Bridging The Gap
Most golfers seek out a coach when they want to improve their golf game and a club-fitter when they want to buy new clubs. These two have been separating slowly over time but are currently at an all-time high. However don’t the two share a common goal to improve performance? The truth is that a golfer’s performance and the equipment they use go hand in hand, which is why Equipment is one of our 5 Elements of Success here at The Golf Performance Center. Imagine this scenario: a golfer with custom fit irons is working with his coach on a swing change, going from a “fade” to a “draw”. The custom fit irons that were previously a perfect fit for the golfer’s fade swing, are now too upright for his draw swing, causing his face to be closed at impact. Mix that with his new “in to out” club path and you have a recipe for hooks. If the industry can bridge the gap between fitters and coaches, we will start to have a better understanding of the ecosystem that influences the golfer’s performance. This deeper understanding of how equipment influences performance, fuels itself with the success of each golfer.Read More
The Value of Knowing Where You Are!
Imagine that you are on a journey, driving across the country from the east coast to the west coast. Your navigation system isn’t working and somehow driving in the dark you took a wrong turn. Bam! Now you’re lost in the middle of nowhere! How could that be? You’re thinking, I was just fine an hour ago on Route 40 West, how could I be lost? Well, somehow you missed the slight right hand turn and ended up lost in the middle of nowhere! Such a subtle thing made a huge difference to your journey. How frustrating!! This is where having a map is a great thing, pulling out your road map to find where you are, then navigating back onto the right path to get you to your ultimate destination. Now that you have gotten back on track, isn’t it great to reflect back on your journey and in most cases fondly recall the things you learned along the way? Remembering a picturesque town, amazing landscapes that you would have never seen, or great people that you may have never met had you not gotten “lost.” In reflection, you may realize that you became better for being lost, you gained something that may not have otherwise happened if you would have not gotten lost. Funny how life is like that!
Well, golf is like your road journey. You will get lost at times, you will get frustrated, but you will pull your road map for improvement (5 Elements of Success Binder), find out where you are, and get back on your journey. Don’t forget to reflect and fondly recall your starting point, see where you have improved on the elements that you are working on and continue to learn from your playing and practicing experiences. If you do not have a road map to guide you through your golf journey, book a 5 Elements of Success Evaluation at The Golf Performance Center NOW! (shameless plug). There is much value in knowing where you are as a golfer. Do you know your skill level? Are you physically capable of doing the things you want to do in golf? Do you have the mindset it takes to get to where you want to be with golf? Is your equipment right for you? Until you know where you are it is highly probable you will not get to where you want to go! We would recommend seeing your golf professional to help create your road map ASAP! Without a plan to help you navigate through your golf journey to improvement or to your lofty goals as a competitive player. You will get lost and getting back on track will be more difficult because you will have no idea where you started or where you are in relation to your path to your goals. A quick fix to your golf swing will not keep you from getting lost, it will only lead you in circles!
ENJOY YOUR JOURNEY!Read More
Changing the Game: Standardized
Testing and Student Athletes
It is frustrating and scary to be in the unknown, and millions of high school scholar athletes are facing the uncertainties that lie ahead, especially when it comes to college applications and recruitment. The National Collegiate College Association (NCAA) has strict eligibility requirements for athletes who wish to compete at Division I and II schools, that include a minimum standardized test score from either the SAT or ACT. As a result of COVID-19, neither of these tests are currently being administered. This means some high school seniors may have missed their last chance to raise their scores for admissions this summer and juniors who want to apply to colleges early will have fewer opportunities to take the tests. Unlike the non-athlete student, who only has to meet college board requirements for applications, student athletes must meet those requirements in addition to those of the NCAA.
Caught between a rock and a hard place, last week, the NCAA released a statement saying current high school seniors, class of 2019-2020, are eligible to play college sports without providing SAT/ACT scores. I’m sure seniors on their third or fourth attempts to raise their SAT scores to become eligible athletes are sighing in relief. However, there is significant uncertainty among the current high school juniors who have not received such exemption from the NCAA. For the time being, the College Board is planning to continue testing when schools reopen in the fall. In the unlikely event that schools are unable to open, a digital form of the SAT will be available for students to complete at home. Many universities are pushing back application deadlines, giving students more time to take the tests and submit their scores, while some colleges and universities are changing their requirements all together.
There has been a “test optional” movement in the past few years, and some universities are using this time to experiment making this model permanent. Without test scores, student athletes may stand a better chance in the application process. Admissions officers would have to take a more holistic approach to evaluating a student’s fit at their school. There would be an even greater emphasis on extracurricular activities, and sports would contribute to creating a profile that stands out along with solid grades, leadership, and community service. Students would not be dismissed from consideration for admission based on one test score, but would be evaluated on their ability to create a strong academic profile that is interesting to admissions officers. Students would have to be creative to make themselves seen, as well as learn life skills that contribute to an increasingly important college interview process. By going test optional, more students would have the opportunity to stand out as individuals rather than be normed by a standardized testing system, and schools all over would be more ethnically and intellectually diverse.
As for the future of testing, we can only wait and see. The NCAA says that they will continue to adjust and make decisions based on research, fairness, and equity among students. So, take a deep breath, and know everyone is feeling the same uneasiness. College admissions boards and coaches are people who are also being impacted by this pandemic. They want to work with you, and may be giving more attention than ever, considering the data that supports the increasing number of individuals who are re-thinking attending college next year, or even at all. They will be flexible and understanding as everyone makes their way down this unpaved path.
At Ethan Allen Preparatory, we are encouraging our students to put their health and mental well being first and foremost. It is not worth creating stress over something that there is little to no control over. Instead, we are shifting our focus to areas we can control! Due to our established online delivery model, our students are still able to earn grades in their courses that contribute to their overall grade point averages. And, just as they are continuing to practice their golf game, they are staying sharp with their SAT skills by engaging in our virtual EAP classroom. If your student is wondering if they should still be preparing for standardized tests, or unsure how, please reach out for information!Read More
Sampling Other Sports
Junior golf, like many youth sports, can become all-encompassing and overwhelming as a junior athlete progresses to each level of the sport. It is important to maintain perspective and recognize the importance of developing certain fundamental movement skills (i.e. running, hopping, skipping, jumping, throwing, catching, striking, etc.) at particular points throughout the athlete’s physical development. Jordan Spieth is a great example of an athlete in our sport who grew up playing multiple sports. This experience helped him develop the body awareness, and neuromuscular connections necessary to excel at the sport he ultimately wanted to focus on and helped him become one of the best players in the world at a very young age. Participating in multiple sports as a junior athlete gives them the ability to develop these skills in various atmospheres, facing an array of physical challenges, all helping the athlete become more well-rounded and prepared for the sport at which they may like to dedicate themselves to when the time is right.
Highly regarded Sports Psychologist on the PGA Tour, Rick Jensen, uses the term “sampling” to describe the involvement of a junior athlete in various sports as they grow up. Introducing kids to all sports or activities they show interest in at a young age is important to determining their strengths and weaknesses as they develop and get older. Not until the junior enters high school do they really need to start narrowing down their focus. This still doesn’t mean they need to “pick one sport” just yet, as they should simply tighten the screws a little more and begin to delve deeper into the intricacies of what it is going to take to get to the next level in whatever sport they choose. Typically, by the athlete’s sophomore year, we encourage anyone who has been building this foundation of movement and skill and are interested in playing college golf to “flick the switch” and begin to focus their attention specifically on taking their game to the next level.
The importance of building that solid foundation early on through participation in multiple activities (not solely athletics) cannot be overstated. One of the first questions I ask in our physical evaluation process is what sports did you play growing up? Often I get the answer “Oh! I played them all” and I find very obvious differences in the foundation of these athletes compared to those who may have only participated in one sport. In addition to the potential risk of “burnout” a youth athlete may face by the time they are in high school, the fundamentals developed from playing multiple sports in the early years stick with our nervous system for the rest of our lives, and therefore you cannot allow yourself to get caught up in the quick sand that is early specialization in sports.
SEE YOU IN THE ZONE!Read More
GEAR EFFECT: A Love Story
Getting your ball in play off the tee is a crucial part of playing the game of golf. One of the main fundamentals of good drivers of the ball is center contact, meaning, hitting the ball in the sweet spot of the club face. The reason is because as you miss-hit the ball on the club face, your ball flight will change. Imagine the center of gravity or CG of the club is aligned behind the center of the club face, or the sweet spot. When the collision occurs with the club head and the golf ball, the two CG’s are attracted to each other, this love connection produces what is known as “gear effect” and can drastically change the ball flight of your drive. Hitting the ball off the toe of the driver will result in an added draw spin (right to left for right-handed golfer), hitting the ball off the heel of the driver will result in added fade spin (left to right for right-handed golfer). For example, if you normally play a fade, a toe strike may counter the fade spin and result in a straight drive. If you already play a draw, this will more than likely result in low hook. Now you can see why hitting the center of the club is so important to getting off the tee consistently, with a repeatable ball flight.Read More
Savoring in Sports
Savoring is a practice that supports mental well-being and can enhance enjoyment of sports and life. When you practice being present with the moment, time seems to not exist anymore, and the moment itself can be savored in a way that makes it meaningful and lasting.
First you have to start becoming aware of how often you want to be somewhere else. Like being quarantined visualizing your golf game and thinking you’d rather be outside playing. Or playing the fourth hole in a game and wishing you were on the last. How about sitting around the table eating dinner with family and being distracted on your phone wishing to be with someone else? Or working on your to-do list in quarantine and wishing it were over so you could be completing your to-do’s somewhere else. The act of distracting depletes mental and emotional energy that could be used to improve and enjoy your golf game, relationships, and life.
Savoring requires presence, and being present in the moment cannot coexist with a desire to be somewhere else or thoughts about past/future. We are distracted so often in life that we miss some of the greatest and most meaningful opportunities.
I challenge you to practice savoring this week. Savoring is the act of enjoying and appreciating an experience completely, by not only reflecting on it, but by being fully present in each moment with it. Savoring intensifies and lengthens positive emotions that come with doing something you love.
This week, choose one experience to truly savor each day. It could be a warm shower, delicious meal, walk outside, playing a golf game, or practicing golf techniques. Enhance your savoring experience by sharing the experience with another person, feeling gratitude for the experience, and making sure you stay present with the experience the entire time.
You have a great opportunity with thisRead More
Get out of Trouble
Image courtesy of Reuters
All golfers hit bad golf shots, even the best players in the world. It’s what great players do after a bad golf shot that makes the biggest difference. I know you are thinking that great players will hit miraculous recovery shots which put them back into position to make a birdie or par on a hole. This is certainly the case sometimes and is a result of understanding some basic concepts of the elements that affect ball flight. However, great players also know when to take their medicine and just get the ball back in play because they understand when the factors affecting ball flight will simply not allow for that miraculous recovery shot. Let’s review how a couple different surfaces affect these trouble shots.
The rough will generally reduce the ability to put spin on the golf ball as there will be too much grass between the club and the ball. This means that the ball will not launch as high and will not curve right or left as much. When faced with a shot out of the trees this must be taken into consideration when choosing the proper club to keep the ball below branches or trying to predict how much you will be able to curve the ball around the tree. In the case of Tiger in the photo above hitting off pine needles his ability to curve the golf ball will be slightly affected compared to hitting out of the fairway but certainly not to the same degree as the rough.
Take the time to come up with combinations of scenarios in which you must curve the ball and think of different types of lies. See if you can figure out quickly how you would adjust to create the desired ball flight. Also, remember to realize when to take your medicine and just get the ball back in play.
Practice Smart!Read More
So You Think You’re a Competitor?
I have been asked over the years how I would describe myself and I thought, what a good question. For a time I struggled to come up with what I thought was a good answer. In 1994 it finally hit me. At the time, I was still trying to win on mini tours up and down the east coast, chasing the dream of being on the PGA Tour. Sad to say it didn’t happen! What it did do was help me understand how to describe myself. In trying to win events, I did not realize how much doing so hurt my ability to develop into the winner I wanted to be. I had not learned all the skills I needed to win. Hmm, that doesn’t sound like a path to success. Here is what I am getting at – winning is something that happens when a competitor develops all the necessary skills including physical, mental, technical, creative and acceptance. It takes more than a good practice or workout every once in a while or a couple of good rounds. Winning takes failing day after day at many of the skill development activities necessary to gain enough autonomy to put multiple shots together. Then you have to do it in tournament conditions. Then you must step up to being in the hunt to win (yes this is a skill) and repeat that process over and over. Surviving the ups and downs of failure and success is where the real competitor wins!
A competitor goes out every day to improve in the areas of life, sport, art, music, and business. This will eventually propel him or her to their goal of winning. So, as a competitor I compete every day not with anyone else, but with myself to give my best efforts to improve, to strive to achieve my best in the moment. Well, guess what? That’s hard. It sounds easy, but it takes effort to do the little things daily, the things like waking up early when many are still sleeping, pushing when your brain says “let’s take a break,” holding yourself accountable when no one else cares. A competitor does this not for anyone else, but themselves.
How would you describe yourself? Maybe you identify as a competitor or maybe you are trying to fool yourself? A competitor never acts without purpose and resolve, or without the means to finish the job. If you are dreaming of winning a tournament, competing for a college golf program or to win your club championship, winning happens way before the actual event takes place. The competitor knows how necessary preparation is, the struggles that must happen for the success he or she wants. A competitor embraces the challenges and looks for the learning moments. When you find them, you are one step closer to your victories!
Enjoy Your Journey!Read More
STOP – Just 3 Breaths
In life and the game of golf we find ourselves feeling hurried, restless, anxious, or stressed. On the surface we might have a slight awareness that we’re not in our ‘best self’ state. However, in the heat of the moment we keep going to be sure we finish this project, or cross that off the to-do list, or make the shot under par. We keep going without attending to what we’re feeling and ultimately these feelings end up driving behavior that’s over par.
The energy of the best self is calm, centered, grounded, open, optimistic, flexible, and reliable. When you are feeling anything outside of alignment with your best self, it’s a signal that something is out of balance and you need to connect inward.
Connecting inward isn’t easy when we’re feeling out of alignment with our best self, in fact, it almost always feels easier to disconnect and even, ignore. That’s why we have mindfulness tools to help us find our center and a better feeling state for optimal performance.
Just 3 Breaths Instruction
Apply the steps in this tool upon noticing a feeling of being hurried, restless, anxious, or stressed.
– Allow yourself a moment to pause. Stop what you are doing, right where you are.
- Take 3 conscious breaths
– Breath long and full for each breath, in and out through the nose.
– Focus on just this one inhale…and exhale…mental note – 1
– Focus on just this one inhale…and exhale…mental note – 2
– Focus on just this one inhale…and exhale…mental note – 3
- Notice how you feel and if your state has shifted. Make the intention that it’s okay to allow what you’re feeling and take it slow from here, open for new feeling states to arise in this present moment awareness.