Author: K.C.

The Will to Prepare
22 May
2020
  • May 22, 2020

The Will to Prepare

Legendary basketball coach, Bobby Knight, is quoted as saying, “The key is not the will to win…..everyone has that.  It is the will to prepare to win that is important.”  I thought of this quote as Brooks Koepka answered Scott Van Pelt’s question as to how he has been able to perform so well in major championships.  Brooks responded by saying that it was all in his preparation. 

Many players look at performance in a very narrow sighted way, not fully appreciating everything that goes into performing at peak levels.  The best athletes in the world set their sights on a few key events and look to peak for those weeks.  In golf, this can mean adjusting workouts, sleep cycles, nutritional intake, forms and times of practice, playing habits, equipment, and of course mindfulness work to reach optimum focus levels for those all important events. 

So how would someone go about creating a plan to peak weeks or months ahead of an event?   First, a true assessment of where the game is currently is essential.  From this, a plan to improve in the key areas from a fundamental perspective as well as an execution or result perspective can be put into motion.  Working towards sound fundamentals that may take a little time to show up in the early weeks then gradually transitioning to more result based practice to see how the improved motion holds up is a key step.  Putting it to the test in practice with clear intentions and full engagement to learn from mistakes is also important. 

Take the time to think about which events you want to peak for, and then get started on your plan to get there.

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Ethan Allen Preparatory, Ridgefield CT
22 May
2020
  • May 22, 2020

The Hidden Gem of Quarantine –
Scavenger Hunts!

Running out of ideas to keep student athletes occupied at home that don’t involve adding screen time?

Consider mixing it up with a scavenger hunt! Scavenger hunts have many benefits for student athletes, in that they require activation of the body and mind. By working on puzzles, your child can build upon his or her problem solving skills and learn in an interactive way that increases retention and memory. Sending them on a quest is also exciting and involves running around the house or neighborhood to get their heart rates pumping. The best part is that they will be building their skills and learning while having a blast.

Ethan Allen Prep recommends using this website, treasure.run. It does all of the work for you, so your family can stay actively engaged while having fun with their learning.

 

Quarantine Scavenger Hunt

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Spatial Awareness
22 May
2020
  • May 22, 2020

Spatial Awareness Starts in the Gym

One of the benefits of consistently dedicating yourself to improving your physical performance is the body awareness you earn through testing your nervous system every time you work out. The body is an amazing tool, and will adapt to the environments it finds itself. We have all experienced this in one way or another over the past few months during society’s adapting to the guidelines enforced from COVID-19 pandemic. In the world of sports performance, developing a high level of proprioception will certainly improve your ability to engrain a new movement pattern in your golf swing and it all starts in the gym.

An example of an exercise we use to help improve body awareness and coordination is Lateral High Knees through the Agility Ladder with a Ball Toss.  The athlete must first master the ability to move side to side while bringing their knees to hip level and landing each foot in each square of the ladder accurately. We begin coaching this exercise by slowing it down and allowing the athlete to look where they place their feet. The next progression picks up the pace, but will still allow the athlete to see and anticipate where their feet are going to land. The eventual goal is to keep your eyes up, while knowing where your feet are going to land from reps and reps of practice. Adding the element and variability of tossing a tennis ball to the athlete as they make their way down the ladder takes it one step further and forces the athlete to have their attention on the ball while maintaining an awareness on the ladder.

The progression of golf skill happens much the same way. Once proper mechanics can be achieved the athlete must commit to them in slow motion, engraining the correct movement pattern without a result connected to it. Slowly adding speed to the movement will test whether it has been “saved” in the athlete’s hard drive, with the ultimate goal of being able to execute it naturally without much technical thought. Along the way the athlete would want to bring the newly learned pattern to a round of golf that may not have any more on the line than a few penalty strokes. If it can become trusted and consistently repeated in this low pressure environment, it is time to put it to the test in competition.

This process is critical to achieving a new motor pattern and mastering a new technique in the golf swing. If a step is skipped the process will not be successful and the risk of losing the changes being made is high. When considering learning a new movement pattern, “connecting the dots neurologically” is also a critical component and will be done more efficiently with the right efforts put forth in the gym.

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Wall Street Journal Logo
16 May
2020
  • May 16, 2020

To Keep Fit for Golf, He Gives His
Dogs a Lift

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The Golf Performance Center Ridgefield, CT
15 May
2020
  • May 15, 2020

Keeping the Roof Up!

Recently, I wrote about doing whatever it takes to become a champion, but I am not sure you really understand this sentiment.  I am not saying to go out and cheat, lie or steal.   I am saying that when you are talking about achieving an audacious goal like being a top 1% athlete (playing college golf means you are striving to be in this percentile), you will need to do more than give a little effort.  This is not just effort on the golf course; this is also giving effort in all aspects of your life.  Because this is not a singular pursuit. It is even more demanding than just trying to play golf.  You must be on top of academic work, physical and nutritional health, mental training, social obligations to friends and family, golf practices, golf matches, traveling, and recovery.  It is a sum game and if it doesn’t add up, your performances will fail in one or more of the areas and that could bring the roof down on achievement. 

It takes a large amount of work and accountability in the process of achievement; it is why 20+ years ago I created the 5 Elements of Success.  It was a way for me to help manage and create a system that allows me to keep myself accountable to the areas that are necessary to achieve my goals.  As you may have heard recently on our new Youtube show, the 5 Elements of Success Player Development Series, we talk about “grit” a lot.  Besides grit, I talk also about passion, perseverance, persistence and patience, or growth mindset, because these are all essential when it comes to high achievement.  What am I saying? I am saying that for parents and junior student-athletes, by only saying I want something or just being able to afford the journey is not going to get you what you want!  You must take actions on your desire to improve or achieving your goals.  I am saying that because golf at the highest levels “seems” to be easy, it is not! It is extremely difficult to play high level competitive golf and not have to sacrifice something that you may like to do.   Say like, have a “normal” high school experience!  If you look at the best of the best in any sport or walk of life, they did not have a “normal” high school experience.  Instead, many had an alternative path. Perhaps they struggled in school, but found their greatness in sports, music or the sciences.  Bill Gates found his greatness in computers and would lock himself away in his room or a room in his school that had a computer for hours and even sometimes overnight!  He and future co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen, would instead of taking a summer vacation, spend their summers programming for their towns engineering department.  They would work many days in a row just programming, hacking away, failing programs and restarting all the time until they got it right.  It was obsessive but it was what they wanted to do. Normal? Only normal for someone who loves what they are doing, striving for mastery, spending countless hours honing skills, with purposeful efforts to achieve!  Gates has said he remembers many of those hack sessions as hard but never regretted a moment of the painful hours in the “lab.” He remembers how other kids said they wanted to do what he and Paul were doing, but they weren’t willing to put in the time to learn.

So, you want to play college golf, and it has to be at one of the best schools in the nation.  What would be my advice be to you?  Start early in your journey on developing your “why.” If you come up with the answers, because I love the game, I love the school, I love the challenge golf gives me and I want my journey to have both a good school and golf experience on it.  If this is the case for you, you must give more effort to the process than you think.  It is a high bar and getting higher.  Start with why, work on the process of developing skills (talent x effort= skills), and work hard on converting skills into achievement of excellence (skills x effort=achievement)! Check out the JuniorGolfHub.com and the many resources for discovering a school that may fit you, build a great profile, and then get after it!  Be obsessive with your pursuit of your excellence, make sure your “roof” is built with the 5 Elements of Success! 

Enjoy Your Journey!

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Ethan Allen Preparatory, Ridgefield CT
15 May
2020
  • May 15, 2020

Know What To Do When You
Don’t Know What To Do

More vividly than ever before, we are reminded of this age old obstacle that we face at various times throughout our lives. If you are like me, in your fifties that is, then you have undoubtedly had to figure out a way around, over, under or through this obstacle several times in your life. However, none of us and especially not our children, have faced anything akin to what we are in the middle of right now.  With each day that working, teaching, and learning take place in our homes, the obstacle in front of us seems to grow ever more daunting. 

Recently, I put together a list that has helped navigate this time with less stress and greater happiness.  I believe it translates well to all ages and could be a useful “guide” for us parents. 

1. Focus on the goal– What is your goal for the day, the week or the month? Don’t let what isn’t going wrong in this very moment throw you off the path of achieving your goal. Make your goals impactful yet attainable.

2. Stay true to your values- This is not the time to question your self-worth or your inherent sense of what is right and good for you and your loved ones. At the end of each day, be proud of who you are.

3. Do something– This is not the time for big ideas that will only be stifled by social distancing orders or limited access to resources.  Paint a room, fix the leaky faucet, teach your child a new skill or do anything that has a rewarding outcome.

4. Get feedback– This is definitely not the time to isolate yourself from input.  Almost everything you did prior to March 2020, you are now doing differently.  Don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues, your children or your spouse- How am I doing? What am I doing well? In what areas can I be better?

5. Believe in yourself– Trust your instincts.  You have navigated this time successfully thus far so you must be making good decisions.  Your kids, who most likely don’t have the skills to navigate this time as well as you can, have also handled these past two months well and should be reminded of that. They, too, deserve to believe in themselves.

6. Think it through– In the current situation, impulsivity can have exaggerated effects.  We are continuously questioning when it will end and how it will impact me or my family’s future so taking uncalculated risks can be a bigger set back than usual.

Knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do is difficult.  Limiting its potential to create a downward spiral of negativity by adopting a set of “guidelines” or “rules” for yourself and/or loved ones may help you get around, over, under or through your obstacle. Stay healthy and happy.

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Further is Always Better, Right?
15 May
2020
  • May 15, 2020

Further is Always Better, Right?

With the length of golf courses steadily increasing over the last twenty years, most golfers are desperately searching for that extra 10 or 15 yards off the tee and will try almost anything to find it. Equipment companies have taken note and know exactly how to exploit the current state of the game.  Nearly every driver on the market is touting gains in club head speed and distance, lighter and longer shafts and premium golf balls are flying off the shelves. But, is longer always better?  In a word, no.  Just because a driver gives you the most potential distance doesn’t necessarily mean it is the best option for your golf game.  Sometimes, that potential distance comes with a cost, and it is usually accuracy and consistency off the tee.  For example, a forty-six inch driver may have a home-run ball sleeping in its arsenal, but could also be tougher to hit the sweet spot and consequently the fairway, a forty-five-inch driver could produce a more reliable, predictable ball flight, but might not have the home-run potential or the volatility of the forty-six inch driver.  Besides the psychological impact the forty-six inch driver can have on your game, there is also hard data from the PGA Tour to show you why accuracy and consistency still matter, even in today’s game.  On the PGA Tour the proximity to the hole from the fairway from 150-175 yards is twenty-seven feet, the proximity to the hole from the rough from 100-125 yards is thirty feet, what does this mean? It means that PGA Tour Players are hitting it closer from  150-175 yards in the fairway than 100-125 yards in the rough! You cannot win the hole with a drive, but you most certainly can lose it and sometimes chasing that home-run ball can actually hurt your chances instead of helping them!

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The Long Bunker Shot
15 May
2020
  • May 15, 2020

The Long Bunker Shot

It has long been said that the long bunker shot is one of the hardest shots in golf.  Many of us have experienced this to be true and struggled to find answers to this challenge.  As with any skill in this game or in life there is a certain amount of time or reps required to become proficient, and the long bunker shot is no different. So the question is how often to you practice long bunker shots?  I am sure many of you are saying ‘almost never.’

With the understanding that you will need to actually practice to improve let’s look at ways that you can approach that practice to make it more beneficial.  A great way to start any type of bunker practice session is to start with long bunker shots as it forces you to create some clubhead speed and let go of the fear of sculling the ball over the green.  Without question, you will hit some of those but without sufficient speed you won’t really have a chance of hitting quality bunker shots. 

Experimenting with your pitching wedge and even 8 or 9 iron for bunker shots over 30 yards is another great way to discover your best option on those long bunker shots.  Try picturing the ball flying to the hole and stopping and see if you can figure out a way to do that with any one your 5 or 6 most lofted clubs.  As always, pay attention to the divots you are taking in the sand as they will give you clues as to how to adjust your technique.

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Take a Walk
15 May
2020
  • May 15, 2020

Take a Walk!

Many of us have been a bit more limited from participating in some of our normal activities throughout the week as a result of the stay at home order we are still under. It has been uplifting how simply taking a walk can refresh you mentally as much as physically these days! If you’ve done this recently I’m sure you can attest to feeling more rejuvenated, after stopping to smell the proverbial roses.

Humans are meant to move, explore, and use our bodies as our strongest tool. Couch potato is not in our DNA, whether we like it or not, and sitting down as much as we do does nothing but breed underdeveloped, weak, asymmetrical bodies. I am not only talking to the adults with jobs that have them at a desk all day, I am also talking to the 10-year old’s that aren’t out building forts and riding bikes, playing capture the flag, and having water balloon fights, but rather sitting on their rear ends playing video games until their thumbs go numb.

I understand that may seem a little harsh (especially in the COVID world we are all trying to manage), but it’s the truth and we need to hear it! There is no better time than now to get outside, get active, and change up your routine a little. We, as a society, have our priorities all wrong when sitting is where we find ourselves most. Take a walk around your neighborhood tonight. Walk with a purpose. I am confident you will feel more alert as a result (it can also help you clear your mind!)

Golf courses are open and packed with play as the weather gets nicer, and a blessing in disguise is that many are not allowing carts. It is my hope that this is helping more people realize the benefits they are getting from walking the golf course. I realize some tracks are a bit more of a test than others, but look at it as a challenge! It would be great to see less of a reliance on carts even after they start to allow them back on the course. Give close attention to how you feel and how you perform when you walk instead of ride. Do you find yourself getting into a better rhythm by avoiding the stop/start, stop/start nature of the golf cart? Is your heart rate slightly elevated and the legs feeling warm? These are all good things! Remember, golfers are athletes!

In conclusion, if you want your body to take care of you, you need to take care of your body. Carrying your clubs on the course is a great start, and simply going for a walk will help you hit the reset button. Enjoy!

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