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Golf: Playing to Your Potential Includes Positive Self Talk



A father and his children were hiking through a canyon. In the midst of the canyon the boy thought he heard something and yelled out, “Who’s there?”

His echo came back, “Who’s there?”

He yelled, “What’s your name?”

The echo came back, “What’s your name?”

Upset that the voice he heard was mocking him, the boy yelled, “Coward!”

Of course the echo came back, “Coward!”

Seeing his son’s frustration, the father yelled, “I love you!”

The echo came back, “I love you!”

Then he yelled, “You’re a champion!”

The echo came back, “You’re a champion!”

The father told his son, “Those are echoes, but they’re really what life is.”

If for one week I secretly recorded all the thoughts and words you said about yourself while you were golfing… practicing… taking a golf lesson… or recapping your rounds with friends… and then listened to it… what would I hear?

Would your thoughts sound like:

“What an idiot.”

                                            “How stupid.”

                                                                                     “I stink at this game.”

               “I’ll never get any better.”

                                              “Yup, just like I expected. There’s that slice again!”

As an instructor... I often hear these negative “secret recorded messages” from Golfers. Although... they're not so secret!

And I believe that what is said on the golf course, during practice, or during a golf lesson… especially in the midst of difficulties… will have a direct effect on how long a golfer will stay in them. These negative expressions will carry on to the next shot/putt/chip… and the next one… and the next one….

So what are you echoing to yourself? Echoes of encouragement? Support? Confidence?

Or…

Echoes of fear, anger, self-doubt, discouragement?

In the story above… the son “believed” the echoes were someone else shouting at him. But, be aware that the majority of negative feedback you hear might just be coming from… YOU!

During your lifetime, that voice inside your head (most of our echoes are internal) will speak to you more than any other voice. So why not say words of encouragement? The world may try to put you down… discourage you from pursuing your goals… ridicule you… perhaps even ask you, “Have you ever thought of taking up tennis?”

But maybe… just maybe… if you speak words of encouragement to yourself… the echo you’ll hear will speak encouraging words back. And you’ll start to believe them… regardless of what the world wants you to believe. Both on and off the golf course.

Check out this short one minute inspirational video:
 
Peace… Love… Golf!

Ted

Getting the Most out of Your Practice Sessions


This weekend… I took some time and observed Golfers on the practice range. Ugh! The majority of them just "whacked" at balls with no apparent purpose!

The putting green was no different! One Golfer dropped five balls and proceeded to "putt" them without ever looking at the hole or to pause long enough to see where the balls were going (I kid you not… oftentimes more than two balls were rolling at the same time!). This went on for about 15 minutes. Ugh Redux!!

Mindlessly hitting balls is NOT "Practice." I call it, "exercising." Specifically cardio training... lots of reps in a short amount of time.

Practicing is when you are actually solving problems. In other words.... you’re finding weaknesses and defects in your golf game caused by poor technique or form. You then set about fixing the problem(s) and work on improving your overall game.

To get the most out of your practice sessions, I'd like to share several practice ideas that I use with my children, Grayson and Madison Rose… both great golfers!

KEEP A JOURNAL
Both carry practice/lesson journals in their bags (as do I). They write down anything we've worked on or they've worked on. Anything! Could be a thought, feeling, drill, idea, quote, etc… Don't trust that you'll remember everything... but trust that paper never forgets!

CONSISTENT PRACTICE
Grayson and Madison Rose practice daily… not once a week. They practice about six days a week. The practice session duration each day varies according to other activities… but continuity is key to the continued development of their skills. In the excellent (must read!) book, The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills, by Daniel Coyle, he writes.

"With deep practice, small daily practice “snacks” are more effective than once-a-week practice binges. The reason has to do with the way our brains grow—incrementally, a little each day, even as we sleep. Daily practice, even for five minutes, nourishes this process, while more occasional practice forces your brain to play catch-up. Or, as the music-education pioneer Shinichi Suzuki puts it, “Practice on the days that you eat.”

Unfortunately too many Golfers try to "cram practice" right before a big event. That never works. I see this in my junior program. Attendance always goes up about a week or two before high school tryouts. But the juniors who make golf teams are the ones who work on their game consistently and have been with our program throughout the year… not a week before tryouts.

ONLY WORK ON ONE OR TWO THINGS PER SESSION
Both Grayson and Madison Rose practice only one or two things each session. That's it! For example… I recently worked with them on their putting. Grayson worked on drills for tempo and putter path. Madison Rose worked on drills for proper setup and light grip pressure. They both spent an hour and a half making putts that were no more than four feet long and used a chalk line for accuracy. That's it!


QUALITY… NOT QUANTITY
Grayson and Madison Rose use the most of their practice time by practicing with purpose. They/We decide what needs to be worked on and that becomes the focus of their practice session. This way they don't waste any time in their practice session and they don’t have to spend countless hours on the range (although at times they do). By being efficient and focused they become better golfers AND it frees them up to still have a life!! Remember... the purpose of practicing is to improve... not get bored, angry or defeated. Therefore, clarity and having a goal are keys to good practice. 

FEEDBACK 
Grayson and Madison are constantly asking me during their practice, "Like this?" or "How did that look?" or "Was that any better?" They are seeking feedback to make sure they're on the right track to improvement. Nothing worse then spending an intense practice session only to realize you've been practicing wrong. You need feedback. From a teacher. From a trusted KNOWLEDGEABLE friend. From your phone's camera/video. From a mirror. From what the ball is doing. Ultimately from your golf score! 

MAKE IT FUN!
Grayson and Madison Rose work very, very hard on their games. They push themselves to get better and are intense during practice. They do drills that require focused effort and hard work but they finish each practice/lesson session with some type of game, skill challenge, or a few holes of golf on the course. Oftentimes I compete with them and play for "dots," bragging rights, score, etc… Lots of "smack talk" goes on! The other day we had a chipping challenge and they both "drummed" me! Reward yourself with some type of fun activity after the hard work you’ve put in. After all… golf is a game… and games were meant to be fun!!



Peace… Love… Golf!

Ted


Video: Excellent Drill for Proper Golf Swing Impact

Ted Eleftheriou

When working with students on their golf swings... I often start with impact position... then work around it. I think this is a solid approach to becoming a better ball striker. Once good impact is established... many other swing components fall into place.

If you've been struggling with good impact position... chances are you won't be able to fix it while making a full swing. You'll need to break the swing down into a smaller swing that focuses around the area of impact... and then build the swing back up again.

A drill that I prescribe to my students regardless of playing ability (and one of my favorites), is a drill known as the "Float Load" drill.

Rather than go into a lot of written detail... I've included a short video at the end of this post of me performing the impact drill along with some notes. Do this drill a lot. As in A LOT!! The key to your success when performing the Float Load drill is in maintaining a constant, light grip pressure throughout the range of motion AND holding the finish while making any necessary adjustments. You MUST hold the finish and adjust... like... every time!

When executed properly... the ball should only travel about 50 yards (use a 7-iron for the drill) and the ball trajectory will most likely be lower than you're probably used to seeing (that's a good thing, indicating that the club handle was leaning toward the target at impact).

Be patient with this drill. It will work wonders for your game. Be diligent in doing it like... every time you visit the practice facility!! It's a great way to warm up the body before hitting full shots while establishing a great impact position in your swing. Enjoy!

Peace... Love... Golf!

Ted

The Price of Excellence


I’ve been reading and studying a lot lately on what it takes to truly become great… in this particular case… in becoming great at golf.

Well… like the dentist told his patient… “I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that your teeth are in perfect condition and you have no cavities. The bad news is that your gums have to come out!”

The good news… anyone, as in ANYONE can become better at golf and achieve a higher level of success. The bad news (for some)... it’s going to take dedicated practice over a significant period of time.

Matthew Syed, a former world class table tennis player has written an excellent book titled, Bounce. In it he draws comparisons of world class athletes which include; Tiger Woods, Venus and Serena Williams, Roger Federer, David Beckham, Anna Kournikova as well as many more sports and non-sports heroes. The common thread to their success? Surprisingly… it wasn't that they were born “gifted” or with "natural talent.” The common thread was purposeful and deliberate practice, practice, and more practice. As in LOTS!

I mean we all know this right? (right?)

One study Syed references in his book was conducted in 1991 by Anders Ericsson… a psychologist at Florida State University. Ericsson and his colleagues divided violin students attending the Music Academy of West Berlin in Germany, a world renowned music school, into three groups.

Group 1 - Outstanding performers who would go on to become international soloists. The highest acclaim in music.
Group 2 - Extremely good performers who would go on to play in the world’s top orchestras… but most likely would never have the chance of becoming soloists.
Group 3 - Good performers who would most likely become music teachers.

These three groups… all had similar biographical histories. They were about the same age, with the average age of musical training beginning around 8-years-old. And they all had an average of 4.1 music teachers in their lifetime.

So… why did some achieve exceptional status?

The ONLY difference between the three groups was the number of hours dedicated to serious practice!

The outstanding performers averaged about 10,000 hours of practice which was about 2,000 hours more than the second group and 6,000 hours more than the third group. Here’s the remarkable thing… there were NO EXCEPTIONS!! Nobody, as in NOBODY reached Group 1 without copious practice. Purposeful practice was the only factor distinguishing the best from the rest. Hour by hour they improved at identical rates, meaning they learned no faster than their counterparts in the other groups. The only difference… MORE HOURS!

George Leonard, in his classic and timeless book, Mastery: The Keys to To Success and Long-Term Fulfillment, writes about practicing and being on a plateau. A plateau is the place during one's development when nothing seems to get better or advance. When things might even get worse! But one day... all of a sudden... it happens. PROGRESS! And to the outside observer... it appears as if it happened overnight... but that's not the case. It's the painstaking multitude of hours practicing while on the plateau that produces that "overnight success."

Another must read book (and one of my all time favorites) that really brings home the reason why practice is important for achieving success is, The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. by Daniel Coyle. Coyle visited places around the world that he calls "hotbeds of talent." Places that produce an amazing amount of world class athletes and musicians. What did he find? That it wasn't so much about talent, or where they were born, but it was more about... yup... hard work... "ignited" by some type of goal or passion... and guided by effective coaching. He writes that it takes “deep practice,” “ignition,” and “master coaching” to achieve success.

He also talks a lot about HOW we learn. Different signals are transmitted to different areas of the brain through pathways called axons. The faster and more precise these signals are... the more effectively we are able to execute complicated tasks. Here's the good part... the MORE WE PRACTICE... the more our bodies create layers of a material known as myelin, which are sheaths that wrap around these pathways (known as myelination).

So... the more you practice a certain skill, the more myelin wraps are created around specific pathways  necessary for executing a specific skill (like fading a 9-iron). By practicing we create efficient "super highways" as opposed to say... footpaths. This is how you create a repeatable swing. This is how you become better. But be warned... myelin doesn't know good or bad... it's impartial. It wraps around the pathways you program it to. So when you practice... practice correctly.

So... how do you achieve excellence?

1) Special Circumstances - My children have a good chance of becoming professional golfers for the simple reason that there are some “special” circumstances in their favor. They live fairly close to a golf course. Because I have a golf academy at MetroWest Golf Course in Orlando, Florida… they get to practice and play as much as they want. And… they have a golf coach 24/7 at their disposal. Me! But all this is irrelevant if they don't take advantage of these special circumstances. This brings us to...

2) Quantity of Practice Time - No shortcuts. It takes time. It takes time to build myelin! Most Golfers looking for a quick fix don’t want to hear this. Sorry. My frustration as a golf instructor happens when a Golfer takes a one hour lesson with me and then tells me they tried the fixes on the golf course the next day and they didn't work. I get frustrated because the drill I assigned them... might have been one that I worked on, or one of the pros I coach have work on, for days, weeks, months, or even YEARS to incorporate into our game... yet they felt they could master it with no practice... 24 hours later. sigh.

Andre Agassi writes in his book, Open...
“My father says that if I hit 2,500 balls each day, I’ll hit 17,500 balls a week, and at the end of one year I’ll have hit nearly one million balls. He believes in math. Numbers, he says don’t lie. A child who hits one million balls each year will be unbeatable.” He was building myelin.

Jack Nicklaus writes….
“Nobody, but nobody, has ever become really proficient at golf without practice, without doing a lot of thinking and then hitting a lot of shots. It isn't so much a lack of talent; it’s a lack of being able to repeat good shots consistently that frustrates most players. And the only answer to that is practice.” In other words... building myelin. Okay... that's my word of the day as you can tell. :)

3) Self Motivation - Yes… it has to come from YOU wanting to get better and WANTING to put the time in. The best players I coach motivate themselves to practice and play. I don't need to push them. Tiger Woods said his dad never told him they had to go to the golf course... it was Tiger that asked his dad if they could go.

But... there are also circumstances that assist with birthing this self-motivation. Coyle uses the word "ignition" in his book to describe the spark that gets things going. The intensity of your ignition will determine how much time you will put into your game. If it's to beat your friends ... it might be enough to get you to practice once in a while. It it's to become a PGA or LPGA TOUR player... then chances are you'll be at the practice facility at least three to five days a week. At least.

4) Quality of Practice Time - We’ve all heard, “It’s not practice that makes better… it’s perfect practice!” It really is. Call it "purposeful practice" like Syed does or “deep practice" as Coyle does… in either case… it has to be serious, mindful, focused, specific practice. Remember... myelin doesn't know right from wrong or good from bad. It's up to you to program it so practice correctly.

Don't mindlessly beat balls and expect to get better. Break down your swing into smaller more manageable pieces and work out the kinks before putting it back together. Be diligent and deliberate when practicing and you'll see positive results!

I leave you with this bit of wisdom from Syed. Basically you get better… “by building up a bank deposit of thousands of hours of purposeful practice. THAT (emphasis mine), if you like, is the price of excellence.

You can do it! Everyone can! Go build some myelin!!

By the way... READ these incredible books. Borrow them from your library or click on the image below to take you to Amazon. PURCHASE THEM... you'll be glad you did!

                                   

PEACE... LOVE... GOLF!

Ted

5 Tips That Can Ruin Your Golf Game

 
5 Tips That Can Ruin Your Golf Game

1.    Keep Your Head Down
By far… the most popular “golf tip” amongst amateurs that can ruin YOUR game. I hear it at junior clinics from well-meaning parents… I hear it during private lessons from new students… I hear it on the golf course. As the saying goes, “If I had a dollar for every time I hear, ‘I lifted my head up,’ or ‘Keep your head down,” well… I’d be a very, VERY wealthy man.” 

Trying to keep your head down during the follow through will cause a plethora of bad “stuff” to happen. In addition, it will put unnecessary strain on your neck and back which could lead to injury.

What I think most amateurs are trying to say is not really about keeping the head down… but… keeping the forward spine tilt consistent throughout the swing. In other words… don’t straighten up during the swing.

So next time… don’t try to keep your head down and don’t NOT try to keep your head down… but instead… allow the head to come up when it wants to come up.

2.    To Start the Downswing… Turn Your Hips Toward the Target
Imagine… you attach a rock to one end of a string. Holding the other end of the string, you start twirling your hand in a lasso fashion. The rock causes the string to straighten as it orbits and tries to move away from the center (centrifugal force)… your hand.

If at the top of your swing… the hips turn to initiate the downswing… the clubhead (the rock) exerts outward force on the arms (the string) as it moves and expands away from your body (your hand). In other words… the clubhead gets thrown out (known as “casting” or “clubhead throw-away”) too soon causing weak, high shots as well as possibly hitting behind the ball or even the exact opposite… hitting the top of the ball.

Ideally… we want the clubhead to expand to its furthest point from the center, just AFTER it makes contact with the ball, which is why pros hit divots toward the target side of where the ball was.

In order to delay the club from expanding too soon… the hips must make a little lateral “bump” toward the target prior to pivoting. Simply known as the “Shift-Pivot.” This little bump or shift allows the arms to drop a bit on the downswing prior to expanding outwards AND… assists with maintaining the angle between the arms and clubshaft (known as lag) much longer through the downswing… expanding at or just after the ball has been struck… which is what we want.

3.    Hit Down On the Ball
Yes… pros DO hit the ball on a descending blow whereas amateurs have a tendency to scoop the ball into the air. HOWEVER… unless a special shot is required (like a “knock down” or “punch shot”) the pro golfer does not INTENTIONALLY try hitting down on the ball… but rather… it is a result of a good backswing/downswing.

To ALLOW (key word here and why it is in caps) the club to hit down on the ball… several things must happen.

First… to initiate the downswing… weight must start transferring to the forward hip joint (leg closest to target). This moves the center of gravity of your swing to be at the ball or slightly toward the target side of the ball. See previous tip regarding the “shift-pivot.”

Second… the arms… through gravity and the shift-pivot move… DROP down prior to coming out toward the ball. This creates the descending blow and puts the clubshaft on plane which are necessary for hitting down on the ball… while not actually TRYING to hit down on the ball. (huh?)

Third… during the downswing the club must be held LIGHTLY with the hands, creating the feeling that the wrists are “oiled hinges,” which allow the club and clubhead to expand (due to centrifugal force, thrust, momentum, and gravity) at the appropriate point in the downswing… which is AT of just past IMPACT.

4.    Don’t Allow Your Hips or Legs to Move During a Chip/Pitch Shot
When I was a junior golfer… I was taught that in order to hit a good chip shot I must do two things. One… keep my head down until I heard the “thump” of the ball when it landed on the green (See tip No. 1) and two… “cement” my lower body to prevent any movement.

For years I played like that… and beside the strain I used to feel at the back of my neck… I was mediocre at best when it came to chipping and pitching.

The interesting thing was that I was also told that the chip shot and pitch shot were mini-swings of my full swing. This confused me… but I never asked the question (at least out loud), “If this is true… am I supposed to prevent my lower body from moving in my full swing as well?”

In a good chip/pitch shot… the lower body DOES move. Watch the pros on TV if you want proof. Trying to “cement” the lower body leads to “scoopy” inconsistent shots caused by the hands “flipping” the clubhead in attempt to lift the ball in the air.

While I don’t advocate a lot of lower body movement on the backswing (which I don’t in the full swing either)… I do however like to see my students use their shoulders, chest, and yes… even the hips… to move the club forward “at” and “through” the ball. Now this isn’t a “violent’ turn… but more of a “complete” turning of the “shoulders/chest/hips package.” They rotate together as one big happy family.

If the body doesn’t move in a chip/pitch shot… then it relinquishes its role as power source over to the hands. And when that happens… inconsistent shots are the result.

Next time you chip/pitch… concentrate on finishing with your shirt buttons toward the target and allow your lower body to move as well.

5.    The Putter Head Must Go Straight Back and Straight Through When Putting
This is another method I was taught as a junior AND USED TO teach as well. But over the years… I’ve moved away from this thinking. I found that when I tried to keep my putter going straight back and straight through I found myself strangling the putter which caused my putts to “cut” and drift to the right (I’m a right-handed golfer). This is the same result you would have if you held a club too tightly during your fullswing… the shot will most likely fade or slice.

I now believe… that everyone has a naturally putter path which is typically an arcing path. Some with more arc than others.

A good putting set up is the key here. You should set up with your feet about hip width apart… putter roughly middle of stance (with ball slightly forward of middle)… hands directly below shoulders… and head tilted down toward the ball with your eyes just above the ball or slightly inside the ball/target line.

Next… it’s important to keep the grip pressure light and constant throughout the stroke and allow the putter to take the path it wants. As a matter of fact… I believe that a good putting stroke… due to the light grip pressure… even allows for a bit of “release” of the clubhead.

Light, constant grip pressure allows me to feel the putter head throughout the stroke which assists me not only with better direction… but better distance control as well. It’s one of the reasons pros take their glove off when putting. They want to “feel” the putter in their hands. When the grip pressure remains constant throughout the stroke… I only have one variable for adjusting distance… make a longer stroke for longer putts… make a shorter stroke for shorter ones. 

So focus more on a good setup routine and light, constant grip pressure next time you practice your putting and stop trying to keep the putter on a straight back – straight through path.

Well... there you have it. Five Tips (Myths) that can ruin your golf game.
BTW... if you would like me to have a look at your swing... click on the Online Video Lesson tab. It's as easy as 1-2-3! and a GREAT investment toward getting your golf game to the next level!
Peace... Love... Golf!

Ted

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