General News

Thoracic Mobility

Thoracic mobility. Its pretty important to have if you are a golfer. Or any sport. In fact even if you don’t play sport it is pretty important to have if you want to avoid any horrible neck or back pain. So what is this thoracic area i hear you ask. By definition it is the 12 vertebrae that connect with the ribcage and is located between the lumbar spine(lower back)  and the cervical spine(neck). Lack of movement in this area can cause it to stiffen. As we get older it also tends to stiffen. Having a stiff thoracic spine can cause us to look for range of motion in other areas such as the lower back or the neck. So as a golfer,  improving your thoracic spine is a no brainer to help you avoid any unnecessary back or neck pain.

When i see a client for the first time i screen them to find out what areas need more mobility. The thoracic spine is a common area of the body that needs more mobility. With my clients i like to work on different planes of motion when working on the thoracic spine. Here are three of my favourite Thoracic mobility exercises.

Thoracic Extension Bends

 

Reachbacks Elbows Down

 

ELDOA Thoracic Circles

 

 

 

Why you should have a plan

With the golf season coming to an end i am finding more time to catch up on my reading. I love reading. Its relaxing, educational and it sparks a fire in me to be more productive with myself in everything i do whether its work, education or sports. Currently I’m reading a book called “Start with why” from  Simon Sinek. Simon’s passion in life is to inspire people to greater things. Quiet rightly he believes we are all capable of greater things with the correct attitude and application. At some stage we have to take leadership for the things in our lives. Whether its our college course selection, career direction or revamping the process and work ethic to our golf game. One thing that is vital in all decisions is the importance of planning ahead and getting a structured game plan in place. In his book Mr Sinek tells us a story that shows us the importance of getting that plan right from the very beginning.

Japanese Car Makers

A group of executives from An American car company visited Japan to study how the Japanese car company ran their assembly line. It all seemed routine and standard to the American assembly line apart from one process at the end of the line. On the American line they employed someone to tap the edges of the car door with a rubber mallet to ensure the door fitted perfectly on the hinges. Japan had nobody doing this or a machine to do it. On noticing this the American executives asked their Japanese counterparts why wasn’t this done. “We make sure it fits when we design it” was the reply. Japanese car doors last longer and are safer structurally than the American car doors. Why so? It is because they designed the outcome they desired from the start of the process.

Why we should have a fitness plan 

We can learn a lot from our Japanese car making friends when it comes to starting a fitness plan. We need to set ourselves a long term goal and have that final goal in mind from the start. Instead of making short cuts and stop gap solutions we can save ourselves time, protect our long term health  and save some money with a proper long term plan.

First Steps to your golf fitness plan 

August and September is a great time to get your plan together and get a headstart on your 2015 golf season goals. First step is to get a full body screening and assessment which should include a movement screen identifying your mobility and stability weaknesses. These issue’s could be preventing you from getting into technical swing positions that your golf coach wants you to be in. A qualified strength and conditioning coach who is also certified with TPI with a good understanding of the golf swing and the body will ensure there is no stone left unturned.

A body fat measurement is also a good idea so you can monitor your progress over the winter. A leaner golfer equals a more efficient golfer and fat loss with muscle gain should be one of your goals.  A leaner golfer will not only have you better physically but mentally too as looking and feeling good will give you a huge psychological boost.

After your initial screening your trainer will be able to design for you a proper periodised plan for the months ahead. I have all my players on a proper structured plan with different phases for the season. Normally i work on normalising players mobility and stability issues at the first phase before moving on to strength, power and then golf specific. This ensures the player is flexible, strong , explosive and dynamic for the start of the 2015 season.

Having a golf fitness plan is one part of the jigsaw. A player should also sit down with his golf coach/psychologist at this time of year for review and reflection of the 2014 season. Discussing your strengths and weaknesses will enable you to come up with a plan to address any issues that need to be worked on. Structuring your plans from the very beginning , just like the Japanese car makers , gives you the best possible chance to make 2015 your most successful season yet. To quote Oliver Wendell Homes  ” I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving”

 

How Strength Training helped Rory McIlroy

In August 2006 Ballyliffin Golf Club was the venue for the Interprovincial championships. For any non Irish reading this, the interprovincial championships is a team competition between the four provinces of Ireland. Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster. I was playing for Leinster and  a 17 year old kid called Rory McIlroy was playing for Ulster. It was here that i first noticed Rory’s interest in fitness. I had just finished a workout in the gym and bumped into Rory in the lobby. “I want to get myself some of those” he said pointing to my biceps. I don’t think they were that impressive back then! But that moment always stuck in my mind as I’ve watched Rory turn himself into an athlete. He has always had an interest in fitness and making himself stronger. With enthusiasm, its a lot easier to have dedication and he clearly has for strength training.

Earlier this week at his media conference at the PGA Championship Rory talked about how he has gained 3kg of muscle in 8 weeks and how much stronger and stable he has become.

Ive had a lot of questions about the topic this week which is the reason for this blog post!

What is Strength Training?

It is the process of effecting overload through the use of progressive resistance exercises with the aim of effecting positive force-time adaptations.

So why has Strength Training helped Rory become a better golfer? There are several reasons.

Injury Prevention

When Rory first turned pro he suffered with some minor back injuries. Back then he didn’t have the strength and stability to cope with the incredible amount of clubhead speed his golf swing produced. This was causing some dysfunction in his body leading to some pain and injury. He quickly addressed this and brought in Steve McGregor to design a programme to make him stronger in areas that needed stabilising such as glutes and abdominals. Since then he has had no back injuries. Building strong tissues- bone, muscle, tendon, ligament has enabled Rory to withstand the forces of gravity and the force of his golf swing.

Stabilisation of his neuromuscular system

Strength training involves both muscle and nerve adaptations. Strengthening the neuromuscular system results in a greater force and power output during a dynamic movement ( such as the golf swing) where speed is a key influence on the amount of force expressed. Rory is better prepared to perform his sport skills with a strong neuromuscular system.

Power and Force

Rory is ranked 3rd in driving distance on the PGA Tour this season at 310.3 yards. Last season he was 8th at 302.2. Interestingly in 2012 he was 5th at 310.1. He has certainly got his distance back this season and hitting it further than ever but more importantly he is hitting it straighter, leading him to hit more greens in regulation. Rory has been training quite a few years now and has a higher training age. This means he is much more specific with his strength training which is required for the enhancement of force and power. Being heavier but with  lower body fat  will help with this.

Leaner and meaner

Strength training burns calories and will reduce body fat levels with the help of a good diet. Increasing the proportion of lean tissue in the body will as a consequence burn more calories during exercise. Also being stronger,  looking leaner and feeling fitter will give anybody a huge psychological boost.

Without doubt strength training has helped Rory McIlroy become the worlds best player. With three majors under his belt already, the sky is the limit to how many he could win in the next twenty years. Being in great shape will help him play for another 20-25 years at the highest level.

Rory is a great role model for young golfers. Not only is he an amazing golfer but also an extremely polite and likeable guy. Any up and coming champion should watch his press conferences and how well he speaks to the media.

Strength training can help to instil order and discipline to any young athletes lifestyle. Which Rory is clearly showing at present.

“The weak don’t last. The strong do.” Ruby Walsh

2013 was a great year. The 2nd half of the season didn’t quite match the first half but any year you win a championship, especially if its the biggest one held on the island of Ireland, its a year to be very content with. All in all i played very inconsistent golf all season but as a friend of mine pointed out, you would much rather play inconsistent and win than play consistent and not win. For 2014 my goal is to play more consistent and win! With the work I’ve been putting in during the off season i see this as a very realistic goal. continue reading

“Fail to prepare, Prepare to fail” Roy Keane

It is the start of September and the golf season is coming to an end. It is the time for review and to evaluate how the season went. A lot of golfers have already thought to 2014 and what they need to do to improve their games for next season. The intelligent and motivated golfers have already put plans in place and have put the wheels in motion to start their off season training in all aspects of their game. continue reading

The Story so far

The first half of the amateur season is done and dusted and after a couple of weeks off, the second half is about to commence with the North of Ireland starting monday. Ive been working on some technical stuff on my swing with Seamus Duffy the last couple of weeks so hopefully i can go into competition mode by monday. Its important to keep working on the fundamentals and skills when you get some time off. It can be very hard to do this during the season in Ireland with so many tournaments in quick succession. But i have done some good work the last couple of  weeks and it will keep me in good shape for the reminder of the season. Im hoping the second half of the season will be just as exciting as the first half. It has flew by so quickly but i guess thats what happens when you are having fun. Im going to write a little about my thoughts on each tournament so far this season and ill start with the latest tournament first. continue reading

The One A Into the West

‘On my last visit i talked about the four Bs. After a bitterly cold few days in Rosses Point there is only one A we need to talk about and that is ATTITUDE’

A week before the tournament top Irish coach Seamus Duffy organised a mini tournament for players that he coaches in the breathtaking resort of Rosapenna in Co. Donegal. It was my first time to the area and the scenic views on the drive to the golf club almost caused me to drive off the road. It really is that beautiful. The views don’t stop when you get to the golf course either. Stunning. A really fine golf course that tests every part of your game. It would be a fine venue for The Golfing Union to send a championship to in the foreseeable future. To make things even more enjoyable the director of golf Mr Frank Casey Jr looked after us so well we all believed we were tour players.  continue reading

SeveBallesteros

The Four Bs

‘If we were all playing our very best, there would be only one winner, every time; and that would be Sandy Lyle’  Severiano Ballesteros

Before turning professional the talented Scottish golfer Sandy Lyle was advised by his father that if he was to make it as a pro golfer he should be keen to avoid the three Bs. Birds , Booze and Boredom. Very wise words that Sandy would appear to have followed winning two major championships and an induction to the World Golf Hall of fame. Sandy has probably not been given the credit he deserves for his talent and success as a golfer. He certainly wasn’t a big hit with the media and a lot of people just couldn’t warm to him but his record speaks for itself and Sevy didn’t give out glowing compliments if it wasn’t the case. continue reading

The value of coaching

When i took up golf at 15 i was always blessed with the ability to listen and to be coached. Not every person is like this. I took lessons from the great Bobby Browne in Bettystown golf club right from the word go. I remember every few weeks getting the golf clubs on my back  and walking a mile to the train station in Balbriggan. Got the train to Laytown and then walking the three miles to Bettystown golf club with the clubs on my back. If i was lucky it wasn’t into a gale force northerly wind but mostly in winter it was. I didn’t really mind that too much as i knew it was a lovely wind to get a lesson with bobby as we would be hitting shots right into the wind. After the lesson and a few hours of working on changes id walk back again with the clubs on my back back to catch the train home. On occasion Bobby would feel sorry for me and drive me back. But i loved going for lessons. Back then as a teenager i realised the importance of getting coaching and Bobby has the best coaching eye in the country. They talk about the 10,000 hour rule to be world class and Bobby has 50,000 hours. I was very lucky to have a coach like that so close to me growing up.  continue reading

South 2011

Eventful is the best possible word to describe my week in Lahinch 2011! The first round was played in lovely conditions and after having an eight on the 7th i was delighted to shoot 71 (-1)  This was helped by a run of birdie, eagle, eagle, birdie from 11-14. Ive never had back to back eagles before so this was a bit of a thrill! Qualifying was reduced to 27 holes due to a deep mist over the course that suspended play for a few hours.

Played really well all week and was disappointed not to come home with the trophy again although getting to the semi finals was a decent performance. Could not have played much better in the semi final but it wasnt to be. Two good weeks in a row with a quarter final and a semi final. Looking forward to the rest of the season. Onwards and upwards!

 

 

Cannon Performance