Author: Ava Prospero

20 May
2022
  • May 20, 2022

Exercise Relentlessly!

Each year we come up with a mantra for the academy year and this year it is Relentless. With our Achieve Seniors graduating tomorrow, it got me thinking! Isn’t life all about being Relentless in everything you do? 

“Being relentless means demanding more of yourself than anyone else could ever demand of you, knowing that every time you stop, you can still do more.” once said by Tim Grover, Michael Jordan’s trainer. This quote stuck with me and relates well to everything you do in life. Whether you are in the gym squeezing out one more rep on a bench press or deep in practice and its dark out but you still need to do one more putting drill or trying to get to the University you want to attend. This reigns true for corrective exercises as well. I always hear “I didn’t have time for my exercises today”. This simply means you weren’t relentless enough with them! Corrective exercise aren’t meant to be easy, they should be challenging, making you not want to do them, but you do them anyways because you know they will help you get better! 

If you are struggling to set time for your corrective exercises I suggest simply picking a time each day that you will do them and then be relentless with it! First, choose a time that you know will always be free, my suggestion is later in the evening or first thing in the morning. Both of these time blocks typically have nothing going on during them. Do this every day for 3 weeks straight, no excuses! You should start to notice not only is the exercise feeling easier, but you didn’t even have to think about doing it, you just did. This is what being Relentless is all about. Something as simple as sticking to a corrective exercise routine daily could set you up for success in life if you are just starting your journey after High School or retired and working towards improving your golf game! 

If you are struggling with sticking to a routine, or aren’t quite sure how your exercises relate to you and your golf swing, find us in the Performance Zone and we can help you out! Always remember, with anything in life, BE RELENTLESS! 

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20 May
2022
  • May 20, 2022

The Gift Of Failure

In order to develop to elite levels of performance, your relationship to failure has to be one of inspiration. In fact, how a person deals with failure is one of the most critical determinants of their potential. Those who see failure as an opportunity to learn, will thrive while those who see failure as a time to languish, will decay or stagnate. American psychologist and Stanford University professor, Carol Dweck, wrote about the importance of learning from our failures in her best-selling book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. In her book, Dweck makes the distinction between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset: “In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail—or if you’re not the best—it’s all been wasted. The growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome.”

Fortunately, one of the great things about golf is that failure is in great abundance. It is an ideal classroom to practice the benefits of a growth mindset. Unfortunately, the current culture of golf does not see it that way. All too often, I see golfers playing for perfection and seem unwilling to accept anything less. This lack of acceptance that failure is an inherent part of the game, keeps many golfers fixed in their thinking, hopelessly striving for unattainable goals and setting themselves up for disappointment with unrealistic expectations. 

Ben Hogan famously said, “Golf is a game of misses. He who misses best, wins.” I agree with Mr. Hogan’s assessment and I would add that …he who interprets his misses as opportunities to improve wins more. The next time you face failure, I encourage you to see it as a gift; an opportunity to challenge yourself to do difficult things; to learn and grow in the development of your best self.

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The Golf Performance Center Ridgefield, CT
20 May
2022
  • May 20, 2022

A Dream

Hope + 5 Elements of Success + Consistency = Dream

What is the first thing you think about when imagining climbing Mount Everest?  I know what I just thought about, TRAINING!  Can you imagine climbing or thinking about climbing Mount Everest without training?  Where do you begin? It sounds so impossible from where you may sit today.   However, if I asked you to climb a mountain in Carmel, NY that is roughly 1,800 ft you wouldn’t give it much thought or think about training. Easy, you might say, like taking a small trail hike or a stroll in the park.  Now, if you did that every day, in the most challenging conditions, you would be training.  As the Carmel Mountain got easier, you would likely want an increase in the challenge until you felt ready to give Everest a try!  What does this have to do with golf?  Keep reading! 

For you golfers hoping to win a club championship, play collegiate golf, or being on the PGA/LPGA Tour and #1 player in the world, this is your Mount Everest.  To think that you can achieve this dream without proper planning, training, or coaching sounds improbable.  I understand golf looks easy, players on tour make it seem that way. However, none of the players get there from couch surfing or playing video games hours every day.  It takes a lot of hard work on the right things, sacrificing comfort, willingness to do what it takes to improve daily, the ability to set small goals, like completing a weekly practice plan set by you and your coach, and doing this every week, month and year.  By achieving the “small” goals you put yourself in a position to achieve the biggest goals.  It takes lots of failure to see the smallest amounts of improvement at times. For golfers, this is playing golf, trying different shots, figuring out what may work or not.  When your dream is as big as playing on the PGA/LPGA Tour it is worth taking the time to figure out a plan.  Assess your skills today. Index where you are so that you can build a plan to help you get to where you want to be.  Without a good plan and achievable goals, the struggles that come along with such a BIG dream turns into frustration and disappointment and with too much disappointment over time, this dream turns to hopelessness and POOF, dream gone!

Achieving an audacious goal can be frustrating. However, it can be a good sign that a player is making progress but, without a clear understanding of how your dream becomes reality, frustration of failure can quickly turn into self- doubt and negative self-talk. 

If you are trying to climb Mt. Everest or realize your dream of winning, collegiate golf or being on Tour, here is the secret sauce: 

#1 Have Hope 

#2 Utilize the 5 Elements of Success principles (Desire to improve, quality coaching, be physically able, function dictates form, mental growth mindset, have right equipment) 

#3 Be consistent

#4 Have Gratitude 

#5 Have Acceptance.  

When you find yourself feeling like your goals are not within reach, re-assess your skills with Player Development Assessment, reset your timeline if needed and make it manageable but, don’t leave out the challenge, you will need this for continued improvement.  Go for it, climb baby climb!!

 Enjoy Your Journey!

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13 May
2022
  • May 13, 2022

The Team Approach

Athletes who perform at the highest level of competition have a team of coaches around them.  Look at a Major League Baseball team, they have hitting coaches, pitching coaches, trainers, physical therapists, equipment managers and everything in between.  If you look on the PGA Tour you will see the same, one player will have a team of coaches they work with.  Here at GPC, we know that performance has many factors, these are the 5 Elements of Success: Desire, Physical Performance and Nutrition, Coaching, Mental Game and Equipment.  Having a team of coaches who are all on the same page is crucial to peak performance.  You may take lessons from someone and get fit from someone else, if they are not on the same page, it could get ugly.  Both coaches want the same thing, improving performance but both may have very different ideas of what that looks like for the golfer. By standing the 5 Elements of Success as pillars for development, we can ensure that our team of coaches are all moving in a single direction to help our athletes reach their goals.

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13 May
2022
  • May 13, 2022

How to Develop Laser Focus: A
Lesson from Earl Woods

If confidence is the number one psychological characteristic of elite performers, the ability to intentionally and meaningfully focus one’s attention comes in a close second. Outside of sports performance, the ability to sort through the billions of bits of sensory information that our nervous systems are constantly being bombarded with is critical to our survival. We need to sift the relevant from the irrelevant and focus our attention on those things that matter most in any given situation. This type of attention is called selective attention. A classic example of selective attention is the “cocktail party” effect which demonstrates that if you were at a noisy “cocktail party”, you would be ignoring most of the irrelevant stimuli around you. Yet, if someone were to mention your name from across the room, your attention would be instantly grabbed given the personal meaning of the message. 

Selective attention allows us to focus on those things that matter most and ignore those things that don’t. Not only has this skill allowed humans to survive for thousands of years, but it also separates the ordinary from the extraordinary athlete. The best athletes in the world are able to focus on those things that enhance performance and disregard those things that interfere with it. 

In golf, this is particularly challenging given the solitary nature of the sport, which allows for more time to be distracted by both external and internal stimuli. So, how can we practice focusing on what matters and ignore those things that don’t? For the answer, let’s turn to the genius of Tiger Woods’ dad, Earl. It’s widely known that Earl played a critical role in helping develop Tiger’s mental game. When It came to nurturing the skill of selective attention, Earl had Tiger do something very interesting; he had him practice reading while watching television. Having witnessed the amount of attention Tiger received every time he teed it up, it was clear to Earl that Tiger would benefit from learning how to ignore all of the distractions and pressure that goes along with playing in front of thousands of hypercritical eyes. By having Tiger read a book while watching television, he essentially trained Tiger to ignore the background noise while focusing on a single task at hand. As I noted earlier, being able to intentionally and meaningfully focus your attention is paramount to a golfer’s success and has worked pretty well for Tiger.

So, should you practice reading while watching television? Yes, but I think there’s a better way to hone your selective attention skills. The next time you are practicing, bring your phone with you and play something to serve as a distractor. You can play around with how distracting you want the stimuli to be. Familiar soothing music might be least distracting while loud obnoxious crowd noises (which you can find on YouTube) might be more distracting. Ideally, you want to find the level of distraction that challenges you to focus. If the sound is too distracting, it will be counterproductive. Spend at least 15 minutes going through your routine and practice ignoring the background noise by deliberately focusing on each shot. Your measure of success will be simple, were you able to block out the background noise or not. This can be difficult at first, but with repetition, you will be able to lock in on your shots. With practice, you won’t even hear the background noise and will play with laser focus.

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13 May
2022
  • May 13, 2022

The Path of Least Resistance

Your body is lazy! You may not be lazy yourself, but your body is and will pick the easiest way to do a task. This is something called the path of least resistance. This relates to anything from going to pick up a pen to exercising to playing golf. If there is resistance or “tightness” your body will avoid that range of motion and choose something else to do the task. The body is very smart and will never exert more force than it has to. 

Let’s take a dive into this concept of the path of least resistance and how it could affect your golf swing. First, a golfer needs to be evaluated through the 5 Elements of Success Evaluation. This hypothetical golfer was told they are limited in their torso rotation right and their right hip internal rotation from the Evaluation. This means that this player has resistance in both of these movements, so his or her body will naturally find a way to avoid that movement. This player may also feel “tight” in those movements, almost as if something is blocking them from rotating further. We will often see this golfer sway (movement of the body away from the target) off the ball during the backswing and potentially go into the reverse spine (the upper body moving towards the target in the backswing) with these limitations. This will place unwanted tension on the lower back during the swing. 

So, there’s good news and bad news! The good news is, it is fixable. The bad news is, it will take some time for the body to understand that it is ok to get to these range of motions. A corrective exercise plan is necessary to one, mitigate the resistance or “tightness” in the area that needs to be improved, and two, gain more range of motion with a specific exercise and teach the body that it is ok to access these new ranges of motions without getting injured. Once the golfer starts to gain more range of motion and own the range of motion, their golf swing should start to naturally get to better positions. 

Let’s go back to the hypothetical golfer with the limited rotation in the torso and hips. He or she would do this corrective exercise plan for a specific amount of time. While they are working on these exercises, the golfer starts to feel more rotation in the backswing and less low back pain. This means that the path of resistance they once had, doesn’t have resistance anymore and the golfer is able to access this during their golf swing! 

The moral of this story is a solid corrective exercise plan, attacking your specific limitations will open up more range of movement and more optimal movement in your golf swing! If you’ve never been evaluated or it has been over 6 months since your last evaluation make sure you schedule 5 Elements of Success Evaluation today! The season is here and we want to make sure you stay healthy all season long and keep all those paths of resistance away!

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The Golf Performance Center Ridgefield, CT
13 May
2022
  • May 13, 2022

Offense or Defense

When it comes to winning championships, you hear coaches refer to their game plan as an offensive or defensive plan.  You will hear, defense wins championships, offense can lose them. Coach Belichick of the New England Patriots tells his  players “do your jobs.” If the team goes out every day with the mentality of doing their job to the best of their abilities the results of the game will take care of itself.  Win or lose, Belichick says “if we did our best and lost, we got beat by a team that executed better than we did.”  One thing I like about listening to a successful coach is his/her ability to summarize a situation or game.  While playing defensively refers to playing not to make mistakes, great coaches know when their players are playing defensively because they didn’t prepare.  In a team sport, this can be easily covered up by another teammate.  

In golf, it is not so easy to cover up.  “I played aggressively today.  I wanted to attack every hole because I felt so good about my game plan, I could confidently play the shots I wanted to. I felt prepared.  After the second hole, I was in the zone. I knew what was going to happen, I felt like I couldn’t miss.”  

“I played so defensively today, I didn’t get enough reps in on this course, I felt I couldn’t find the lines off the tee, I didn’t have my speeds down on the greens, I played defensively, and couldn’t get anything going, not acceptable if I want to contend out here.”  Tiger Woods explained his lack of preparation after a round at PGA Championship when he was coming back from one of his back surgeries, he did not do his prep work. Notice he didn’t blame anyone or anything else, he took responsibility.

If you want to play great golf, the takeaway is: be prepared.  Having a plan to play great golf makes it easier to play offensively or aggressively.  Avoid playing defense on the course unless you are aggressively playing defensively or conservatively, meaning, you have considered the consequences of taking a risk but feel confident that it will pay off.  This has a higher probability of paying off versus taking the risk but not sure of the consequences, which leads to a defensive swing and often missed shot that ends up costing multiple shots.   We have all learned this lesson, by not being prepared, we play a shot that is defensive due to lack of preparation and botch it, walking off the hole with a big number!  

As you are preparing for your summer of “big” rounds or tournaments, remember, preparation is the key. Know your skills and your abilities to pull off the game plan you have come up with.  If you are struggling to understand your skill vs challenge, come see us at The Golf Performance Center for your PDI Assessment (player development index), or see a PGA Professional near you that can assess your skills and help you create a better plan for success.  

Enjoy Your Journey!

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06 May
2022
  • May 6, 2022

Are You Practicing Golf?

The average golfer spends time practicing by hitting balls on the driving range, usually hitting the same club over and over.  That golfer may be working on improving their swing, trying to groove a better swing that will translate to better shots on the course.  However, golf is unique in the fact that it is not played on a regulated court, field, or track. One course contains 18 different holes of golf, presenting different shapes, hazards, grass types, slopes and other variables. A golfer will encounter a number of different shots throughout the round, one shot the ball may be above your feet and the next below, one shot your left foot may be higher than your right and the next shot you have one foot in the sand. For this reason, trying to develop “perfect” swing may not be the best approach. Instead, think about developing a general motor pattern, one that can be adapted or modified to handle the variety of different lies and shots you may encounter in a round of golf.  So, while practicing your swing on a perfectly flat lie and off of a mat feels like improvement, you are actually not practicing golf, you’re practicing hitting balls on the range.  That disconnect is one of the many things that can make improvement so elusive. Next time you have time to practice, try hitting different shots with different clubs, drop a few balls in the rough, maybe designate 9 holes to on course practice where you can drop balls and experiment with different lies.  Now, you are practicing golf!

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06 May
2022
  • May 6, 2022

What are Macronutrients?

Everyone has heard of a calorie, but not many people have heard of a macronutrient. Well if you take a look on the back of any package of food, you will find 3 main categories: Fat, Carbohydrates and Protein. Each of these play an important role in your body’s function. As an athlete it is at the utmost importance that the body is provided with enough of each macronutrient to excel at the highest level.

The first macronutrient is Protein and is made up of amino acids. Protein is essential in your diet for muscle repair, growth and recovery. During exercise we break down muscle tissue to, in turn, build it stronger through your post workout nutrition. This is why consuming a protein shake or post workout meal after a workout is important to replenish the body and start the recovery process.

Carbohydrates are the next macronutrient and are the body’s preferred source of energy. There are two different types of carbohydrates: simple carbs and complex carbs. Simple carbs, such as candy and cookies, enter the bloodstream quickly for our body to use for instant energy. We run into issues when too many of these simple carbs are the bulk of our diet and are not consumed at the right time or for the right purpose. After a workout simple carbohydrates aren’t as bad as they may initially seem, as they quickly replenish the body and shuttle the protein you ingested from your shake into the muscles to start the recovery process. On the other hand, complex carbohydrates are slowly absorbed into the bloodstream to provide and maintain energy over a long period of time. Foods like fruits, oats, quinoa, whole grains, brown rice and sweet potatoes are all complex carbs and are perfect for a pre workout meal eaten approximately 2 hours before workout time.

The last Macronutrient is Fats. Fats act as our body’s backup source of energy when carbs are not readily available. Good fats are further categorized into monounsaturated and saturated fats. These are the “good fat” found in foods like olive oil, avocados, some nuts, coconut oil, avocado oil, red meats, eggs, ghee. Trans fats are the “bad fats” and are found in processed, fried foods, and fast food. It may be obvious, but these are not good for you and should not be eaten by athletes or the general population alike! Polyunsaturated fats should also be minimized as a few studies have come out on how bad they potentially could be for your body. 

How much of each should I have? 

This will be determined by how active you are, but a general guideline is to have between .6 and .8 times your bodyweight in grams per day for protein, 1-2 times your bodyweight in grams per day for carbohydrates and between .4 and .8 times your bodyweight in grams for fat. Again all of these are just guidelines. If you are looking for a more in depth personal plan reach out to me and we will build you one for your personal goals!

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