch in your chest and front of your shoulder.

 

4 – Step Up and Turn – 1 x 5 reps each side 

 

In a push up position, move your foot to the outside of your hand (or as close as possible) then rotate your upper torso with arm straight, aiming to point your hand straight up to the ceiling.

 

5 – Back Swing and Follow Through – 1 x 10 reps

Using a piece of rubber tubing or as pictured, the GravityFit TPro, get into your golf set up position pushing out against the tubing. From there turn into your backswing and then into your follow through. Aim to do the majority of the rotation with your torso, keeping your hands in front of your body.

 

You can check out more of Nick’s articles and services here:

Articles
Golf Fit Pro App
Online Training

 

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