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Wide Focus

Building on last weeks instalment, Course Management: Part 1 - Know Your Game, where I highlighted the importance of understanding your Skills in order to develop solid Course Management, the next step is to frame your tactics via a Wide Setting. In my experience the most effective way to do this is to utilise a concept famously implemented by a young Tiger Woods: Personal Par


Personal Par

A huge mistake many Golfers make is setting the Intention/Goal of endeavouring to score ‘Par' on a given Hole. Par is what a PRO is expected to score. Thats like a Gym newbie attempting to lift the same weights as a Professional Powerlifter - CRAZY!

Instead implement the strategy of Personal Par. Here’s how: 

Save your scorecards for next three times you play the same Course from the same tees. Now establish a realistic Par for each hole based on the scores you achieved over those three rounds (think of it as a “Personal Best” score for the hole). Then, next time you play, adjust each Hole’s Par on the Scorecard (scribble it out and pencil the new number in), now use your ‘new’ Scorecard and try and better it (go set some new Personal Best’s). Alternatively use your Handicap and Stroke Index. Here’s an example:

(The Scorecard on the Left/Top is the Courses “Regular” Scorecard i.e. 0 Handicap. The Scorecard on the Right/Bottom is for an 18 Handicap Golfer. Spot the difference 😉?)

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This simple adjustment will help determine your tactics for a given Hole (think of a Par 4 you play regularly suddenly turning into a Par 5). It reduces the temptation to go for those high risk, “Wonder Shots” that often result in a “card wrecking” Score. Another benefit is that it helps you avoid placing too much attention on what Par for the hole/course is and/or what your competitors are doing..

IMPORTANT: Make sure you keep evaluating and adjusting your Personal Par (and associated Tactics) as you improve.

Stay tuned for Part 3: Weather

Thanks for reading!

Oliver C. Morton

www.TheLeadingEdgeGolfCompany.com


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BURNOUT BEWARE!

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

  • Hydration

  • Nutrition

  • Physical

  • Psychological


Sleep

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.

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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

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):

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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.


Nutrition

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.


Physical 

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.


Psychological 

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:.

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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.


Reflection

I hope you’ve found the above information useful, particularly when facing an intense stretch of Tournament Golf. Don’t be a BUSY FOOL!

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Thanks for reading!

Oliver C. Morton

The Leading Edge Golf Company

www.TheLeadingEdgeGolfCompany.com


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I’ve made plenty of mistakes; I’ve been fired, hoodwinked by a scoundrel and given plenty of poor advice (knowing what I know now). Due to these experiences, and dozens more, I’ve become fascinated with the concept of Failure. 

I spend a lot of my time Coaching Children and one thing that’s clear is the fear of Failure takes hold easily. Why put yourself into a position where you might look stupid? Why risk the possibility of letting people down? Isn’t it better to stay in your Comfort Zone?

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Overcoming the Fear of Failure is vital in a World where the status quo is constantly being challenged and transcended.

The sad thing is that Failure is a pre-requisite for Growth. Looking back on my mistakes, yes they were tough, but they were also precious Learning opportunities. Losing my Job made me more resourceful and creative. I now regard the experience as one of the defining moments of my Life.

My Parents are my big advantage. Unfortunately, my Mum passed away when I was 11, which meant I got an early dose of how cruel Life can be. However, it also meant that my relationship with my Dad deepened. The depth of our bond has meant I’ve been more receptive to his advice than I otherwise might have been, and something he’s always emphasised is the importance of a “can do” attitude (i.e. a Growth Mindset). “Failure is inevitable,” he would say. “It’s how you respond to failure that matters”.

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A study by the University of Bath has shown that the quest for Perfectionism has grown over the last 30 years. Young people are anxious about how many Friends they have on Facebook, whether they fit in, whether their lives are sufficiently wonderful. Is it any wonder they worry about admitting imperfection, personal or academic when they are surrounded by airbrushed images and blemish-free lives in the digital World they live in? Are they so worried about being Perfect that they’re missing the fact they’re Excellent?

Children as young as seven are also worrying about exams. They’re constantly being tested, judged and labelled. They’re told, subtly and sometimes insistently by Parents, that the rest of their lives are on the line when they walk into the exam room. Parents mean well, but this is clearly adding to the pressure and undermining the joy of Education.

What to do? It’s worth remembering that the World is constantly evolving. Technology is transforming our lives at an unprecedented rate. Think tanks estimate that young people today will do at least 15 different jobs through the course of their lives, many of which haven’t even been invented yet!

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In such a World, where the status quo is constantly being challenged and transcended, adaptability and variability are key. The most important thing of all however, will be resilience - the capacity to bounce back from setbacks. Because when we step into the unknown, mistakes are inevitable. Sound familiar Golfers?

This is why overcoming the fear of Failure is so important. Children are tested too much. Teachers face too much pressure from the Governors. Yes, exams are inevitable in any worthy education system, however, isn’t it healthier for young people to approach these as Opportunities rather than Threats? Isn’t it better for Children to learn skills that enable them to cope with the inevitable pressures of Life? These Skills are learnable and liberating, but are rarely taught.

Now, some might say that as a Coach I’m overstepping my remit. However, I believe my role as potentially one of the most influential figures in a young Persons Life, I need to empower them in any way I can to develop the aforementioned adaptability and variability. The fact that my vessel is Golf doesn’t make the need any less prevalent than if they were stationed in a classroom. The need is the same, I just happen to have a practical manifestation that embodies the message.

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This is why my Junior Coaching Sessions at Archerfield are a voyage of self-discovery. They are a time of experimentation and fun. A rich learning experience where errors are seen as crucial not detrimental. I want Children to experience the counter-cultural idea (when framed in the right way), that messing up can be productive. 

In Silicon Valley, the most successful tech companies “fail fast”. They release prototypes and software into the market early to discover their weaknesses, which accelerates their development and improvement. Michael Moritz, perhaps the most famed venture capitalist of the modern age, states: “The tech sector has grasped the power of Failure to drive success. We need that Mindset in the world beyond tech.”

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Children need to understand that it’s a good thing to look stupid from time to time. That asking questions in class is cool. That speaking to a large room of people is daunting, but hugely liberating, because what’s the worst that can happen? If you forget your lines, the World keeps turning. Albert Einstein flunked his exams and Michael Jordan missed over 9000 Shots in has career, it didn’t stop them living remarkable lives.

Above all, Children need to understand that anyone that’s achieved anything of note has gone through multiple stages of imperfection. Success, is a Journey!

Ryan Babineaux and John Krumboltz, two Psychologists have excellent advice for those who are prone to the curse of Perfectionism: 

  • “If I want to be a great Musician, I must first play a lot of bad music.” 

  • “If I want to become a great Tennis player, I must first lose lots of Tennis games.” 

  • “If I want to become a top Commercial Architect known for energy-efficient, minimalist designs, I must first design inefficient, clunky buildings.”

Failure’s not easy, it’s not comfortable, but creativity requires risk! As the World continues to become more dynamic and complex, the capacity to adapt is even more precious. I’d go as far to say that over the coming years adaptability, variability and resilience will be the most critical traits in the coming decades. Golfers, is any of this resonating?

Fail fast and Fail often. Thanks for reading!

Oliver C. Morton

The Leading Edge Golf Company

www.TheLeadingEdgeGolfCompany.com