New BodiTrak Vector

The new improved BodiTrak Vector is now available for training. The new feature is the ability to measure vertical force; a direct relation to club head speed and distance. Data from the first days use is very interesting, but one point that caught my eye was the relatively constant force on the trail foot in the following four examples. The four shots flew 149, 157, 165, and 204 yards respectively. All with a seven iron. The average percent body weight on the rear foot force was 34.5% ranging from 32, 34, 35, and 37 percent (pretty much all the same). So the increased club head speed and distance was the result of force on the front foot, and total. The photo depicts the longest and shortest seven iron shots with their respective data. The force on the lead foot is blue, and the total is orange. We’ve had a lot of fun getting to our left side, but now we can see if we really mean it!

 

 

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What would a good shot look like?

Back in the last century I was fortunate to practice Tai Chi with Dr. Wen Zee, who was one of the most renowned masters in the world. So while living in Poland a few years back it pleased me to find a golf coach who used Tai Chi while searching the internet; her name is Jayne Storey. I always remembered Jayne’s connection to Tai Chi, and was absolutely pleased to recently listen to her interview on a podcast with another one of my favorites from the UK, Dr. Karl Morris. The interview was very insightful covering topics like breathing, meditation, and motion control. An interesting story was of Hogan hitting balls into the sea, and practicing his motion in a slow Tai Chi style tempo. He was directing his attention to a different place; getting into the flow or committed focus. I felt like I needed a method for golf students to practice directing attention to a different place. One without all the interference and distraction that can cause anxiety of wanting to hit every shot perfect.

My idea was a simple black dot displayed on the screen of the training bay. Still running in the background was the Foresight GC Quad to record each shots path (in this case a 150 yard green guarded by bunkers on both sides). The black dot screen also has reminders listed like What would a good shot look like? How will it feel? and some focus points like: finish, center of face, and balance. The most recent student to practice this is one of my high-end players. The plan was to play five shots through the dot and visualize them landing on the green. I asked him to let the ball go through the dot, feel what was happening in real-time, and after all five we’ll check the results. He pushed the first shot, and admitted he tried to hit the dot (instead of letting it go through). Then he smiled; the picture on the right is worth a thousand words. Many thanks to Jayne and Karl for being the catalyst for this fun way to practice!

Listen to the interview with Jayne and Karl here http://chi-performance.com/the-brain-booster-interview/

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Clinic with First Tee Tucson Using BLAST for Tempo

We documented data from 73 junior golfers from the Tucson First Tee program. A good resonant ratio of 2.0:1 is excellent. The kids averaged 1.9:1! Great work!

 

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Swing Focus and Brain Speed

 

One of the good things that happened to my teaching acumen after studying with Phil Kenyon in 2010 and 2012 was I got hooked on study and research. That mind-set was directly responsible for my goal to attain PGA of America Certification in Teaching and Coaching. So those of you that have studied with me as students and friends know I’m into how we learn with the brain in mind (Michael Hebron’s book title). One of my go to mind numbers is computer style bit rate. Conscious thinking on focus point was thought to operate at 50 bits per second until May 2017 when I found out it was slower at 40 bits per second. The unconscious mind is up in the air from 2,000,000 bits per second to over 20,000,000 bits per second depending on which publication you’re reading. That being written, the conscious mind then operates at 150 milliseconds for a single thought for a world-class athlete and between 250-350 for the rest or us. The quote Shakespeare, “there’s the rub.” A normal swing takes 250 milliseconds so when do we have time to think? “There’s the rub,” if you try to purposefully focus on impacting the ball you’re at least 150 milliseconds late (Pause 60 seconds and think about that), and you don’t have time to consciously finish your swing. How many teaching and coaching sessions have we done with a goal of swing focus on the balanced finish; yet we find our pelvis stops rotating giving us a pull hook or push. What happened? Where was our swing focus?

So examine the pictures of this world-class golfer, and pay close attention to the yellow arrows. Some think his swing is as close to perfect as anyone can get (me too). I bet he was thinking about the finish, or any other normal thing after impact. What do you think?

The players time from start to finish is 150 milliseconds. If he only focused on hitting the ball he would probably stop some body movement at impact. However, he moves through impact to a balanced finish as though the ball were just in the way of his finish. So swing focus should be on movement after impact possibly 200 milliseconds after impact so the sub-conscious mind can strike the ball.

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Quick Quiet Eye Test

https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=Nv1kmhYwmJ4 

This past week I listened to a very good podcast about Quiet Eye, the subject of diligent research by Dr. Joan Vickers (Perception, Cognition and Decision Training). I first learned of Dr Vickers findings years ago in Holland during the first level of instructor training, Harold Swash Putting School of Excellence. Quiet Eye is all about gaze and focus, and isn’t only useful for golf. It is found in archery, target shooting, and even the NBA. I think it is paramount in giving performance responsibility to the subconscious mind (that’s a deep subject for another day). So just for fun I asked five of my students to be “research subjects” with me while we made flattering videos of our heads with our chins tucked in to see if we could track eye movement. It worked, but without a super scientific timer the assessments were totally subjective (fun meter was very high). I hope your eyes stay quiet when you play!

 

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I Think I’ll Make This Putt

When we practice our game we grasp at every straw we can to improve: watch videos, beat balls for hours, putt balls arranged in a circle, go to the gym, listen to any tip from anyone, but the one thing that matters most we rarely try to improve; the brain. Our brain is the single most important player in any movement, and research shows the more balanced the brain the better. And we can give our brain a workout just like we workout our glutes in the gym; with Opti Brain and the Muse headband. Today I trained for Synergy, which measures the synchronicity in the whole brain. Studies show a balanced Synergy pattern is the best for performance. The more synergy just before an action like a putt helps increase the probability of hearing it drop into the cup. Just to make it more interesting I recorded this pattern while standing on one foot for thirty seconds. Look for some synergy during our next putting clinic at the Superstore.

 

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anxiety and DUCK, DUCK, GOOSE

Duck, duck, goose is a game, a pretty simple game (if you’re a kid and more mobile than most golfers). It doesn’t appear to create severe anxiety or many negative emotions, in fact, it looks like fun. Fun will make us happy, grateful, and just plain in love with our game. Duck, duck, goose has an official website and the rules are:

  1. Sit in a circle with at least four people.
  2. Select one person to lead or be ‘it.’
  3. The ‘it” person walks around the circle touching each on the head saying, “duck” until they decide to say “goose.”
  4. Then “it” runs around the circle, the “goose” jumps up an chases ‘it.’
  5. If ‘it’ runs around the circle and sits in the “goose” spot the “goose is now “it.”
  6. Repeat

Kind of like golf isn’t it? Start with four people, take turns hitting your ball with a stick to the target. Repeat. It makes us happy, grateful, and full of love for our game.

But believe it or not the official duck, duck, goose web page has more rules for even more anxiety/fun. Try it in a different language, be silent and drop a napkin on the goose, physically wrestle the ‘goose’ for their spot, and even play the game while swimming. You could even exercise to become stronger and faster, only “goose” the slow kid, etc…until duck, duck, goose isn’t fun anymore. Emotions like anger, fear, and even hate may appear.

So the anxiety monster even affects our golf game with things like: counting strokes, hazards, aiming, hurry up, the rule grinch, and the dreaded, always elusive, increased club head speed. To stay happy, grateful, and keep loving our game we think we need daily trips to the practice area with our coach, gymnasium training, massage therapist, a mental coach, and even new shoes.

Or we can look at each shot as a new chance for happiness, love, and gratitude. So the next time you find you golf ball, before you let it fly, listen for the ball to ask, “Where would you like me to go?” Keep your answer the same for each shot,”SURPRISE ME!”

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Had a BLAST at the PGA Teaching and Coaching Summit

Last week I attended the PGA Teaching and Coaching Summit (and more) in Orlando. Besides meeting and learning from some wonderful people, I had the chance to purchase the BLAST training system for teachers and players. It uses a small sensor easily connected to any club  measuring  tempo, rhythm, and more. In particular, face rotation during a putt, so coming to a golf lesson near you we will measure face rotation to the tenth of a degree (we know what one degree does!!). Check out my stinky example; that was a test so I hope I can do better than 1.9 degrees!

What’s even cooler, it’s going to interact with BodiTrak!!!!!!!

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The Straight Putt/Intermediate Target Skill Challenge

I had a wonderful time visiting with my putting mentor during the 2016 Ryder Cup, Phil Kenyon. The Golf Channel reported Phil was Europe’s secret weapon as the putting coach for most members of the team, but the USA won the Cup in an epic contest regardless of Phil’s coaching efforts. I thought I’d share an example of something I experienced watching the master at work.

Justin Rose was practicing with Phil at hand. A process he used which can help everybody improve their aim was to hold the putter waist high  with the shaft aligned to the target, favoring the dominant eye. Then select an intermediate target along the shaft line  for the ball to transit en route to the real target. Most golfers do something like that for almost every shot. Sounds pretty simple, and a skill easily acquired.

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But there’s a but!

But during practice Justin actually marked the intermediate target spot with a Sharpie, and Phil used his laser chalk line to make sure there wasn’t any visual bias which could influence the desired result.

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And there’s an and.

And Justin is 6 feet 3 inches tall, so with an educated guess his intermediate target is 6 feet from the ball. That distance is out of precision range for most of us! So there’s more to it than simply aiming at that 12 inch intermediate target we like to use. We all should rehearse the cluster of the pre-roll set up to improve our aiming skill with an intermediate target at ever  increasing distance intervals. The farther we can move the intermediate target the greater the accuracy, and the less chance for the ball to roll off the desired  line.

And then…what’s next?

 

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APN1

I just learned of the passing of Arnold Palmer. This is a long story, but I’ll cut it short. We both grew up in Western Pennsylvania, and he is the absolute sole reason I’m where I am today. In 1985 I played golf fairly well (lie), but my real job was being an instructor in the best fighter ever made, the F-16. I was ordered to fly to Miami to escort some VIP around for a week while he hung out with every general in the world and then lead a mission while he got to fly the Viper (definitely not a place to be if you have a cool non-regulation mustache, but I was a fighter pilot and had a scarf!). Yes, Sir!

My jet was clean and spotless on the base ramp as I was surrounded by every general in the world. Every one of them looking at my white lip, cackling under their breath knowing I had just euthanized my killer mustache. It got pretty loud as the Cessna Citation taxied next to my sleek Viper, big ceremony about to start, but all I could see was the tail number of the Cessna: APN1…what was that! As it got quiet and the door opened I saw the VIP: Arnold Palmer Number 1. I spent most of the week with him.

Before our mission he asked what I wanted to do when I hung up my flying boots. After a few negative responses from me about hauling trash for an airline, aphe said if I practiced my short game I could  become a member of the PGA of America. So I did; I’ve been a member since 1994. I was honored a few years ago when Jack Whittaker told the story of Mr. Palmer and me on the Golf Channel. It was from the book A Spirit of Golf, by John M. Capozzi. I can feel that Spirit right now, RIP, Mr. Palmer.

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