Are you overlooking one of the most important parts of any training program? Are you RECOVERING appropriately in order to help you establish your Optimal Performance State? If not you’re risking the biggest of all Performance inhibitors; BURNOUT.
It’s that time of Year where a lot of Golf is played. More rounds per week, 36/72 Hole Events and multiple weeks on the road where Golfers attempt to acquire the appropriate scores and points to achieve their Goals. It’s the perfect storm of ambition, routine and fatigue. The lure of success leading to long hours of practice, preparation and play. Where more ‘work’ becomes custom and practice. Not only are balls hit prior to a round they’re also hit AFTER in an attempt to “fix” a problem, to iron out the creases of poor Performance.
When Performance is sub-optimal the temptation is to keep grinding. To keep working hard by hitting thousands of Balls on the Driving Range or spending hours on the Chipping/Putting Green. However this behaviour might well be anaesthetising you from the real issue: you’re not in your optimal Performance State (Physical, Mental & Emotional Condition), which in turn is causing your Technique/Skill to breakdown.This makes it even more important for Players to be self aware of their State.
A great example of being totally in tune with this is from Episode 9 of The Earn Your Edge Podcast featuring Beau Hossler (Hit the Image to Listen). I recommend you listen to the entire episode but if you tune in between 21.40s - 27.09s you’ll hear how Beau was playing his 14th Week Straight on the Web.com Tour (just think about that for a second!!!) as he needed to give himself the best chance of acquiring the required amount of ranking points to get his PGA Tour Card, and he wasn’t Playing well. However, he knew that if he prepared well and ensured he was in the best possible Performance State, that would give him the best possible chance of grinding out a decent result vs trying to ‘fix’ his Ball Control with lengthy Practice Sessions. He recognised he needed to prioritise his Recovery/Rest! Spoiler alert: he finished 19th that Week and got his Card!
I can’t tell you if need to Work or Rest, that’s down to you being in tune with yourself (aka self-aware) Physically, Mentally and Emotionally, however I will provide a tool (keep reading ;) that will help you determine the best course of action to get your Performance where you want it to be.
So how do you Optimise Recovery?
Well, I’ve broken it down into 5 distinct elements:
Sleep plays a major role in athletic performance and competitive results. The quality and amount of sleep Athletes get is often the key to Winning. REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep in particular provides energy to both the brain and body (Learn More about the specific stages of Sleep Here: https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/sleep-101). If sleep is cut short, the body doesn’t have time to regenerate, repair & consolidate memory and release hormones.
NFL Legend Tom Brady famously advocates 10 hours of sleep, regularly “hitting the hay” around 9p.m (Learn More about his Sleep habits here:https://www.nectarsleep.com/posts/learn-sleep-habits-tom-brady-sleep-like-champ/) and Lance Armstrong famously dared people to get 6 to 8 hours of sleep (amongst other things 🤭) to improve mood, performance, and concentration.
A study in the journal of sleep confirms the role of sleep in performance with results that show declines in split-second decision making following poor sleep. Results also showed increased accuracy in well-rested subjects.
Exercise (like lifting weights or playing Golf) depletes energy, fluids, and breaks down muscle. Hydration and the right fuel are only part of training and recovery (I’ll cover those in a bit). What athlete’s do immediately after competition also determines how quickly their bodies rebuild muscle and replenish nutrients (again, I’ll cover this later). This helps maintain endurance, speed, and accuracy.
Some research suggests that sleep deprivation increases levels of stress hormone; cortisol. Sleep deprivation has also been seen to decrease production of glycogen and carbohydrates that are stored for energy use during physical activity. In short, less sleep increases the possibility of fatigue, low energy, and poor focus at game time. It may also slow recovery post-game.
Whether you’re at the top of your game or in the game for the fun of it, getting the proper amount of sleep is necessary to face the world with your best foot forward. Sleep will not only help you play better, it’ll get you on the road to good fitness, good eating, and good health.
Here’s a great info-graph from Precision Nutrition (you should definitely follow them on Instagram, they’re awesome. Here’s their Profile: https://instagram.com/precisionnutrition?igshid=ulzmuk20f3fd) that illustrates the optimal amount of sleep for different ages:
Hydration during Performance is a hot topic right now in the Literature World - lots of poor studies from days gone by. So it looks like we might not need to drink that much during Performance after all. However, proper Hydration has a big influence on Performance as just a 1% drop in your hydration levels will have a negative impact (see Table and Image below, percentages might change as a result of future research):
Replacing the fluid lost during a round of Golf is extremely important, especially if you’re playing several days in a row . Hence why it’s an essential part of your Recovery program. A simple way to monitor your fluid levels is to measure your weight prior and post round. Every Kilogram of weight you lose during the round is 1 litre of water you need to replace. Best practice is to replace a little more than what you have lost during the round to allow for urination, so as a general rule you should replace 150% of what you have lost. This means that a Golfer that weighs 70kg prior to a round and 68kg post round needs to drink 3 litres of water post round to ensure they’re fully hydrated for tomorrow’s round.
A solid rule of thumb to help golfers stay hydrated and focused is to consume 100-150 millilitres (small cup) of water every 15-20 minutes/2 holes during a round/practice. Golfers should also avoid fizzy or sugary drinks, as these contain ingredients that can dehydrate the body.
As Golf isn’t as physically taxing as other Sports and the fact it’s played at a pace that allows for snacking this isn't as big an issue as in other Sports (see my Previous Blog “Fuel Your Round” for advice on what to eat during your Round). That being said it’s important you eat a balanced diet in general and fuel your body with nutritious meals prior, post and between rounds.
Lean protein is required to help repair any damage to the muscles and minimise muscular fatigue, vegetables provide micronutrients + carbohydrates to replenish your energy stores as well as being easy to digest and good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) help with general energy and hormone balance levels. Pitta Bread & Hummus or a Baked Potato with Baked Beans and Cheese are solid post Round Options.
It’s important to ensure you plan your meals as it is easy to get caught in the fast food trap, especially if you are traveling for an event. Make sure you have access to cooking facilities and appropriate sources of food to avoid unhealthy choices i.e. foods that provide minimal micronutrient content and contain high amounts of bad fats i.e Hydrogenated and Saturated Fat.
Truth be told this isn’t my area of expertise, so for further information on this topic I’d recommend heading to the myTPI.com website and find your local TPI Certified Trainer to discuss this in more depth (click on the image below).
However, Physical recovery is something we all can relate to as we’ve all finished a round and felt stiff, sore and tired. The easiest way to deal with this is with massage/manual therapy - a qualified masseuse can be very beneficial in aiding recovery between rounds. Unfortunately, not all of us have one on standby, however there’s a variety of self-massage techniques i.e. foam rollers or spiky balls (Here’s a quick guide from Runners World: https://www.runnersworld.com/health-injuries/a20812623/how-to-use-a-foam-roller-0).It’s important to stat that the mechanisms in massage and foam rolling are not what they were once thought. Although it often helps athletes “feel better”, so most believe it has a predominately Psychological benefit.
Massage can also be used in conjunction with hydrotherapies such as hot and cold immersions to ensure a well-rounded physical recovery strategy is maintained. By alternating between a hot bath/shower for 1-2 minutes and a cold burst for 30 seconds you will assist the recovery process.
The final area is Psychological Recovery. This is an area that’s often completed subconsciously by Players, often very poorly. Most Golfers will finish a round, head to the clubhouse and relive their experiences by reciting all the poor shots they played. The concept of reflection is a good thing but the focus on the bad shots isn’t. Its essential Golfers debrief with a positivity bias as it “completes” the round from a psychological standpoint, and as John Dewey Says:.
This can be done very effectively by using a wonderfully simple reflection tool created by Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott of VISION54 called “Good, Better How”. You can complete this in a Journal, Notebook or simply download this Template:
Make sure to include all aspects of your Performance:
Ball Control (Greens In Regulation, Fairways Hit, Hole out Conversion etc)
Performance State (Commitment and Focus Levels, Post Shot Reactions etc)
These provide you with “both sides of the coin” i.e. Objective Data on your Ball Control/Skills (Off the Tee, Approach Shots, Short Game & Putting) and Subjective Analysis of the State you were in that facilitated the your Ball Control Outcomes (the Story behind your Skill if you will).
This reflection helps you formulate a Positive Action Plan, and if you’re not sure of the best course of action, it’s a great tool to start a conversation with your Coach. The Players in my Connected Coaching Programme swear by it!
Another Psychological Tool that’s gathering popularity in the Golf World is Mindfulness, its most famous advocate being Rory McIlroy. Here’s what he had to say about it prior to this years Masters (Hit the image Below to watch):
In short, Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment (aka being “Present”).
Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future. Definitely something to try if you find yourself physically and/or mentally fatigued.
I hope you’ve found the above information useful, particularly when facing an intense stretch of Tournament Golf. Don’t be a BUSY FOOL!
Thanks for reading!
Oliver C. Morton
The Leading Edge Golf Company