Cannon Performance Blog

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.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 21.30.32

 

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! 

 

Page 1 of 41234
Cannon Performance