From Weekend Warrior to Weaponized

So you finally decided to get off that couch and do something good for yourself, laziness was starting to bore you.  You set off with good intentions after being notably sedentary for a few years, and sign up with a gym, buy some home equipment, or perhaps become a weekend warrior by joining a team.  Four to six weeks later, you are back on the couch with a hurt back, foot, or knee, discouraged and out of commission.  What happened?

Most of us don’t realize just how out of shape we get, and how much time it takes to get back in shape.  We set out to pour it on one Saturday a week on the basketball court or soccer field, or at the gym doing too much of the wrong stuff.  It’s as if we think we can make up for our bad habits quicker, and get back in shape sooner, if we push ourselves further to do more in a short amount of time – wrong!

How about being a real warrior, one who consistently prepares for what they may be faced with in life, readying themselves to be called upon to act and do.  We can weaponize our bodies, making ourselves more immune to outside forces, and ready for what life may throw at us.  Attention to the process will be your friend, not an all or nothing, breakneck pace of movement that puts you in twisted and contorted positions, demanding too much of a weak  and misaligned body.  The more out of shape you’ve allowed yourself to become, the more out of touch with your body you’ve also become.  Slow and steady the first 3 to 4 months will be the key for you, so you don’t push it too hard for your body’s condition.

Through gradual and sustained strengthening and sharpening, we fine tune ourselves to be less vulnerable in the world.  You don’t want to be reliant on our questionable medical system that only masks and treats problems with mechanized wheel chairs or prescription pill popping.  People think it is easier to slough off and not work out, however it is only easier at the moment, for it will make things more difficult in time.  People who keep in shape do so because they don’t relish pain, discomfort, or a lack of body control; they choose the easy way out.  Working out, together with good eating habits, will be easier in the long run, making your life much less limiting, painful, and oppressive.

During the first few months of getting more active, make sure you monitor yourself to do less than you think you’re capable of, and do the activity or exercises more deliberately and slower than you think you should.  The more out of shape we get, the more bundled, less differentiated, and turned off our muscles become.  It takes time for our bodies to turn them back on, and prepare them for use again.  All that time you allowed yourself to get slumped and plump, or fragile and weak, has taken its toll.

If you sit a good part of your day, you can start by standing more.  Perhaps at work you stand while talking on the phone, or at home while watching TV you stand for 30 minutes of a program, maybe even doing a little marching in place.  Another good starting point is to focus on posture and form while walking, and consciously engage your muscles while doing so.

It’s all about starting very slowly, realizing how much time it takes for your body to warm up, and focusing on trying to regain some awareness of body positioning, movements, and coordination.  It will take a couple months just to reawaken your neuromuscular system, and a few months after that to regain some musculoskeletal integrity.  One must relearn how to crawl and walk before they can even think of running or jumping.  Build the structure from which to proceed for the rest of your life.

Next week I’ll get into the specifics of actual programs at different levels to get you started on your empowering, lifelong journey.

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3 MAIN MISTAKES OF NOVICE GOLFERS

1.  MISTAKE:  Scooping Under Ball

All inexperienced golfers incorrectly try to help get the golf ball into the air.  They attempt to get underneath the ball and put loft on their shot.  In doing so they keep their weight on their right foot at point of impact, leading to poorly struck shots.

REMEDY:  Hit Down on Ball

Trust the loft of the club to get your ball in the air.  Transfer your weight to your left side on the downswing, and hit down and through the ball.  Hitting down on the ball actually makes it go in the air, creating a solid, crisp shot that goes much further.

 

2.  MISTAKE:  Left Hand Grip Is Too Weak

Most beginner golfers put their left hand too far underneath the golf club rather than on top of it.  They incorrectly put the club across the palm of their left hand and then grip it.  In doing so they can only see about one knuckle of their left hand, and their left arm is soft and bent.

REMEDY:  Back of Left Hand Pointing Up

Start by putting the club across the fingers of left hand, and then wrap hand around to take grip.  Crank left elbow in toward belly button so that left arm is firm, rigid and straight.  With the back of the palm pointing more up toward the sky, you should be able to see two or three knuckles.

3.  MISTAKE:  Arms Take Club Back

Most people new to the game of golf solely use their arms to take the club back.  They snatch it back with their hands and become disconnected from the body immediately.

REMEDY:  Use Your Core to Take Club Back

Engage your stomach muscles at address by tightening/flexing them.  Start turning your belly before the arms move, letting the torso turn be the reason your club goes back.  Feel as though the belly button and the top end of the club are intertwined, club extending on up into the belly button.  Maintain this positioning with the hands staying in front of your belly button, rather than going back behind it.

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NO SMOOTH SAILING FAÇADE FOR ADAM SCOTT

I’m sure most would agree that often things are not what they seem to be.  We think we’re going to get a raise at work, and we get fired.  We think someone is going to propose to us, and they leave.  We think someone is a friend, and then find out they have said bad things about us.  Or we think the family next door is normal, until one of them goes on a ballistic shooting rampage.

The same is true in our pursuit of athletic endeavors, in that what you see at high levels of proficiency is different than what is happening at the molecular level.  Take Davis Love at the 1993 Ryder Cup in Belfry, England, where coming down the 18th hole he felt as though he was literally going to puke his guts out.  Somehow, he held it in, and remained composed through sheer will power, and didn’t let his nerves show on the way to clinching a victory for the U.S.

Then there’s what Michael Phelps was going through when his goggles filled with water in Beijing, and he won the gold.  We couldn’t see that his field of vision was totally obscured and that he had to gauge the distance to the wall by feel, trusting his trained instinct.  But that’s what was going on under the water, in his world thrown asunder.

Or how about Serena Williams, who after coming back to tennis competition a couple years ago, after all she had been through with depression and a blood clot almost taking her life, was being written off as washed up.  They thought she should retire, but she didn’t listen.  She still believed in herself as she fought and grinded it out internally, on her way to winning both Wimbledon and gold at the Olympics this summer.

And finally, as golf fans we got spoiled by all those winning years of Tiger Woods, seeming to coast in smoothly to victory at many majors.  What we didn’t realize is that Tiger put his own expectations on himself, and didn’t listen to ours.  Although we may think he had the tournament won after 3 days and a 4 stroke lead, he knew he had a lot of work ahead of him.  He didn’t think he had it won, or take it for granted, he knew it would be hard those last 9 holes and he was steely, determined, and ready for whatever may be thrown at him.

This all leads me to Adam Scott, who had a 4 stroke lead going into this year’s British Open at Royal Lytham and St. Annes Golf Club, but couldn’t hold on.  Perhaps he listened to, or fell into, what all the sportscasters and newspapers were implying, that he’s the best player not to have won a major and it was his to lose.  If you think the win should already be yours, there is only one way to go from there. adam-scott

Adam was not armed and ready for his larynx to be stuck in his throat, to feel a lack of oxygen, and to have a highly escalated heartbeat.  These feelings are inevitable when leading down the stretch of a major, an Olympic race, or a Wimbledon final.  You need to know these uncomfortable feelings, expect the unexpected, and do whatever you can to keep going and stay focused.

It helped Tiger down the stretch in tournaments, that his Dad had angered him as a kid by rattling keys and talking loudly while he was teeing off at junior tournaments.  Tiger never knew what to expect from him, or when disruption would happen, so he had to learn how to deal with those unsettling feelings.  Likewise, Phelps’ coach of 16 years, Bob Bowman, trained him for just such a mishap that happened in Beijing.  There were times when he either hid or intentionally cracked Michael’s goggles right before a meet, or had the driver pick Phelps up late the night before a meet so he’d miss dinner.  During an interview, Bowman admitted to messing with Michael so as to make him, “familiar with chaos”; because as he knows, nothing ever goes as planned.

It appears easy when athletes pull out victories, when businessmen are successful, or when a school teacher wins an award, but it isn’t.  They have all had their failures, difficulties, and doubts to contend with.  Many times in life we can’t count on smooth sailing, no matter how much planning or work we have put in.  Sometimes we’ve just got to pull through in an unconventional or unexpected way, getting something done however possible.

So the next time someone makes something seem easy, or when you think someone has it easy, realize that is the façade that masks the determination, perseverance, and tough inner will that they have developed to deal with what has been thrown at them.  Smooth sailing is just a fictional term in a fantasy world.

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The Connected Body Swing – July 2012 Golf Tip by Christy Erb

MAINTAIN SAME RELATIONSHIP OF CLUB TO BELLY BUTTON:

To do this, visualize a pane of glass that extends from your belly button to the ball.  Grip the pane of glass with your hands flat against it on each side.  Swing the pane of glass back and through, keeping hands pressing against glass, keeping it on your belly button and in line with your sternum.  Your hands will ride up the pane of glass on backswing and again in your follow through, but never come off the glass.  In doing this you override the temptation to slap at or hit at the ball, and rather swing through with the club as an extension of your body turn.

—  Teaches you to use the big muscles rather than the erratic, smaller hand and arm muscles  —

Now don’t forget to get out and practice!

Your Golf Mentor..

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KNOW THE ENEMY

“I think I’ve got it now” is what I hear my students say on occasion.  When I hear this I think, ‘Oh no’, as I realize there is much golf pain in their near future.  I try to help them avoid this upcoming frustration on the golf course with their misplaced expectations, telling them to remain strong when it gets tough out there and to expect bad shots, so on and so forth.  However, my pleas fall on deaf ears as they are soothed inside ‘knowing’ their efforts in golf are about to be vindicated, and all will fall into place at their next golf outing.

Unfortunately, wanting something that is not in line with truth or its nature, leads to frustration.  Being lulled into complacency is why I don’t bet on the person on the range who is hitting the ball great before a tournament, for there is only one way for their hitting to go from there – and it will.  It’s not the poor shots that will ruin their game, it is their ill-prepared reactions of incredulous disbelief when the poor shots do arrive.

To side step these emotional land mines that lead to higher scores, I think one should view playing golf as a “War”: ‘You’ vs. ‘Golf’.  You should strive to garner knowledge of your enemy, and to understand their tactics and strategy.  If one wants to wear down the opposition, one must know and understand them.

Dominance and greatness in golf are not what you think they are.  Proficiency in golf doesn’t mean eloquence and delivering spot on moves of 9s and 10s.  In gymnastics and bowling, and even once in blue moon in baseball, perfection can be achieved – but that doesn’t exist in golf in any sense of the word.  To know golf is to know it can’t be defeated, but only understood and contained.  To understand golf is to realize its unpredictability, its endless challenges, the dozens upon dozens of moves in the golf swing that all need to sync up at the same time, the irregular golf course surfaces, the size of the ball compared with the size and speed of the club hitting it, and the demanding concentration and precision involved for over four hours of play.  If one doesn’t know the enemy, one will be fooled and beaten into submission over and over.

Golf will throw many bad shots at you, trying to knock you off balance and break your will, usually with much success.   On occasion, Golf will change its plan from outward assault to quiet deception, sedating the player into unready, laziness of mind.  In this quiet deception, Golf’s strategy is summed up in one of Sun Tzu’s statements about war, “Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment — that which they cannot anticipate.”  And it is this form of trickery that Golf continually bestows, without fail, on its unwitting players, beating them down to the nub, and sometimes making them want to chuck their clubs into the nearest lake.

In this trickery, Golf gives their opponent a small taste of the delicious cake, a glimpse into how good it could be, with no intention of ever giving up the whole cake, or rarely even ever a piece of it.  In occasionally offering bites of the sweet treat to appease our appetites, it keeps us interested, addicted, and coming back.  It knows that with temptation comes weakness, so it whets our desire for more of the unimportant yet gratifying stuff, yet all the while protecting its true strength and well-being.  It knows that after the bites are quickly devoured and forgotten, we start looking for the next bites like rabid dogs.  The desperate search then goes on, endlessly seeking that which is only available in rare scraps.

When one stops searching for the titillating scraps of gratification, they can then focus on scoring, the point of golf.  What we need to realize, is that as long as we are looking for that great feeling shot like we hit on the range 3 days ago, we are not in the shooting low frame of mind, which is the ultimate goal of playing golf.  Golf will allow you to occasionally lob a cannon ball into its outside fortress to give you some false satisfaction and appeasement, only to bludgeon you several moments later when you are in la la land, with the unseen sword to the abdomen.  Until you can learn to be ever-present in the shot at hand, getting the ball in the hole in any way possible, and focused on managing your bad shots to serve you, you won’t be able to protect and fortify your barricade from consistently stealthy assaults, and will go down every time.

Golf is a long war, a war of patience, a war of insight, a war where emotions don’t have a place.  Until you are ready to engage in that war each and every time you step on a golf course, you won’t be correctly prepared, and Golf will squash your will and defeat You.  So prepare for war when preparing to go play golf.  You don’t go into war expecting the enemy to make things easy for you and pave the way do you?  Do you go into war expecting things to go just as planned?  If so, that’s a sure way to lose.  One must be scrappy, resourceful, smart, and plan ahead for what is to come, yet continually be re-evaluating the situation.

Don’t do as the South did to lose the Battle of Gettysburg and turn the tide to the North’s favor in the Civil War.  In that battle, the South thought they could just keep attacking and that inevitably the North would crumble as it had in all the battles up to that point.  The Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point because the Army of Virginia under General Robert E. Lee mistakenly engaged in it against their own strategy, knowing they should avoid it.  All their decisions in that battle after that point had to ensue from a false position, a mistaken state of being where they shouldn’t have been coming from.  Being errant human beings we tend to be biased toward our own abilities, thinking things will go as we see, and that more is on our side as we are better, smarter, and stronger than the enemy.  It is good to be confident, but it must be confidence in that which we can affect and control, rather than wishful thinking.  Confidence must be patiently earned, tempered with reality, and most importantly entails respecting, knowing, and understanding what one is up against.  Don’t underestimate the enemy.

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New Beginnings

Most of us are scared of having new beginnings in our lives.  Sometimes we will do whatever we can to hang on to what we know.  Whether that’s sabotaging our promotion, ruining a relationship, or abusing our health, we are all attracted to a certain level of comfort and familiarity.  Most don’t truly relish change, even if it is change for the better.

I think the problem with change is that we get stuck focusing on what we are giving up, what we have grown accustomed to.  This phenomenon is very evident in my golf instruction, as many students are reluctant to make actual changes in their golf swing.  It’s not that they don’t want to improve and hit the ball better, it’s that they don’t want to feel awkward and inept, or lose the swing they already have.

To make true change entails an uncomfortable and unfamiliar transition period over time, as well as a trust that you will be fine wherever the change takes you.  When we move on we don’t lose what we have, it will always be a part of us, but it no longer serves our growing interests and situation.  Change means being uncomfortable and not being able to dictate or know where it will take us.  We need to stop trying to control change in our lives and let it take us where it will.  When we feel we need to be a certain way, do certain things, or have things be a specific way, we limit our inner growth and willingness to embark in new directions.

When we are changing our approach and starting to see things differently, it doesn’t mean we are going to like the differences right away, or that it is going to be wonderful and glorious.  True change comes subtly and unnoticed, because it is a work in progress day to day, a battle within ourselves.  Charles Darwin stated that it is ‘survival of the fittest’, but I believe it is ‘survival of the best adapted’.  Sometimes one may have too much ambition, talent, and success for their own good, i.e. Michael Jackson, without being able or willing to roll with life.  Or one may have too much courage, determination, and threshold for pain, i.e. Junior Seau, without having an ability or willingness to adapt to changing circumstances.

It is easy to get locked into perceptions about ourselves, letting them define us, and clinging onto them for dear life.  Had Junior reached out and let others know what he was going through, rather than continually needing to be the indestructible tough guy who saves the day, perhaps he could have found a way to deal with the physical and mental pain that led to his suicide.  Sometimes we have to work our whole lives to deal with or throw off false perceptions we have created about ourselves.  They may have been beneficial perceptions at a certain time in our lives, but they have not kept up with the times and needs of our changing situation.  To change is to give up old perceptions and to move on, knowing that it is okay because we still have ourselves.  We are not giving up our being, we are just giving up some external reality, a false internal belief, or some limited narrow thinking that no longer serves us well – realize that!

Take these new beginnings into your fitness, golf, and mental health.  Whether trying to improve your golf game, quit smoking, improve upon self-esteem, or get more physically fit, know that you are moving on from where you are, because you don’t want to be stuck being the same person today as you were 5 years ago.  Let go of identification with the past and move forward.  Let’s let these tragic deaths of Michael and Junior teach us about our own reluctance to change, and let’s learn to flow with the true nature of life.

When you come to the realization that not changing will bring you more pain in the long run, you are truly maturing and coming to some understanding of the real essence of life and yourself in it.  Don’t let others, or false perceptions of yourself, limit you and keep you trapped where you are, for life is a string of adjustments until the end.  Be ready for endlessly thrown curve balls,  to be perpetually knocked off balance, and know that you can continually adjust and re-find your center point over and over again.

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HOW YANI TSENG HITS THE BALL SO FAR

It is shocking how far the men on the PGA Tour hit the ball, however, pound for pound it is more amazing how far the women on the LPGA Tour hit the ball.  How is it that these women of ordinary size can deliver so much power to that little white orb?  If it came down to just strength, the average male golfer should be able to far out hit the women on Tour, but this is not the case.  Let’s take a look into how a woman like Yani Tseng, at 5′ 6″, with a slight build, can generate the kind of club head speed to hit drives of 290 yards on occasion, and to average 275 yards out on Tour.

If you take pure strength and size out of the equation, it seems to come down to three things.  Although these women are not big and muscle bound, they are flexible, have a lot of technique, and have some of that magical intangible factor.  If I had to designate importance by percentage, I’d break it down to flexibility – 15%, intangible/speed factor – 30%, and technique –55%.  Let’s look at which ones you can affect the most and what they are comprised of.

Flexibility entails stretching the shoulders, lats, hips, lower back, hamstrings, forearms, wrists, and hands.  The flexibility of these parts will dictate how big of a correct shoulder turn you can make using your big muscles, how much resistance your lower body can give the upper body in creating torque, and how much whip or release of club your forearms, wrists, and hands can accommodate.  This is something that you can affect quite a bit just by stretching for 15 minutes every day.  You should take advantage of this one thing you have quite a bit of control over.

The main physical move in the golf swing that the pros do, but amateurs do not do, relates to the separation of the upper and lower body, as mentioned above in ‘creating torque’.  The pros are flexible and posturally strong enough to turn their shoulders 90 to 110 degrees on their back swing and have their hips at only 30 to 45 degrees, whereas amateurs will turn their shoulders back 75 degrees and their hips 50 degrees because of lack of flexibility, incorrect posture, and lack of technique.  The more disparity between the two, the greater the power built up.

On the downswing the pros have fast enough hips to keep ahead of unwinding shoulders, and to keep the width in the arms.  This is akin to the discus throw, as the discus thrower’s body is going away from his target as he releases the disc.  He has taken out all slack, has as wide an arc as possible, and after winding up tightly, releases the wound up energy.

If you’ve seen a pro’s golf club in slow motion, you’ve seen it bowed on the downswing before it makes contact with the ball.  This bowing of the club is due to delaying the release of the club head, or keeping the club head back as long as possible.  As well as having correct upper and lower body dynamics, this delayed release is created by maintaining the wrist angle for a long time before allowing the club head to burst forward and turn over at just the right time.  In this way power and energy are loaded into the bowed shaft in order to transfer to the club head at moment of impact.  Most amateurs dissipate their energy too soon by releasing the hinged wrist angle too early and allowing the club head to get to the ball too soon, rather than leading with the handle and hands.

The technique factor is something you can affect to a moderate degree.  You will never have near the swing the pros have, however after ingraining some of the basic fundamentals and mechanics, you can learn the physics of the golf club in action, and how to use leverage, in order to deliver greater power to the ball.

Last but not least, the intangible speed factor is based on how much fast twitch muscle fiber you have in your body.  This can be changed a bit, but we are born with a certain amount of slow twitch and fast twitch fiber, and these stay basically the same.  This is why some people will always be faster runners or be able to hit the golf ball further.  You can develop more fast twitch fiber through exerting yourself in burst or explosive training though.  You can train in an anaerobically high intensity way by doing sprints, speed bag boxing, plyometrics (jumping), and fast movement weight training.  I’d say you can increase your amount of fast twitch muscle fiber by up to 35% if you really applied yourself.

So, go forward with a goal to get in better shape, to become a student of the golf swing and golf club dynamics in motion, and start taking salsa classes to some very fast Latin music!

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When Practice Becomes Fun

Many golfers look at hitting balls on the driving range as boring, mundane work that doesn’t even seem to help their golf game.  Well, they’re probably right about it not helping their golf game, as they are using their time and energy incorrectly.  However, boring and mundane it does not need to be, as their practice time can be engaging, interesting, and rewarding, if used in an appropriate and useful way.

Golfers aren’t going to improve while searching in vain for the answers to their bad shots, watching without having any idea why the ball did what it did.  Having limited knowledge of ‘cause and effect’ in the golf swing, leads to many wasted hours of frustration on the driving range.  For what we think we are doing, and what we are actually doing, are most always two very different things.

So why is it that perception and reality are so very different.  If you’ve played golf for any length of time, first of all you know that nothing about the golf swing is natural.  If it was just an athletic, ‘hand-eye coordination’ maneuver, then Charles Barkley would have a golf swing we could actually look at without wincing, and Michael Jordan would be able to break 85.

Golf is more art than game, and the golf swing is more of a craft than a sport; and these need to be taken into account when practicing.  The golf swing and game are a step by step building process of creation, like a sculpture in the works that you are chipping away at, or analogous to building a house from the ground up.  Sometimes we may get preoccupied with what color shades we want for the windows of our new house, before we’ve even poured the concrete foundation.  On the practice range, this is akin to becoming preoccupied with why our ball is going to the right before we’ve even learned how to grip the club, or how to position ourselves into a solid postural base from which to swing.

Don’t get ahead of yourself, as all amateurs do, trying to rush the pure and worthwhile endeavor of learning to swing the golf club.  Instead, sit back and enjoy the difficulty and beauty of it developing along the way.  We only value that which we truly cherish, so treat your golf swing and game in that way, giving them respect and patient attention.  Practice doesn’t have to be so frustrating and difficult, but can be simpler if focused on the most fundamentally important principles that you need at the time, rather than focused on your bad golf shot.

When a golfer begins to learn and understand the mechanical happenings in a golf swing that produce a certain shot, their practice takes on new meaning and productivity.  When, and if, a golfer ever learns to notice things such as rhythm, balance, and being centered while practicing, the effectiveness of their time spent will be multiplied.  Eighty percent of golfers on the driving range don’t know what to work on or how to practice, and have no idea what is wrong with their swing.  Getting to the crux of the matter entails patient and devoted, insight and study, into the real reasons for your club head action.  Intelligent attention is really the only way to have a more productive and fulfilling time on the range, so become a student of the game, ready for many new beginnings!

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A GOLFER’S PERFECTIONIST MISCONCEPTION

When new people come to golf, they often come to it with a conquering attitude, unfortunately.  They see the pros playing on TV, making it look easy, hitting it long and straight, and they decide that is something they want to do.  It doesn’t look like a lot of exertion, like say tennis or basketball, but it is captivating and alluring how far that ball flies.  They think that’s cool, like a video game or something, so they set out to go whack that ball way out there.

angry-golfer When people go into golf in this way, they don’t appreciate and value the game, and all that it has to offer.  They treat golf like they treat other things in their life, with a lack of understanding and respect, and as dispensable.  We trash our houses, cars, bodies, and minds while not adequately revering them, thinking we can just buy fun, entertainment, and well-being, not investing the time and energy to get involved and give our attention and care to things anymore.  We forget to realize that we only get out of life what we put in, and that if we just try to keep using and taking, it leads to much unhappiness.

And so this brings me back to golf, where this manifests before my eyes every week on the golf course where I teach.  I see people out there hurrying, flailing away, and desperate to hit good shots as they struggle in vain to dominate the golf ball, eliminate the unpredictability of the game, and occasionally want to quit because they can’t come close to controlling where their ball goes.  They have an ill-equipped and undisciplined mindset, that in its irresponsibility is leading to unnecessary frustration and anger, isn’t helping them get better, and isn’t allowing them to grow in the game.

Without writing a whole dissertation on this intensive subject, here are a few things to keep in mind as you go on in your journey in golf:

1)      Continually Judging Your Golf Shots is Unproductive – When our emotions and inner well-being are based on shot-by-shot evaluations, it means we are much too results-oriented rather than process oriented.  We forget that the good, rewarding results of the golf shot, are the dessert we get once in a while from insightful effort and time applied, they are not the norm.  The norm is the continual learning process of understanding and working through our bad shots, learning our errant swing tendencies, and rehearsing the fundamentals over and over.

2)      Most Golfers’ Expectations Are Incorrect – You can have high expectations, as long as those expectations are valid, and you have tolerance of your human limitations.  We view anything less than meeting our expectations as failure or a setback, when perhaps our expectations are short-sighted and an unrealistic pipe dream.  Making correct expectations means putting expectations on the things you have some control over, like where your attention, thoughts, and energy will be directed.  If they are usually directed outwardly at the results of your shot, you will have much frustration and discontent on the range; whereas those expectations directed at your actions are realistic, smart, and attainable as they lead to growth, progress, and better scores.  There are certain things that we have control over, i.e. the speed of our backswing, noticing our footwork, awareness of our grip pressure, etc.; and then there are other things that we do not have control over, such as where the ball is going to go — know the difference!!

3)      No Matter How Good You Get, You’re Still Going to Hit Lots of Bad Shots – This is something the tour pro has had to accept, yet the amateur golfer usually doesn’t understand.  After endless competition and hitting millions of golf balls for years and years from a young age to present, the tour player knows they will still hit many bad shots for the rest of their career.  If they want to get on tour or remain on tour, they know that what’s important is how they manage those bad shots, and themselves, on the golf course.

So with all this said, remain patient and calm within when hitting bad shots, as you notice, sense, and feel your tendencies, while holding your finish for at least 4 seconds after every shot – especially if you have flubbed or missed it.  Be a smart golfer please, don’t be another one of those hackers on the range who’s ego is hanging in the balance – the one who beats balls in a frenzy while they are spinning their wheels out there, giving us all wincing entertainment through their silly, frustrated, out-of-control behavior.  Be better to yourself than that, slow down, respect the process, and look to reality as your friend.

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RIGHT REASONS FOR WORKING OUT – Part 2: The Practical

Last week I wrote about abstract reasons for basketball working out, basically to create and sustain a good attitude and internal mental environment, readying us for the demands of life. This week I am writing about the physical and physiological reasons for exercise in our lives, those more tangible reasons.

Exercise can cure type 2 diabetes!  Wow, what an astounding statement, are you jumping up and down in excitement right now knowing it’s that easy to avoid one of the scourges of our day?  That statement alone should be more than enough to steer us all to greater activity in our lives.  You would think the known fact that exercise can help cure and prevent many problematic issues and diseases would be all we need to know to physically challenge our bodies, regardless of the difficulty perceived or felt in doing so.  However, this isn’t enough for some, as it doesn’t seem worthy and applicable to our present enjoyment, and the correlation is not made or felt.  So I will plead the point with ever more groveling and gratuitous pandering to our more impulsive and fast food culture side, trying to immediately satisfy the need for ‘readily apparent reward’ and instant gratification.

Okay, here goes:

Better Sleep:  We sleep better as our bodies are equally tired with our minds after some sustained level of activity.

Injury Prevention:  When our bodies are fit, we don’t get injured as often when changing the light bulb, cleaning the windows, or tying our shoes.

Healthy Nerve Function:  Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease progress via the loss of neurons, and exercise is one of the few ways scientists have found to generate new neurons and protect existing ones.

Look and Feel Better:  Your heart will be stronger, so you won’t be huffing, puffing and stopping to rest going up those stairs.  You will have more lean tissue, your muscles will be more toned, and your dating life will skyrocket to the top!

Rest for our Mind:  During intense exercise our minds are forced to shut down for a time, giving us a break from the endless impulsive thinking we engage in every day.

Toxin Reduction:  When exercising we sweat toxins out, as well as removing more through increased oxygen intake and better circulation of lymph fluid.

Structural Integrity:  Through inner postural, spinal and abdominal muscles strengthening, you will have better alignment and stacking of the joints, and therefore less joint injury and pain.

I have a neighbor who I’ve been friends with for almost 10 years, someone I really enjoy, admire, and look up to because of his consistent demeanor and vibrant, loving spirit.  Talk about going with the flow of life, he is that river that meanders to fit the terrain, and the tree that bends and bows to all weather.  Through noticing and watching him through the years, he has taught me that there is really no reason to get hyped up over things.  I have tried to emulate him the last few years, as I would love to be as even keel and easy going as he is.  It was fitting one day a few years ago  when he told me that working out for him released aggression, and that he can’t imagine what he would do with it all pent up if he didn’t work out.  I thought it quite interesting that while working out helped me with depression years back, the serotonin and norepinephrine increase lifting my mood, it helps him to positively express and utilize his unused, stored up energy, calming him in the process.  Perhaps we’d have a safer society, with less conflict and violence, and more happiness, if people got consistent activity in their life.

woman-jumping-water I hope I have proven my point for exercise in your life, doing it some justice.  Many of us take for granted our body’s abilities, our opportunities for activity, and the joy in movement.  Unfortunately, often one doesn’t realize what they have until they have lost it.  If you look after your body, it will serve you well, for a body in motion stays in motion.  Don’t diminish your body’s physical capabilities unnecessarily through neglect, for you may wish to get them back someday, only to realize you’ve done irreversible damage and have permanently limited your movement.  Who knows when you will be called upon by life to be the hero or to rescue someone; be ready and physically equipped for what life may ask of you or present you with.  As the ol’ saying goes, “Use it or lose it!”

 

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