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Part Two of Guest Blog with Daniel Davey

Part two of our latest guest blog with Daniel Davey of Leinster Rugby and Dublin GAA.

RC :
Strength and conditioning has became more common in modern times with golfers. What do you advise for post gym replenishment?

DD :
A simple rule of thumb is that when you train intensely you must recover optimally to get the most from each training session. Recovery is something that is regularly discussed by athletes, coaches and sports science support but cannot be underestimated as it is during the recovery phase that athletes adapt, grow and become stronger. This is particularly important for young athletes aiming to gain lean mass during a muscle growth phase (hypertrophy). Always have a recovery meal after your gym session that includes some carbohydrate and a good source of protein. . A yogurt with a banana is a beneficial first phase recovery meal option and a simple baked potato with beans and a chicken breast is a good option for second phase recovery.

RC:
If you had to choose 3 essential supplements that every golfer should take, providing they have optimised their nutrition through their diet, what would you recommend and why?

DD:
The 3 supplements I would advise are:

1. Vitamin D during the winter months because there is significant evidence to suggest that people in the northern hemisphere are at risk of vitamin D deficiency during the winter months. You can read all about the importance of vitamin D here.
2. Electrolyte tablets to add to your water during a round for superior hydration and thus performance
3. Although certainly not essential, whey protein is a supplement that is worth considering for golfers who are training in the gym and playing regularly. Protein is an important nutrient for recovery that is often neglected by athletes and maybe not considered by golfers because of the association of whey protein and team based or strength focused sports. It is also convenient and practical for making a snack when travelling as outlined above.

RC:
Like most serious sportspersons, Golfers are always looking for the competitive edge whether its new clubs or a change of technique. Is there anything nutrition wise that you see out there that is currently trending that you are a big fan of and would recommend?

DD:
Tart cherry juice is something that may be beneficial for golfers who want to improve the rate of the recovery after intense rounds or training. Not only is there evidence to suggest cherry juice can support the rate of recovery after exercise by helping to reduce inflammation but there is also suggested benefits for improvements in the onset of sleep and sleep quality. This could be particularly useful for golfers who are moving between time zones and struggle with getting adequate sleep in new environments. Remember, if you are going to take this that it is concentrated tart cherry juice rather than your typical cherry fruit juice!

RC:
Caffeine is well known to have some performance benefits for other sports but many top golfers such as Tiger Woods and Padraig Harrington try to avoid any caffeine during tournament weeks citing feelings of jumpiness over short game shots and putting. But others have no such issues. It’s an interesting topic. What is your views on this?

DD:
There is a significant body of evidence to show that caffeine can improve high intensity exercise performance through reducing the perception of fatigue and enhancing focus. However, even though caffeine can improve performance in high intensity exercise many athletes do not use it due to being over-stimulated to the point that they feel “jittery”. For golfers, like most athletes, the use of caffeine must be approached with caution as the benefits in perceived energy can easily be undermined by poor motor control or over stimulation. This can very easily lead to mistakes with your long game or particularly the short game where tempo is critical. It is only through use in practice rounds and warm-up tournaments that golfers can ascertain if caffeine is something that is beneficial for them. Some golfers may find it beneficial to have 1-2 coffees in the lead up to a round for better focus and to reduce the feelings of fatigue but practicing this strategy in non-competitive rounds cannot be over emphasised. It is worth adding that even if using caffeine in practice rounds is perceived to be beneficial, this may not work well in competition due to higher rates of stress hormones and adrenaline. For composed, experienced golfers or for those with a high caffeine tolerance, caffeine intake may offer a performance edge. However, when thinking of using any supplement, it is important to consider if the fundamentals in nutrition (which have the greatest potential impact) have being thoroughly considered and implemented.

RC:
Daniel, Many thanks for taking the time in partaking in the guest blog series. Some great information in there that is sure to help a lot of people.

DD.
My pleasure!

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Q + A : Episode 4 of the Guest Blog with Daniel Davey Leinster and Dublin Nutritionist

The latest blog post in our guest series with experts in their respective field is Daniel Davey.
Daniel is co-founder of FoodFlicker and a performance nutritionist currently working in professional rugby with Leinster Rugby and elite gaelic football with the Dublin football team.

Robbie Cannon

Daniel, First of all many thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions for followers of the blog series! The majority of questions i get from clients regarding nutrition for golf is what to eat on the golf course. I always tell them that the most important part of nutrition for golf is the meal they have leading up to before they go warm up and play. Could you give us some information on whats the best nutrition to have before you go play and how soon should you have it before you are on the first tee. Most golfers will have at least a half hour practice session prior to tee off. Also i get a lot of nutrition queries regarding a players tee off time(early/late etc.) Should they have a big breakfast before they go play? Should they have a big lunch before the afternoon round?

Daniel Davey

When it comes to the benefits of nutrition what really matters is your long-term daily habits and how you are meeting your specific health and performance nutrition needs over time. Closer to your practice round or competition, nutrition is something that must be considered in phases. There is the preparation phase, the performance phase and the recovery phase after you play the round. The preparation phase will mainly focus on the 24-36 hour period before the round where there is a moderate increase in energy intake and a close monitoring of hydration by following the weight, thirst, urine colour (WTU index). The performance phase will include the foods / fluids you eat on course during competition to maintain energy levels and hydration, which, we will deal with later.

Golf is different to most other sports due to the length of a round and the high demands for intense focus and concentration, in short intervals over a 4-5 hour period. In the preparation phase it is hugely important to eat a meal that is slow digesting, avoids any stomach distress and maintains energy levels over a 2-3 hour time frame. Unlike high intensity team sports where athletes must eat a large meal at least 3-4 hours in advance of kick-off, golfers can have a large meal within 2 hours of tee time without suffering stomach upset in the onset of beginning the round.

The foods that people eat are individual to them, some people may like a warm meal such as cooked porridge with banana and milk, eggs and brown toast, or sweet potato and chicken while others may prefer a quinoa chicken salad or brown bread sandwiches with soup. Each of those meals will provide the body with a slow release of energy while avoiding any stomach upset and dips in energy throughout the performance. If you have an early morning round it’s important to have something pre-prepared for breakfast the night before. Overnight oats, a breakfast smoothie or a Bircher muesli are good options as they are slow digesting and have a decent source of protein.

RC

What foods should the golfer be eating on the course and how often. Depending on how long they are out there a golfer can burn well over a thousand calories over a four to five hour round.

DD

The guidelines for on course nutrition are to eat something every 3-4 holes that is easy to digest, low in fibre and palatable. Suitable foods include dried fruit, nuts, seeds, homemade granola bars, fruit, homemade protein energy bars. Smaller amounts of practical non-sticky dry foods will work best as they are easy to store and won’t go soggy in your golf bag. I generally advise the golfers I work with to make their own homemade snacks, firstly because they are in control of what they are eating and also they are generally higher quality and more nutritious than off-shelf products. The routine of making homemade snacks is also good mental preparation for athletes as it helps them get into a focused mind-set for competition.

RC

Even though its March and still pretty much winter here in Ireland most golfers won’t drink enough water on the course. Also some of our readers and professionals will be playing in Super Hot conditions over the coming months. What are your hydration recommendations for golfers who are on the golf course for 4-5 hours in cool and hot conditions.

DD

Hydration is one of the areas I believe could offer the greatest benefits to golfer’s performance. There are a number of approaches a golfer can take to their hydration depending on conditions and if it’s a practice round or tournament. Water is usually fine for a practice round if consumed in sufficient amounts and if the conditions are temperate. However, if it’s warm or if you are playing a 2-4 day competition then an electrolyte drink is advisable. Using hydration (electrolyte) tablets with water is one practical way of creating your own electrolyte drink. Fluid intake in the heat must be significantly increased compared to mild or cold conditions. Recommendations will vary depending on body size and sweat rates but aim to consume 200 -300 mL of an electrolyte solution every 15 minutes in the heat. If you are sweating profusely then fluid intake may need to be even higher. If you would like to read more on the importance of hydration and hydration strategies for performance click

RC

What are your best nutritional tips for helping the golfer recover after a round. Also on another note here in Ireland our amateur championships and scratch cups have 36 holes in one day so players are required to fuel up between rounds and sometimes very quickly! Any tips to help a player fuel up fast while stay alert and avoid an energy slump at the start of their second round.

DD

The type of food and the timing of your recovery meal are the main considerations when it comes to rapid recovery after an intense round of golf. The primary focus is rehydration and replenishing depleted energy levels with a suitable slow digesting and balanced carbohydrate, protein and fat meal. In the first phase of recovery something like a fruit smoothie is a good option while a nutritious meal like salmon, potato and roast vegetables is good for the second phase of recovery. That will help the body and mind to heal and regenerate after a long intense round.

RC

A lot of golfers will have some early tee times this coming season and unless you are on the PGA Tour a hot breakfast at away events can be hard to get! What would you recommend for golfers to purchase the night before so they can have some breakfast at 5.30am before their 7am tee time?

DD

Oats, nuts, seeds, yogurt and whey protein are all very easy to carry when travelling and can make up the basis of a nutritious breakfast or snack. All you need to buy on the road is fresh fruit and maybe some fresh milk which will make up a breakfast smoothie or an overnight protein oats. Hydration before an early round is also a vital area for consideration as you are more likely to begin the round dehydrated if you haven’t consumed sufficient fluids with breakfast

Keep an eye out for Part Two which will be posted in a few days.

You can find Daniel and find more articles and recipes ideas here:
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Blog Post from University of Louisville Golf Coach Aaron O Callaghan

The latest blog post features Aaron O Callaghan. Aaron is the assistant golf coach for the University of Louisville Golf Team.

This is a must read article for parents of anyone considering a scholarship to the USA.

 

RC

Hi Aaron , Many thanks for taking the time to be a part of the Cannon Performance blog and I’m really looking forward to hearing your views and thoughts on the American college golf system. Its certainly been a big success for a lot of Irish golfers over the last twenty years.

AC

Robbie, The American college system has been a tremendous success for young golfers in many different ways.

It is an incredible opportunity to develop talent at the highest level while continuing ones education. There are countless Irish golfers that have played college golf and have had very positive experiences. In many cases Irish golfers end up remaining in the States. America has been very good to me. I have enjoyed living in different cities and I have fortunate to be surround with amazing people.

 

RC First of all Aaron, Tell us about you and your story. We played amateur golf together about 15 years ago for a few seasons and you had a lot of success back then. Tell us about your journey and how you took up golf. Im sure people would love to hear why you went down the college coach route.

 

AC I began playing pitch and putt at the age of 8. I loved going to the pitch and putt club with my father Brendan. This laid the foundations of my love affair with golf. My eldest brother Wayne turned professional when I was just getting started. The conversations in my house were centered around sport, and mostly about golf. I decided at a very young age that I wanted to be a professional golfer. At the age of 12, I began to play golf. It was a thrill for me to go to the course with the aim to get better every day. By nature I am a very competitive person. Golf enabled me to constantly compete against myself. I was able to see improvement quickly in my game as my scores lowered. At the age of 15, I was very fortunate to be selected by the GUI for the Irish Boys panels. This placed me in an environment of excellent coaches and players on a regular basis. As my game progressed, I was able to play to a high level on a world stage. Playing in North America, Asia and across Europe gave me experience and a taste of a golf professional’s lifestyle. I wanted to play college golf in the states from aged 16. Having played for the Great Britain and Ireland Boys team, I was recruited by a number of college programs. I followed in the footsteps of a number of Irish players and committed to play at Southeastern Louisiana University.

I knew that the best players in amateur golf played in the states and I wanted to test my ability against them. I had a tremendous experience at Southeastern. My college career was up and down but during these years I continued to learn more about myself. As I matured, I began to focus more on my academics and began to plan ahead. College golf opened my eyes to the level of competition. The talent is so deep that after 4 years of competing, the reality was that I was not in a position to turn professional and play full time. Without any status and little financial backing, it was not in my best interest to play mini tours, nor did it appeal to me. At the time, my game was too inconsistent to be able to be successful at the level that I wanted.

The opportunity to come on as an Assistant Golf Professional at Baton Rouge Country Club in Louisiana meant that I was able to stay in the states and enter the PGA program. I immediately started my training and loved the instructional aspect of my job. I spent 5 years at the club where I was able to play in professional events and instruct golf. As I developed my knowledge as an instructor, the more I enjoyed teaching. Once the opportunity came to join the University of Louisville coaching staff, I couldn’t resist. It meant that I would have the opportunity to coach aspiring young athletes in the pursuit of their dream of playing golf professionally. For me, working with highly motivated people is a thrill. It drives me and I get a lot of satisfaction from helping others. I want to be the best I can be. The position of a college coach forces me to continue to learn and adapt with new players.

 

 

RC   Having spent some time with you recently at the University of Louisville it was very evident to see the passion you have for coaching and for the game of golf. You clearly miss playing golf. When did you realise you were not going to make a living out of playing tournament golf? I feel some people out there struggle to realise how good you have to be to make a living out of tournament golf and the talent that Tour players possess. Was it a tough decision to go down the coaching route and did you always have such a passion for coaching?

 

 

AC There are many golfers that I grew up playing against that are struggling to make a living on the mini tours. I admire players that are persistent in chasing the dream of playing at the highest level. This lifestyle is not for me. I certainly miss competitive golf. I maintain my PGA membership here in the states and I hope to compete in some sectional events in 2017.

 

I get so much enjoyment from coaching and seeing improvement in others. Once I began instructing and coaching, it struck me how much I loved doing it! College sports in America are as good as it gets. I knew from my experience that I would be surrounded by highly motivated people that want to win. I jumped at the opportunity to be able to develop aspiring professionals golfers and be competitive at the highest level of amateur golf. My passion for coaching has really developed the more experience that I get. It is an incredible feeling to see development in players. I have tasted a little bit of success in coaching, reaching some new benchmarks University of Louisville in my first recruiting class. I am now in my 3rd year at Louisville and I love it more than ever. I get excited to see the progress in our players both on and off the course.

 

 

RC I work with a lot of talented golfers in their late teens here in Ireland and the UK and there is always talk of the next step for them . There is a lot of interest from them to go to university in the states. I feel that some of the kids and parents don’t know enough about the system . Could you talk to us about the system. How it works. What grades you need. Scholarship opportunities etc.

 

 

AC The next step from high level of amateur golf to the college golf system is a great option. I believe that it is the best measuring stick for young players. The future tour players are in the college system now. If you can’t beat them in four years of college I feel that it is unlikely at the next level. There are many programs that prepare the players so well in college that they are ready once they leave to compete against the best.

 

It is always best for aspiring golfers to take the initiative in the process of looking at Universities in the States. All programs are unique. I find that many Europeans believe that the weather is the number one factor in where they would like to play. Although this can be an important factor, prioritizing the weather is very naive. The most important factor is the Coach of the program. He will make or break your experience. There are so many aspects to consider ahead of the weather – academic standards, tournament schedule, teammates, facilities, and golf courses available. Playing time is often overlooked by many players. In my opinion, playing tournaments is the fastest way to improve. As there are only 5 players that are in the travel squad, it is important to go to a program that is fitted to your ability level. I haven’t come across a player that is happy when they are outside of the starting line up. Scholarship is also very important for internationals since University can be expensive! All teams have 4.5 scholarships to divide up to their team. It is unrealistic to expect a full scholarship in most cases. That being said, it is vital that a budget is made out and planned over 4 years. Scholarship is typically improved with great performance.

Current and past team members can be a great source of information. I encourage golfers to reach out to team members to inquire about the program and what is like.

This link helps to explain some of the important recruiting rules- https://www.ajga.org/parents/collegegolf.asp

 

 

Golfers should create a resume. This should include their golfing achievements and videos with a personal statement and aspects of their game. Be proactive with calls to coaches and emailing for information. Take visits to the programs that are of interest. Players can request an unofficial (out of pocket) visit at any age. The University pays for an official visit. This consists of a maximum of 48 hours on campus. The SAT exam has to be taken, and the visit must take place after September 1st of the prospect’s final year of high school. Coaches are allowed to contact players after September 1st of their second to last year of secondary school.

 

There are many conferences in the States. The ACC, SEC, Big 10, Big 12 and Pac 12 are part of the Power 5 Conferences. These conferences have the most resources available. The current PGA tour and European tour is filled with players from these conferences.

Academic standards differ in each University. The better high school grades, the more attractive a golfer is to a coach. A prospect must take the SAT exam early. This is vital to become eligible to play in the states. The exam can be taken multiple times. Create a profile at the NCAA eligibility center https://web3.ncaa.org/ecwr3/

 

 

 

RC Having been to the university of louisville last month I got to witness first hand what an amazing program with fantastic facilites you have over there. Tell us about what is happening over there with you guys and what both mens and womens teams get to experience when attending the university of louisville.

 

Louisville is one of the fastest growing athletic programs in the US. We have joined the ACC conference in 2014, and as a result all 23 sports have seen rapid improvements. The University has spent over 400 million on facilities in the last number of years and it will not stop there!

Being a Cardinal in Louisville is very special. The city has over a million people without a professional sports team, so the University of Louisville athletes are revered.

The athletes here are fortunate to have an extensive support system in place. For our golf team alone, we have two golf coaches, a director of operations, academic advisor, strength and conditioning coach, a nutritionist, and sports psychologist.

 

We purchased a golf course in 2014 and we have continued to make improvements to our facilities. The University of Louisville Golf Club is considered one of the premier practice facilities in the country. We are also fortunate to have a large number of different courses to play. Valhalla is the best course we play and is a true test for an aspiring professional. Coaches at Louisville have high expectations of their athletes, and players in the programs are pushed on a daily basis to improve. The programs at Louisville require high work ethic in every area of the being a student athlete.

If there is anyone that may have questions regarding our program-

My email address is aarono@gocards.com

My mobile number is (001)502 744 5352

 

AC

 

RC Aaron, Its been a pleasure having you on the blog and thanks for all the great information about the college system

 

AC . Its been a pleasure. Thanks for having me.

 

 

Take advantage of the warm up

Gym workouts, like everything else in life, materialise  along  a spacious spectrum of efficiency. On one side of the spectrum, we have ample time to conduct the perfect session where everything we planned to achieve in our session is achieved. The athlete is engaged and is working hard.  Coach and athlete are happy. Progress has been made. 

 On the other side of the spectrum, we have sessions that are rushed. The athlete is not engaged. Learning and adaptation is minimised. Coach and athlete leave the session thinking that their time could have been better spent doing something else more useful. 

The Average Joe, especially in the world of golf fitness, has this perception that strength and conditioning is all about lifting weights, when in fact, there are so many more components to strength and conditioning than lifting iron. 

Like every other science, sports science is developing and research is showing us potential new and fresh ways of training our athletes better.  Coaches with growth mindsets continue to educate themselves with evolving practices and technologies to provide better coaching for their athletes. 

The question we often face as coaches is: “How do we maximise the limited time with our athletes and what components of fitness should we concentrate on?”

Of course a lot of this comes down to the training age of the athlete, periodisation and stage of the season. 

No matter what period of the season, a good training session should consist of the following:

  1. Good breathing habits 
  2. Mobility training
  3. Stability training 
  4. Cardiovascular training   
  5. Activation 

These components can all be trained in a warm up and can get your training session off to a dynamic and fun start. It is certainly much more productive than 10 minutes on the bike. 

Warm up can be defined as follows:

“Prepare for physical exertion or a performance by exercising or practicing gently beforehand”

There is an excellent opportunity to use a systematic warm up to make our training sessions more efficient. 

At Cannon Performance, we see the warm up as a great opportunity to work on several components of fitness that we want our athletes to benefit from. 

To perform this warm up, you are going to need some space to run. Outside works super, providing it is not cold or wet. An indoor track works great also. The great thing about this warm up is it that it can be used with several athletes at the same time if this training session is in a group environment. 

Start 

Foam Rolling (3 mins)

Diaphragmatic breathing (3 mins)

1 x 50 metre stride (40%)

1 x 10 bodyweight squats 

1 x 50 metre stride (40%)

1 x 10 lateral lunges (both legs)

1 x 50 metre stride (40%)

1 x 8 forward lunge (both legs)

1 x 50 metre stride (40%)

1 x 10 dynamic leg raise hamstring mobilty  (both legs)

1 x 10 50 metre stride (40%)

1 x 8 CARS (controlled articular rotations of hip)  both directions both legs

1 x 50 metre stride (40%)

1 x 8 reverse lunge (both legs)

[water break 30 secs]

1 x 50 metre stride (50%)

1 x 10 stiff leg jumps 

1 x 50 metre strides (50%)

1 x 8 CARS (controlled articular rotations of shoulder) both directions both arms

1 x 50 metre strides (50%)

1 x 10 wide stance thoracic reach (alternate)

1 x 50 metre stride (50%)

1 x 8 thoracic circles against wall

3 x 50 metre strides (60 %) 50 metre walk between strides

Whether before a workout or a round of golf, if you want to maximize your performance you have to prepare your body to move well. Hopefully this helps provide some background on how to move with a purpose before your workout and how it benefit you.

Whats going on?

Robbie was at the Honda Classic last week with Shane. IMG_1690 IMG_1726 IMG_1707 IMG_1711

Episode 2 of the guest series . Frans Bosch

It is a great pleasure to have Mr Frans Bosch next up on the blog. Some fascinating ideas that will interest a lot of coaches out there across all sports.

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Frans Bosch (1954) earned a degree in PE in 1977.

Since 1980 he worked in athletics, coaching elite sprinters and Olympic high jumpers and for some years as the national coach for jumping events.

Since 2005 Bosch teaches at the Fontys University for applied sciences in sports, mainly in the field of anatomy, biomechanics, strength training and motor learning.

Bosch has given numerous presentations on training related topics all over the world and frequently works internationally as a consultant in sport and as conference speaker on training related subjects. Clients in recent years are the English Institute of Sports, Wales National Team Rugby the British & Irish Lions, Japan National Team Rugby, England cricket, West ham United football and others.

Together with Ronald Klomp he wrote ‘ Running, biomechanics and exercise physiology applied in practice”, published in the Netherlands in 2001 and translated in English in 2005.

‘Strength training and coordination, an integrated approach’ is published in the Netherlands in 2012 and translated in English in 2015.

 

RC

Hi Frans and many thanks for taking the time to talk to us about your work and your new book. When we first made contact you confessed you have no expertise on the golf swing but from following your work closely over the last few years in my opinion you have some great ideas and opinions on movement and how the body works.

One of the great topics of conversation amongst golf coaches would be best practice on how to make technical swing changes. As an athletics coach you have had to change many athletes technical patterns. As a golfer I know changing swing patterns can be a tough thing to do. Ive had many swing training sessions where I have had the technique exactly how both coach and I wanted both visually and sensory. Sadly over the following days carryover would be lost. Even the greatest players in the world struggle with this. Jason Day has been battling dropping the club laterally for 15 years reporting it to stick for a month but drop again. I feel you will be able to give an interesting insight in to how the body works when it comes to making some changes in a technical movement such as a golf swing.

 

FB

Thank you Robbie and many thanks for asking me to contribute to this topic. Indeed I do not know anything significant about the golf swing and I will discuss from a more general perspective.

Movement patterns that we have learned tend to be persistent. The control system basically is conservative. It looks at a number of features of a movement patterns for making decisions on maintaining the old or switching to a new pattern and the features of the new pattern really need to be better then those of the old one before it will make the transition.

One of the features is the result of the pattern. A new pattern clearly needs to be more successful than the old one, to persuade the system to choose the new pattern. When you change the golf swing the difference between the result of the old and new pattern for the first days or even weeks will be marginal and therefor the system is not interested in changing and will go back to the old and best known pattern.

A second one is the stability of the pattern. The control system will hold on to a pattern if it is stable. With constructing a new swing, one also needs to convince the system that the new swing is more stable (requires less corrections, has lower energy costs etc.). Until that is proven the old one will prevail.

So what can one do to switch from old to new? Convincing the system that it is more successful is too difficult, since success will come in the far future. A better option is to address stability, not just by convincing the system that the new pattern is stable, but also by changing the environment (support, golf club, using elastic bands etc.) in such a way that the old swing becomes unstable.

Dividing the practice time between learning the stability of a new swing and associating the old swing with instability may be a more fruitful strategy than one focussing on the new technique. First change the environment in such a way that the old technique becomes unstable and then after a while switch to a new pattern. Disrupting the old pattern is a step that usually is forgotten in a leaning process and it may be the most important step in learning better skills

 

RC

Very interesting. i like it.

In my experience performance in golf requires both consciouss control and unconscious control.

Conscious control would be before making the golf swing. Getting into the right set up position for the particular shot at hand where we have plenty of time for this. Unconscious control would be the start of the swing and swing itself. Could you talk to us a little about that and how the dynamic systems theory would relate to a golf swing .

 

FB

You talk about conscious control of the right set up position. Drawing parallels to other hitting patterns, like batting in baseball, both “conscious control” and “right set up” may be concepts that are wrong.

First, there probably is no right set up position. It will differ each time. Even more so a variable set up position may be better than a precise set up position. Even more so the best players (at least that is the case in baseball batting) tend to show more variation in their set up position than their less skilful players.

In skilful players variability is found at the beginning of a movement pattern especially when it is done with low intensity.

Therefore in skill acquisition it is a good strategy to learn to swing from a big variety of starting/set up positions. It will teach better use of correcting mechanisms in the body and so improve the golf swing.

Conscious control, in the sense that one pays attention to the correct body position probably is counterproductive. It is one of the best researched aspects of motor control and motor learning. Pay attention to the environment, not to the body

RC

 

Ben Hogan was renowned for practice and renowned for his several different set up positions. He was on to something back then! Another common issue we see as golfers going through some changes is taking it from the range to the course. The golfer has no problem putting the new swing changes into play on the practice tee during training but when they take it to the golf course or into competition it reverts back to type. What kind of protocols would you advise on how to train specifically for transfer of new swing changes to the golf course and competition itself ?

 

FB

You are referring to the phenomenon of “reinvestment”

We have two control systems, one being the conscious incidental control, the other being the unconscious automated control. These two do not work well together. When you have no stress (practice) and you are skilful you use automated control. When there is stress (competition) incidental control suppresses automated control and takes over. But incidental control almost always is inferior to automated control, hence the “choking” effect.

Why is this phenomenon occurring? One reason is personality. Some are affected by this all the time and others seem to never have the problem. A second and important reason is the way a skill has been learned. If in the first stage learning there is a lot of conscious processing of information and conscious control of movement one not just learns the pattern, but also learns to use the incidental control system for that pattern. This then will pop up in stressful situations. If conscious control is minimized in early stages of learning reinvestment is much less likely, because the system never learned how to use conscious control for that pattern.

 

RC

The best players i have worked with over the years have had a few common qualities. One of them is incredible coordination. The ability to perform almost every exercise with ease.  So in my opinion coordination is a huge factor in being a successful golfer.  As a result i would use a lot of coordination training with my players. Research has shown us that strength and coordination are closely related. Would you recommend strength training for golfers?

FB

It depends on what strength training. It can be benificial as well as counterproductive. Especially a sport like golf is sensitive to positive, neutral or negative transfer. Strength training can improve technique by improving the physical qualities or can be detrimental for instance when doing hypertrophy training. Therefor the notion “strength training is coordination training under increased resistance” is especially important for golf.

 

RC

I completely agree. Thats why its vital to be training the correct way with the correct exercises.

Over the years the most talented golfers that ive worked with in the gym have played a lot of other sports when they were younger. I would be of the opinion that if an athlete has poor fundamental movement skills in their early teens they will struggle to develop world class sports specific skills. What would be your take on that view?

FB

Absolutely. Playing a lot of sports teaches children to explore and improve building blocks of movement. Those building blocks require extensive exploration and need to be tested in all kind of environments. Only after being exposed to these environmental influences the bandwidth of stability of each building block is charted properly.

A good example is use of abdominals during the swing. Abdominal length is very critical for force production and therefor there is a rather precise defined bandwidth in which abdominals can work optimally. This means that shoulder-pelvis separation has to stay within limits. These limits need to be learned not trough detailed coaching but trough broad exploration in all kinds of movement patterns. Only with well defined building blocks one can build a complex pattern like swing effectively.

RC

Lets talk a little about low intensity exercises and their ability to transfer to a high intensity movement such as a golf swing. Ive had much more success using high intensity gym based movements to help transfer movements needed by the golfer. In my opinion low intensity exercises don’t work as well.  What is your opinion on this?

FB

In the book the phenomenon of “phase transitions” is explained. Phase transitions mean that low intensity movement can be controlled fundamentally different from high intensity movement. Low intensity; precise signals from the brain to selected muscles. High intensity: crude signals to groups of muscles that can correct each others errors.

In gym based exercises it is important to try and stay within the phase of high intensity control. Obviously this is also important for practicing a swing. Variation, unstable environment, learning a full swing before addressing a short play chip etc. may provide tools in learning to develop the right control strategy.

RC

Some golfers have several swing thoughts while they swing. Some have none. Ive played my best with one or zero thoughts. Talk to us a little on how our thought process affects our bodies abiity to hit the golf ball where we want it to go.

FB

This again refers to mechanisms of reinvestment. Conscious control overruling automated control. For those that are interested in reinvestment the work of Rich Masters may be interesting. Combined with Gabrielle Wulf’s work on internal focus it shows that the conscious mind is not a good vehicle for motor learning / control. Implicit learning is better.

RC

Frans its been fantastic to talk to you and I’ve got tons out of it. I know the readers of the blog will get a lot out of it.

Many thanks

 

FB

Thank you Robbie

 

Frans super book can be bought here

For Europe
For the US
Dr Liam Hennessy is next up on the blog and its one not to miss.
Thanks for reading.

Whats going on?

Robbie was in Dubai last week working with the members and professionals of Emirates GC.

IMG_1588

Irish Open

Episode 1 of the Guest Series. Dr Bhrett McCabe – Willpower

Todays new blog post is the first of a new series where I collaborate with friends and colleagues in the world of sports performance. I have had some fascinating discussions over the years with people I admire and respect and I really liked the idea of co writing articles so we could get some of these insights out into the public domain. Im very excited about the project and looking forward to learning so much from it. Ive no doubt you all will too.

 

Our first co writer today is Dr Bhrett McCabe . Dr. McCabe is one of the leading sports psychologists on the tours, but also works with athletes from a variety of sports. He is the sports psychologist for one of the largest university athletic departments as well as an NBA basketball team. He is a licensed clinical psychologist and former collegiate athlete, having been on two national championship teams during his competitive time.

He owns The MindSide (www.themindside.com) in Birmingham, Alabama, and can be followed on Twitter at @DrBhrettMcCabe and has a great podcast on the Itunes Store – The MindSide Podcast.

 

 

Irish Open

 

 

 

The weather has not been kind to us golfers here in Ireland this winter. Lots of rain and wind. I can count on one hand the amount of frosty mornings there has been which is astounding really. There has been very little of the sunny, calm and crisp days that are lovely to play golf in during the winter. But the days are getting longer and the spring is in sight. The golf season wont be long upon us.

No doubt many of you have been working hard on your game over the winter. Working hard in the gym getting in better shape. Making some technical changes with your coach. All positive steps to getting better. The schedule is out for all of the tournaments for the year and its a great time to plan the season ahead.  Getting the right schedule can be tricky. I know when I play too much golf especially in the busy summer months that my golf game suffers. Its quite common amongst the top amateur players in Ireland at peak season when there is several tournaments in a row. Mental fatigue mixed with physical tiredness. Now is a great time to introduce some protocols to help prevent mental fatigue in summer.

Before I hand you over to Bhrett here is a couple of things that ive seen the very best players do.

They are not afraid to take a complete break from the game.  Shane Lowry and Chris Selfridge have taken a whole month off this winter. They came back refreshed and itching to practice and play. So taking a break from the game even if it is a short break during the season is a great idea and it will freshen you up physically and mentally. You will not lose your swing if you take a week off!

The best players also seem to get their playing schedule exactly right. They never play too many weeks in a row. Its ok to miss a tournament here and there. You cant play in every tournament! Some players feel they have to play in every event where they would be better off picking a good schedule with some nice breaks planned and trusting themselves to perform in the events they play when they are mentally fresh.  With that in mind ill pass you over to Dr McCabe who will talk about another factor to consider at this time of year. Willpower.

 

Willpower – The Key to Success and The Partner to Guilt

Bhrett McCabe, PhD

As a psychologist, I am often approached to help an athlete or client “increase” motivation for an upcoming tournament, task, to lose weight, or get better in the gym. The call is usually the same – it comes from a frustated coach or parent because the player has all the tools to be successful, but under training and pressure, it appears that they are resisting growth. Something in their effort or progress highlights that there may be a motivation problem.

 

Motivation is a very unique concept. It is different for everyone and to complicate matters more, it is very dependant upon desires, fears, and stress. For instance, it would be easily assumed that every player on the PGA Tour is motivated to play well, but what is the motivation? For some, it is to become number one in the world, to win every tournament they face, and grow their status. For others that were number one, it may be to get back to number one, but the real motivation may be to not slip outside the top 10. They may say number one is their goal, but the truth is that the motivation to not fail may be a larger motivation than the one to succeed. Others may be motivated to try and stay on tour, to gain respect of others, and to try and survive. On the surface, they will have the stock answers of winning tournaments, but motivation is only displayed when the bright lights are off, when no one is watching, and most importantly, when they look in the mirror.

 

The complete concept of motivation is more than this blog entry, but motivation is very related to a concept of willpower – that internal motivation to do something and stick with it. When was playing, I used to watch teammates finish workouts, finish practice, and go for a run. I was amazed because normally after practice, I was exhausted and the last thing I wanted to do go do more physical training. I would feel really guilty that my teammates were doing more than I was doing, that I did not have the willpower that they did at that moment. While I was doing everything demanded of me, I felt guilty for not having the mental energy, motivations, and passion to do more. I felt that I was lacking willpower.

 

The truth was that I was not lacking willpower at all. All of my work was done and completed according to plan. I gave full effort at practice, worked my tail off in the gym, attended class, and studied hard. I was simply depleted at night – exhausted from a job well done of effort and commitment. The fact that I was not doing more was not a sign of an absence of willpower, but instead, my tank was empty. What I understand now is that willpower is not a trait but rather a resource.

 

When I get the calls from the coaches and parents, the first place I examine in those athletes are the demands they are having to face on a daily basis. Their willpower, like all athletes, is a resource that either gets invested in or gets withdrawn from during the day. The goal for all of us is to have enough in the willpower tank to pull on it when needed, but we cannot take withdrawls on empty accounts. There are no willpower credit cards – no Gold Cards, Platnimum memberships, or lines of credit. Willpower is what it is and what you have is what you have. Research has continually demonstrated ways to improve it and grow it, so let’s discuss it.

 

To maximize your willpower, here are few tips, both from research (I am not including the citations because these are general topics and not specific references) and my experience:

  1. Willpower does better when the day, the practice, and the training plan are written down and planned in advance. It is hard to buy groceries, workout, or practice without a plan. The negative emotions of that scenario leads to more work than is needed and the frustration of inefficiency. The more negative emotions we experience during the day, the more guilt is experienced, and willpower is stolen from.
  2. Speaking of guilt, which I define as the devilish partner of willpower, is a killer of willpower and motivation. Sure, it may help in the short run to get your back on track, but the long term deterioration as a result of guilt, simply will steal motivation and energy to goal related tasks. Often times, coaches miss the underlying guilt of an athlete that they feel that they have failed or disappointed the coach, so they simply avoid more training and likely disappointment.
  3. Self-efficacy, or the internal belief in ones’ ability to succeed at a task, is critically associated with willpower. Sure, there are times where the perseverance is important, but overall, if an athlete does not belief that they can succeed, they will not have the willpower to push through it.
  4. Schedule the things that you want to do and need your mental energy and willpower earlier in the day when you have more willpower. It depletes over the course of the day due to different demands so waiting to do the hard things at the end of the day is a losing proposition.
  5. Finally, communication and insight are great catalysts of willpower. If a coach fails to ask a player what is happening and what they are feeling, they are creating a wall between the player and coach dynamic.

 

For 2016, look at trying to schedule and monitor your willpower for your success. Be different and do it differently to get better results this year. Remember, your willpower is not a trait your born with, but a skill, resource, and characteristic that you grow.

 

Many thanks to Dr McCabe for taking the time to contribute to the blog. I hope you all enjoyed it. Next guest on the blog will be Frans Bosch and we will be talking about the golf swing and exercise! 

 

Thank You Pro

 

Its 9am on the 26th of December . St Stephens Day here in Ireland. I look out the window and it is absolutely bucketing down. A day in the pub watching a super day of horse racing and sport was on the cards.  Then i can hear Bobby’s  voice in my head  “Well Pro. Get the wets on. Lets go hit a few ”  So i got changed and hopped in the car and drove the twenty minutes from Balbriggan to Bettystown. I got the wets on and strolled over to the practice ground in Laytown and Bettystown Golf Club where i learned so much over the years from the great man. It was a cold and wet day but i was able to get a productive couple of hours practice in, despite the inclement conditions. I felt like i had a purpose again. I felt alive.

This is what i used to do all the time. Grind it out. There wasn’t many others out practicing today i thought. I started to  remember this is how i used to think. Mentally these type of thoughts would give you little victories in your own mind. All them little victories added up would lead to big victories.  The last 15-18 months i have not had many of them small little victories in my own mind.  I certainly had not worked as hard on my game as i had in previous years and the results have shown that. Yes I’m busy in work and studying for a masters and I’m very lucky and thankful of that but there was still time to work on my game. It could be too wet or too windy. Some reason not really good enough for me not to go hit a few. As Bobby said “A little soft” . But maybe i just didn’t have a purpose.

I first heard of  RJ Browne at the age of 17 from my best friend Ian Griffin who was coached by Bobby in Gormanston College. Ian had a fine game. He hit it long and straight off the tee and hit long irons that would take flags out from 200 yards. Meanwhile i was a 5 handicap and had a golf swing which looked like it was killing snakes in a telephone box. But in my defence i had only been playing for two years and i had learned how to play from Jack Nicklaus books i had loaned from the local library. Not really an ideal long term athletic development plan but that was about to change.  Other pupils of Bobbys all seemed to be great ball strikers. Great drivers of the ball and fine exponents of the long irons. I wanted that.

I called Bobby up and booked a lesson. So off i went on foot from my house with the clubs on my back. Golf bags were heavy back then. It was a mile walk from my house to the station. A ten minute train ride from Balbriggan train station to Laytown train station. Then it was a 3 mile walk to the golf club in Bettystown. When i look back at it now i must have been stone cold mad or maybe just one determined young fellow. Many of the walks were in the driving rain and dead into the wind. A great wind for the practice ground in the golf club though!

Bobby and i hit it off from the word go. We shared the same first name and same Initials in our first and second name (RJ) and i loved that.  He treated everybody the same no matter who they were but he could sense my enthusiasm and that i was keen to improve and he admired that.

Lessons with Bobby toughened me up. I remember one occasion he noticed that i had not done much work from the previous lesson. I told him i  couldn’t practice  due to the golf course being closed in Balbriggan. ” No such thing as couldn’t ! Whats wrong with the beach in Balbriggan? Perfect to hit balls off”  So i practiced on the hard sand of the beach for many a winters day in Balbriggan. Got me in trouble with some of the locals but i didn’t care. He knew my flat swing at the time would have to get more on plane to strike a ball crisply off the sand. He always said to me that you could always work on your game no matter where or what the conditions were.

After one of our first lessons he left me on the practice ground to hit a few more while he walked back to the pro shop. I think i hit about twenty shots. I was pretty happy. I have it sussed i thought. So i picked up my tightly bunched group of balls and headed in. I got to the shop and he roared ” What are you doing back in here already, Get back out there you couldn’t have it by now”  So off i went for another couple of hours. He was drilling a work ethic into me. Which was great because i loved working hard at my game.

Sometimes when we are young we don’t realise the life lessons we are getting at that current time. Lessons were not always plain sailing with Bobby. One morning he was trying to get me to do something with my backswing but i was having trouble understanding what he wanted me to do. He wasn’t happy i could tell. He took a long deep sigh and turned away and off he went walking a full sixty yards towards the fence which separated the practice ground from the beach. I was thinking he had finally lost the plot and i was getting a right jab to the left arm on his return. But he walked the sixty yards back and cool as a cucumber explained it to me in another way which i was able to understand. Looking back there was two lessons in that for me.  First of all it woke me up and got me concentrating better. Second of all that walk for him was clearing his head and calming himself down. There has been times myself when coaching when clients are not doing things how id like and sometimes you need a few seconds to gather your thoughts. Taking a walk or a drink of water helps a lot in that regard. Sometimes you need a few moments to clear your head and calm down.

Sadly Bobby passed away yesterday on Christmas Day after fighting with cancer for many years. I will miss him very much. I was lucky enough to spend an hour with him a few weeks ago in the hospital just the two of us having a chat and we both knew we were saying goodbye. He told me he was proud of me with what i had achieved but then gave out to me for not winning more! That was typical of Bobby. He would give you confidence and then challenge you.  ” Hold your finish, Look like a golfer. ” Almost every lesson he would say that to me. He thought me how to play the low stinger and called it my million dollar shot. Then he would challenge me to hit low fades and low draws. I had forgotten how to hit that shot until recently but I’m back working hard on it again with another top coach John Kelly.

Its amazing when someone dear to your heart passes away. It really has given me a purpose to work hard at my golf again. As i get older and learn more about life i believe that having a purpose is key to succeeding in something. No matter what it is. I feel i had lost that purpose somewhat in my golf the last couple of years and thats part of life. It happens. But I know that day in the hospital when he was saying goodbye to me that he was also challenging me. “Get back out there and work hard at it! There is plenty more wins in you”

I feel like i have my purpose back again now thanks to my old friend. I hope i can keep it for a good while because when you have a purpose sometimes good things can happen. In my opinion The word “Legend” is thrown out too easy these days. But the great Bobby Browne was a legend of Irish Golf. I will miss our chats and his words of wisdom. But what he did for my golf and for my life i will be forever thankful. Thank you pro.

 

 

Matchplay, Time for it to take a back seat.

Before you go on the attack, i love matchplay golf. I have a better matchplay record than strokeplay in Irish Amateur Golf and i would probably have a better chance of winning more championships if they were all matchplay format rather than strokeplay. I won 7 matches to win the South of Ireland in 2009 as well as further appearances in the semis and quarters. I have a pretty good win percentage in matchplay from interprovincials to senior cup. I won five matches to get to the final of the West of Ireland only this year. So before you think I’m writing this due to a dislike for matchplay golf its not the case.

So what is my agenda i hear you ask. Yes i do have one. I have quite a few. I will get my own request out of the way first. In fact its not just my request. I’m speaking for the majority of working amateurs in this country. We would like to be able to play in as many golf tournaments as possible without having to take time off work. Pretty fair request i think. Anyway enough about me and the working amateur golfer for the time being. Lets talk about the up and coming elite players.

Like a lot of you out there i would love to see a lot of these great young talents make it to the European Tour and have a successful professional career. We have all rejoiced at the amazing achievements of Rory, Shane, Graeme, Paul, Darren and Padraig. They are an inspiration and fill us with a great sense of national pride. So what can be done to give the next batch of budding superstars the best possible chance of making it in the professional ranks?  In the last few years we have had several of our leading amateurs turn professional yet so far none of them are quite setting the world alight. I have every faith in Kevin Phelan and Alan Dunbar doing the business over the next few years as they are world class players. But is there something that we can do that could help the next batch of leading amateur players? I believe there is. Plus the great thing is, i also feel it can help myself and the working amateur golfers of the country yet also boost the game of golf at grassroots level.

Currently in Ireland 4 of our 6 championships are matchplay events. To put this into reality the English Golf Union has one matchplay tournament The English Amateur Close (where you have to be English).The Scottish Golf Union has one matchplay tournament. The Scottish Amateur Close (yes you have to be a Scot). Of course the biggest one of them all The Amateur Championship is a matchplay event attracting players from all over the world. Without question the preferred format of top amateur golf in the UK and in fact all over Europe is predominately strokeplay championships.

In my opinion changing at least 2 of these matchplay championships  into strokeplay  is  a winner for several parties. Turn them into a 3 day event (36 holes final day) instead of the current standard matchplay event of  5 days.

1. The host club gets 2 more days to earn much needed green fees.

2. The working amateur does not have to take as many days off.

3. The young up and coming elite amateur golfer gets more strokeplay experience (almost all tour events are strokeplay) and also crucially they get to take more rest days in an already cramped playing schedule.

4. More time off for Golfing Union of Ireland officials and volunteers while saving Union expenses at the same time.

West Or Ireland Semi Final 18th hole

 

 

Are there any negatives i hear you ask? Well I’m sure the biggest argument against my idea would be tradition. Several decades of matchplay tournament tradition. Well Im sorry guys. Things change. Amateur golf has completely changed in the 18 years that i have being competing.  Its not amateur golf  in the traditional sense anymore. Its being dominated by professional amateurs. If thats not a change to tradition then i don’t know what is.

I still remember my first two golfing heroes. The first one was a working amateur in his early thirties. Mr Stephen Mc Kenna was the best player in the club when i was starting around 14 years of age. Ill never forget the first shot i seen him play on the first in Balbriggan when he spun a mid iron off the first green. ” Wow” i thought. How did he do that! He was a 2-3 handicapper but we all thought he was God back then. Kids look up to people like that. I have always tried to remember that when i see the juniors in my club and try to help them in any way i can.  The second one Mr Ian Griffin was a fellow Balbriggan junior member and also happened to be my best mate. He was ten times the player i was growing up.  We travelled to all the boys and youths tournaments together and he drove it a country mile with a Seve Ballesteros like short game. “Griff”  played for Leinster at boys and youths level as well as being beaten finalist to G-Mac in the Ulster boys(with yours truly on the bag). He was a different hero to me than Stephen for the simple fact i was busting my backside to try and be as good as him. Both of these guys were a huge part in my development as a player. Without them both in my early golfing years, there is no question i would not have done what I have done so far.

The reason i told you about my first golfing heroes is quite simple. At grassroots level the youngsters of today look up to both the working amateur and the elite amateur. They both serve a purpose and inspire kids to improve their golf. One of my favourite photos of the year was of Dave O Donovan celebrating the winning putt for Muskerry Golf Club in the Barton Shield in September. I was in Cork last week and my friend Stephen Hayes the head professional in Douglas was telling me Davey and his teammates are like players of Manchester United down in the club right now! I love to hear things like that because it means that children are being inspired. It would not be of surprise to hear of some future champions coming out of muskerry in the next 4-5 years.

 

Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 01.02.13pic courtesy of Pat Cashman

 

 

Pat Finn and his staff at the Golfing Union of Ireland are doing a fantastic job. They are constantly trying to improve the structure of the amateur game and have been extremely progressive over the last few years. The elite players are being sent to tournaments all around the world and are having success. I was lucky enough to be sent to South Africa last year along with seven others and it was no surprise that 4 of the panel occupied the last four spots in the West of Ireland a few weeks later. So they have to be applauded for the work so far but their job is not complete. They have been consistently getting feedback from the players trying to figure out the right formula.  Sadly there have been a couple of body blows to the working amateur the last two seasons with the Irish Amateur moving to four days from three and just recently the South of Ireland has been moved back to a Wednesday start from Saturday. It all means more days off work for the working amateur. The South has been moved to attract a better field. Im not sure it will attract the field they are hoping to with these changes. But a 72 hole Strokeplay event on friday , Saturday, Sunday would certainly have.

 

 

IMG_1993Pic . Brian Keogh Irish Golf Desk

 

 

Working in the area of Strength and Conditioning and Sports Performance i love to see Irish Golfers do well and achieve great things across the world. In my opinion the best way of boosting this going forward is to look after both the working amateur and the elite professional amateur. Changing matchplay tournaments to Strokeplay would be a great start. Every top amateur golfer, working or elite,  has a role to play in the future development of golf in this country Every youngster needs someone to look up to. Age or work should not come in the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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