01 Aug Improve Your Game
I have had the opportunity during my career to work with top PGA Tour professionals, Major champions, LPGA tour winners, Major League Baseball All Stars, the dedicated amateur athlete, and beginner level golfer who just wants to get better. I recognize the talent levels are vastly different between the professional athlete and every day individual though they do have many similarities in common. These commonalities are both mental and physical.
Generally speaking the professional athlete has the basic goals of competing at a high level each and every day, stay injury free, collectively improve their performance week in and week out, and compete in their sport of choice for as long as possible. These goals are not very different than the recreational or amateur athlete.
Most individuals who participate in sports have similar goals. These individuals want to play well during their round of golf or tennis match. They don’t want to get hurt while playing or have an injury derail their participation. These individuals collectively want to improve and that is why the majority of recreational athletes take some sort of instructional lessons for their game. Finally, I feel everyone wants to play sports for as long as possible.
Recognizing the goals of the recreational and professional athlete are similar, we can turn our attention to how all individuals can train to improve their game. I know the time and resources available to professional and recreational athlete are different, regardless of this fact, the recreational athlete can take steps to improve. As stated above most every participant in a sport is involved in some type of instruction from a coach. If you are not working with a qualified tennis coach, swing instructor, etc. and are a recreational athlete this needs to be done if you want to get better. First and foremost find a qualified instructor to oversee the development of your game.
Secondly, outside of instruction the recreational athlete must recognize execution of any athletic activity incorporates your body. Your muscles, nerves, brain, and interaction of these components is what executes a golf swing, tennis serve, or judo throw. And in order to execute these athletic actions effectively, improve within a sport, not get injured, and play for as long as you can energy must be spent on the body.
In the most basic of structures, executing athletic actions requires certain levels of joint mobility, muscular flexibility, strength, and power. If your body does not have a foundation developed in these aforementioned physical components your ability as a recreational athlete to stay injury free, get better at your sport, and play for as long as you want will be hindered. Bottom line is just taking golf or tennis lessons creates improvement up to the point your body allows it. Eventually there will be a plateau in your development which will not be overcome without addressing the body.
Let us take a look at a golf swing example. Most golf instructors utilize video and drills to improve their student’s golf swing. Now if one of your goals as a student is to improve the “turn” in your backswing there is invariably a physical component to this swing mechanic. The only way you will improve your “turn” is if your hips and upper torso have the flexibility and mobility to rotate the number of degrees your instructor would like to see on video. If your body can’t turn, you will have no chance to improve your golf swing.
This is a simple golf swing example for the recreational athlete though this concept moves across all sports in terms of improvement. And this holds true for the professional and recreational athlete in that developing the body around the requirements of your sport is necessary.
Secondly, recognize longevity and staying injury free are based upon the physical preparation of the body. Execution of athletic actions place stress upon the body. In order for the body to execution athletic actions efficiently, over an extended period of time, and on a consistent basis again requires a physical foundation. Again, if your body is inflexible, weak, and immobile executing athletic actions will be difficult in addition to placing high levels of stress on the body. Over time these stresses in the body will result in injury and decrease the longevity of participation.
Another golf swing example would be the lower back injury. The golf swing requires the ability of the body to rotate around an imaginary axis during the backswing. In order to achieve this athletic action efficiently the hips and upper torso of the golfer must be flexible. If the hips or upper torso are not flexible, the golfer will more times than not recruit the lower back to create rotation. Now if you know anything about the anatomy the lower back is not a segment intended to rotate a large number of degrees. If you as an athlete continually ask a part of the body to do something it should not be doing, eventually it will become injured. This injury results in an inability to compete and decreases the longevity of your career. So again, developing the physical foundation for your sport is critical.
The final question is how does the amateur or recreational athlete go about achieving these goals?
It is a process of seeking out a qualified strength and conditioning or fitness coach to assist you. This can be in the form of personal training or remotely via education materials which you as an athlete can utilized on your own. Regardless of how you choose to receive the information, the final step in the process is you committing time and energy to this aspect of your sport.
As we can see from the information above the professional and recreational athlete have many concepts and components in common. And I strongly suggest the recreational athlete follow the blue print of what the pros to do in order to enjoy their athletic endeavors.