COACHES CORNER

PERFORMING IN COMPETITION - By Jon Roy (Head Coach - DJGT) - May 2017

As the snow melts away and April’s showers bring May’s flowers, the golfing world embraces the change of seasons with open arms. And with the shift to the outdoors comes the excitement of competitive golf and playing in a variety of age appropriate tournaments. In our experience, players and parents are often surprised at how their tournament scores are often much higher from the typical scores which they shoot at their home golf club. There are many reasons for this phenomenon, and we thought it would be a good time to take a look at a few misconceptions that, if avoided, will help ensure your child performs more to their potential this coming season:

1. Over-competing means under-training

Playing in more events does not increase your odds of getting good results. In fact, one of the surest ways to SLOW the rate of skill development in young athletes is to expose them to too high a high frequency of competitions at a young age. Over-competing has the double effect of putting too much psychological load on a young developing players while also forcing this same player to neglect the technical and physical skill development (practice) that he/she so desperately needs at this age.

Heavy loads of competition have consistently proven to increase instances of burnout, injury, and fatigue. Too often we see these symptoms prior to an athlete deciding to leave a sport altogether, or at least to lose their love for the sport in some way.

2. Tapering

Once the major events of a player’s schedule are in place, the key is to now work backwards from these events and begin to script out the week(s) of training and rest that will come before these events. One of the key strategies is termed “tapering” – and in our context it refers to the management of the training period immediately before a major tournament.

In most instances, Tapering involves a decrease in volume and intensity in one’s training – with a goal of achieving a peak in performance after this period – hopefully during the competition. More scientifically, tapering produces a superior biological state characterized by ideal health, quick adaptability to training, and a very fast rate of recovery. Great performances are more likely to happen if we carefully manage our energy leading into key events.

As an example that is relevant to our landscape here in Ontario, we can imagine the following for the 3 or 4 days leading up to a major event:

Physical Training: Reduced to thorough warm-ups and cool downs.

Golf Practice: Elevate the intensity (quality repetitions) and decrease the volume, frequency, and duration of the sessions– spend the majority of your time simulating the psychology of competition.

Emotions: Work to unload all stress from your life inside and outside the athletic arena. Begin to upload positive imagery and thoughts for competition. Revisit your best performances.

Rest: Find extra sleep and recovery and ensure that you aren’t training if you are fatigued. Find time to be alone and relaxed - whether that be in sleep or meditation.

Nutrition/Hydration: Consume high quality foods and ensure you maximize water intake. Think of the quality of fuel you are putting into your engine.

3. Development of “Playing Skills”

There are “Playing Skills” which need to be developed by the junior golfer in order to express their technical skills in the competitive environment. As the competitive season approaches, players must make a shift away from technique and more toward focusing on the following skills.

• Being fully present through your senses while hitting a shot

• Decision & Commitment walking into shots

• Balance, Tension, Tempo in your practice time

• Emotional Resilience - managing emotions and levels of activation.

• Managing Self-Talk – monitoring the content of what you say to yourself

4. Post-round Reflection

Learning and development is the ideal focus of a junior golfer’s competitive experience, and as such post-round reflection is the best way for players to understand which skills need to be worked on leading up to next event. We would recommend players reflect on their rounds by answering the following questions, ideally under the guidance of a trained coach:

What was “Good” today?

What parts of your performance are you most proud of?

What could have been “Better”?

Which skills which need to be improved.

“How” can I improve on the skill which could have been better?

Determine specific strategies which be can implemented to improve weaker skills

As players and their parents prepare to embark on the competitive aspects of the game, we encourage you to embrace the concepts listed above. If you need help with them, take the time to find a qualified coach who can help you to better fulfill your potential in competition.

Jon Roy is the Co-Owner/Director of Coaching at Golf Performance Coaches. Jon is a coach and educator who specializes in player development for golf with the primary goal of making players better understand how to coach themselves!


YEARLY TRAINING PLANS – By Jon Roy (Head Coach – DJGT) - January 2017

It’s a time of year for goal setting, and the game of golf is not exempt from these new years’ resolutions.

In our coaching programs, we tackle the questions of goal setting and game improvement through the use of a YTP system (Yearly Training Plans) to keep us on a set plan.   The YTP system is actually really simple – we list a series of action items on a sheet of paper and every time we see our players we hold them accountable for the energy they put into these actions.

The key for us, though, is that we strive to create a balanced training plan which blends the various pillars of performance into a comprehensive plan of action.  While we acknowledge a culture in golf wherein players are obsessed with improving their swing, we like to remind everyone we work with that we are in fact trying to improve our golf, not our golf swing.  There is a big difference.  

And so as coaches we work hard to resist the temptation to reduce the game of golf to nothing more than a desire to make a nice swing.   At the end of the day we believe that what people really want is to play the game in a way which is confident and competent, and that making nice swings and strokes is but a portion of this…

GAME IMPROVEMENT

The 5 pillars of performance are:

  1. Technical
  2. Physical
  3. Psychological
  4. Tactical
  5. Spiritual

1) For many of us the major goal of the winter months is to make some technical changes and to get a “better swing”.  In these cases, this means looking at posture, club path, tension levels, footwork, etc…to name a few.   There is no doubt that technical precision plays a big role in golf, and these bullets are the easy ones to come up with for most players.  In fact, most golf instruction would limit itself to these types of bullets – essentially any golf pro can tell you what looks wrong and how they feel you might fix it…  But surely there must be more than just this.  Surely the game we all love so much offers more than mere technique?  We spend considerable attention on this pillar with all of our players, but for us it doesn’t stop here.  In fact, in our opinion the swing is really just the tip of the iceberg…

2) What is often overlooked is the connection between the technique we use and the limitations of our body.  We recommend that all serious players conduct some sort of physical screen to identify the causes of some of the solutions in their swing.  Consistent attention to developing your functional movement patterns can reap tremendous gains when it comes time to play the game.  Physical goals are often things like “lose weight”, “increase club head speed”, or “eat healthy”, but we usually add in things like “improve left hip mobility”.  Beyond the pay value of lower scores, these bullets also contribute to a pain free and healthy body to better practice in.  Even if all there is, is making our swing better, than this pillar is still critical.

3) The mind is only relevant on every shot we ever hit, so it’s no wonder nobody ever bothers to train this.  But seriously, is there a golfer out there that would not benefit from more attention to practicing how the mind functions through each shot.   Like any habits, those of the mind can be trained and developed.  These goals are often the hardest for players to pinpoint, but they can include things like “play with more freedom”, “be confident”, “focus through entire shots” etc…Once again, just because we can’t see “doubt” on the t.v. screen doesn’t mean that doubt isn’t the cause for a poor swing.

4) The Tactical pillar refers to self-management skills.  The very process of designing a YTP qualifies as a bullet here, and then things like “weekly reports to my coach”, “set up a practice plan”, “register for events”, “organize a club fitting” all qualify as bullets in this pillar.  Tactics is all about strategy and figuring out a game plan.  Making nice swings is dependent on setting up an effective schedule, making sure your equipment is optimized, etc…

5) The spirit pillar is all about identifying why you play the game of golf.  This requires a little soul searching usually, and bullets that we often see in this pillar are things like “play more with my dad”, “exude positivity” “look into peoples eyes”, etc…  This pillar is more of the glue that holds everything together.  If you don’t know why you’re playing the game (chasing rubber in a park) than your experience of the game can often be one of frustration and even anger.  It can be really healthy to remember the things you love about the game.

So if you haven’t built your YTP as of yet you should make this a priority this week.  It will help to guide your training and will help you to better understand the interconnectedness of all of your training activities.  With the help of a self-directed or coach assisted YTP you will ensure that your training time is more efficient and that you will find more time for training.  It’s amazing what we see when players train with purpose and direction.  And it’s equally astounding to watch players try to improve without it…

Jon Roy is the Co-Owner/Director of Coaching at Golf Performance Coaches. Jon is a coach and educator who specializes in player development for golf with the primary goal of making players better understand how to coach themselves!