Play Your Best When it Matters MostWritten by Bill Murchison
The simple answer is to be prepared which means having a plan. The complete plan for an elite player peaking at their provincial and national championships is not possible to present in a short piece but the following outlines some general concepts with a few specifics that standout.
An elite player’s yearly training plan has significant detail within cycles and phases including periodization. Periodization is an organized plan sequencing the events and activities in your training and preparation to get to peak performance at an exact time, when you want it. The general cycles within your yearly training plan would include; training and preparation, pre-competitive and competitive seasons.
Periodization is easily seen in the schedules of top ranked players on the PGA Tour, they are clearly tapering, resting, preparing and then working to peak for each major. Our condensed Canadian season, with a busy competitive calendar adds to the challenge and discipline required for proper peaking. It might be obvious but in order to peak there must also be planned periods of tapering and rest in both June and July.
Every component of your training and preparation fits within the plan. Ideally your integrated support team are all involved and it is all coordinated by your coach. This includes equipment, fitness, technical, tactical, psychological and health and lifestyle (diet, nutrition and rest).
Equipment – Plan your fitting in the spring, re-gripping in June or a grip cleaning a couple weeks ahead of your majors. Be sure you have options for set make up depending on the course.
Fitness – Add strength and power early in the training and preparation cycle, followed by golf specific fitness in pre-competitive and maintenance only during the competitive season. Maintenance is key to staying healthy and to avoid losing speed and distance during the taxing competitive season.
Technical – Changes and the introduction of new skills take place ahead of the competitive season. The competitive season includes assessment and monitoring. Refinement of skills is limited and carefully implemented. If your coach has their hands all over you on the range during warm up at a major event you have a serious problem. When you see a coach on the range with a tour player at an event they are there to reassure and encourage, the feedback to the player is minimal, positive and significantly filtered. Good coaches instill confidence and trust prior to performance.
Checklists – You need to have detailed home and away competition checklists that include exact timing. An executed competition plan will eliminate issues and distraction. Avoiding drama will enhance performance.
Lifestyle – Late nights, pizza and milkshakes are for the fans, not the athletes. Chocolate bars and sugar drinks at the turn won’t get it done either, especially if you end up with a 10 hour round due to weather delays. Enough said on this but if you want to do your best the difference between good and great performance can easily be found here.
Tactical – Complete tactical preparation does not include a money game during your last look at the test that lies ahead. Get the most out of your practice round, have your course mapping, game plan and yardage book ready.
Psychological – Ideally as you get closer to your events the focus on practice shifts to include significant modelling of competition with a much greater focus on your pre-shot routine. Be sure your routine meets pace of play guidelines and practice it being timed for consistency. When you do (and you will) get paired with somebody slow you don’t have to change your routine or worry about being on the clock. Your practice and routine should also include visualization and positive self-talk. Only you control your thoughts and emotions, practising how you think is relatively easy if you have clear process goals with good strategies for managing your focus and emotions.
If you have done the work there is no reason not to trust yourself and be confident. By having a plan and being prepared you will have controlled everything you can and will have taken the steps to have your best performance when it matters most!
Play Your Best When it Matters Most
This article was originally published in the 2018 edition of The Alberta Golfer Magazine. To view the full magazine, click here.