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Archive for July, 2012|Monthly archive page

Finishing Up the First Month

In Personal on July 26, 2012 at 10:25 pm

It’s been a good first month for my training project and while I’m not going to reach the amount of swings I’d like to have (not that that was a realistic number), I’m very happy with I have done. I noticed this week that the joints in my hand and fingers were beginning to grow weak and irritated so it was time to take a full break to recover. Meaning I won’t get to 70,000 swings, but that’s okay. What I’m most interested in right now is building a stronger body that can handle the load of training without becoming so overwhelmed that the entire point of the practice, to get better, is lost.

But my hand should recover by the end of the month so I can start off August strong. I may not get to one million by the end of exactly one year, but if I get to 900,000 that isn’t going to be too bad.

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Blog’s Lacking Look

In Personal on July 21, 2012 at 9:59 pm

I really need to think about improving the appearance of this blog. At first I was thinking of one of those neat, picture heavy magazine type designs. But actually that’s a terrible idea. I don’t want to have to edit up some photographs every time I feel like making a post. I do need something more organized though, front page of the Wall Street Journal style more than multimedia heavy. Perhaps I can design a template since I haven’t seen anything to my liking, although that’s more computer work I will have a hard time doing. I once learned CSS and created a whole comedy website, and my memories of having to code out that whole thing are not fond.

Anyway, back to golf. Golf is going well. I’m trying to keep up pace and finish the month at or a little over 70,000 swings. Only around 10,000 less than what my monthly average needs to be in order to get to a million. Of course I’d like subsequent months to be in excess of that monthly average, this will prove to be a strong start if I can get that many in this first month. My joint supplements have definitely had an effect, my hip doesn’t ache like it used to, any pain can normally be stretched away. The stuff is called ‘Animal Flex’ and it’s basically a little plastic bag filled with pills you take everyday. It’s a strange sounding name, but bodybuilders on the internet seemed to swear by its effectiveness and I have to say my joints are feeling stronger, not weaker even with continued practice. So I’m a satisfied customer at this point.

Once July is over I’m going to double down on my form work, watch more video and do more slow motion practice. This month has really been mostly about conditioning, although my swing has become far more consistent. But that’s the basic idea behind my training, practice will make perfect. My midbrain and cerebellum organize the motion of my swing more efficiently with every passing day, and by the end of the year striking a golf ball will be as easy as walking.

I’ve been thinking about my long term goals for this a lot this past week, next spring I’ll definitely try a little low level competitive golf. I don’t expect to be a master of the game by then or anything, but work my way up from there once I see where I’m at. I’d love the chance to take a shot at joining the Nationwide Tour. Although I’ll never really be anything more than a true amateur golfer, my heart lies in the writing I can’t seem to do because of this odd mental disease. Still I can be that and a technically professional golfer at the same time, since it seems I’ve got the talent for it. Anyway, that’s all for now.

Mirror Work

In Articles on July 19, 2012 at 1:50 pm

One of the great difficulties in learning how to improve your swing is that out on the range you can’t see yourself do it. And since you can’t see yourself do it, you’re assuming you’re doing something correctly or perhaps incorrectly by feel alone. Meaning you miss a lot.
The obvious answer is to use a reflective surface so you can watch yourself, and I’m going to tell you today that if you’re interested in really improving your golf swing you need to make this a significant part of your training. I’ve worked a lot in front of a mirror and it helped me create a good swing quickly when I started and it helps me continue to build that swing correctly as I continue to learn.¬† Sometimes I get lazy or pile laundry in front of my full length mirror and skip mirror work, and I start to get sloppy.

My recommendation is do 20 to 100 slow motion swings in front of a mirror or reflective window on every training day. Focus on what you’re worried is off in your swing or on making sure you’ve got your fundamentals sound for whatever club or clubs you’re working on that day.

Personally I like to look at particular joints and make sure they are all behaving the way I want them to in order to do this. I’ll watch my lead knee to make sure it’s bending without my hips sliding, my back knee to make sure it’s not moving at all, my lower torso movement, and of course my elbows, wrists, and especially the action of the club (which you can consider an extension of your own body).

I don’t have a lot of points of concern for my swing (certainly you’ll have your own personal ones for your specific swing), but to share: I make sure my lead knee bends out simultaneously with my takeway and is largely done moving by the time my club shaft becomes parallel to the ground, my back knee moves as little as possible, my hips do not sway, my arms and torso form a single simultaneous takeaway, my club shaft is parallel to the target line when I take it back, that my lead arm stays stiff, and that my back arm guides my hands back along the same path I’ve specifically practiced thousands of time to form that “triangle” you hear golfers talk about (hopefully you have heard about it because that’s not much of an explanation).

Anyway, my point is those are the things I focus on because they’re important to my mind in having a good swing, and when I do them correctly I do take a good swing. By doing slow motion swings over and over again in front of a mirror you can watch each thing on your personal swing list and make sure you’re doing them the way you want to, which in turn burns the correct motion into your “muscle memory.”
Also when over time people tend to develop bad habits, which are really mismovements your brain is making without you realizing it. Mirror exercises keep you on track or put you back on track if you develop some bad habits.
So remember, try and spend some time on your training days doing slow motion mirror work and focusing on your personal swing fundamentals. I talked about mostly backswing in this post, but of course follow through and make sure you’re performing your downswing correctly as well. If you don’t have a full length mirror they do sell cheap ones at Target or similar retailers that can be a bit thin but still work fine, or also if you go outside and find a highly reflective window that works to practice in front of as well.

I realize this is a pretty simple concept and most every reader probably doesn’t need it explained in great detail, but the thing I want to emphasize is DO IT. Really make sure you spend the time doing it throughout your training regimen and don’t stop as you get more advanced because you think you don’t need it anymore. It’s a crucial element in having your practice make you better.

Got a cold in the middle of summer and doing more stretching

In Personal on July 18, 2012 at 10:55 am

I got sick for two days after attending a party, which severely curtailed my efforts on Sunday and Monday. Fortunately I’m feeling much better and got a full 3,300 swings in yesterday.

I noticed I’ve fallen too far behind on my swing schedule this month and it doesn’t sit well with me. At this point I’ll be lucky to get anything over 60,000 practice swings. Of course I realize that this month should be my most difficult month since I’ve had to swing myself into shape. But still, 20,000+ swings behind is no good.

I’m starting to incorporate a more responsible athletic routine into all my golf training now as well. I’m working on stretching for my hips every day to keep them healthy and avoid pain. The joint supplements also seem to be helping as I feel not just less pain, but less of that specific grindy sort of ache you get when your joints are clearly getting overworked.

Well today I think I will get to focusing in on my driver swing, try to find the right groove for that and start practicing it much more. Trying to emulate Tiger Wood’s driver swing is what I started on so I know my basics for the form, but I’ve sort of gotten sloppy as I’ve worked more heavily with other¬† clubs. Anyway, that’s all for now.

Future Article Ideas

In Personal on July 15, 2012 at 12:54 pm

So I wanted to use a post to collect my thoughts about what things I can share which have been working for me on this journey to get better at golf. I have developed a few basic exercises which I think are really helping me perform what the 10,000 hour people call “deliberate practice,” or what I think of as practicing to get better.

Video work and mirror work are the first ones I’ll go over, both invaluable to finding your proper swing, then also my techniques for slow motion work, which roots out poor form and bad habits.

I also want to do a longer post on how to generate power, with illustrations to help show what I’m talking about. I haven’t had any test subjects try my methods yet (other than myself of course), but hopefully I can write up my methods for how to start generating swing power from the hip in a way that other people will find makes sense.

Oh, and I also want to write a better ‘About’ piece, maybe in a post at least, which explains what all this is about and what my ultimate goals are. That’s part of the overall building of this blog, which clearly still needs a lot of design work done on it. Fortunately I doubt anyone is reading this thing yet, so I don’t have to panic about it.

The Proper Mindset for Constructing or Reconstructing Your Swing

In Articles on July 14, 2012 at 11:38 am

I’ve been enjoying reading some other people’s accounts of trying to become great at golf, such as The Dan Plan (a serious effort) and the novel Paper Tiger (a less serious effort). It seems a lot of the amateur golf world is interested in the idea of going from normal golfer to PGA Tour Pro. I admit I would be quite happy becoming a big fish on the Mid-Ams, but I wouldn’t mind winning a Masters either.

Anyway, with all the concern over what it takes to become a really good golfer, I thought I’d share what I think is the most important tip to starting the journey: Understand what a golf swing really is. The only thing I knew about swinging a golf club when I started was that it was a specific, very non-intuitive action. That knowledge was invaluable.

When you step up to hit a golf ball, you’re not stepping up to hit a golf ball. I think most people go wrong by trying to do it intuitively, and just hitting the golf ball with their best approximation of proper form. That’s wrong. When you step up to the ball think of yourself performing a golf swing, the ball is merely in the path and will ultimately be your club’s concern.

A golf swing is a specific physical act, like a dance move in ballet. Actually that’s my favorite way to think about it, a golf swing is like a precise ballet move. When a dancer performs a move they don’t just do it their own way, they use total body control to perform it in the very, very, very specific manner their instructors have taught them. It’s not about vaguely understanding your supposed to spin around three times and jump in the air, instead every limb has a specific place and way to move and the net result is you will spin round three times and jump in the air by performing those movements.

So too with a golf swing. The golf swing is a specific, precise act. Perform it like a ballet dancer dances, like a surgeon making absolutely precise cuts, like a guitar player creating the chord he wants with one hand and strumming just the way he wants with the other, no room for anything but precisely the correct movement.

That’s the correct way to begin. I personally swing train without a golf ball the majority of the time, I think most people would benefit from that. The golf ball gets in the way of learning how to swing because you’re focused on what the golf ball does. You can’t become a great golfer by focusing on anything but yourself, the feedback of a golf ball is helpful, but absolutely unnecessary for anything but a small percentage of your practice. Don’t forget the golf ball entirely of course, and some days as you progress you’ll want to work on nothing but ball striking, but most of the time focus solely on your swing, and always remember that you affect only the club, the way you control the club is what sends the golf ball off the way you want. Don’t put your focus into a golf ball with you never even physically touch.

Back After Rest

In Personal on July 11, 2012 at 5:34 pm

So I took three days off to let myself recover and it felt nice. But now I’m back to 3,300 swings a day, although this morning I began to feel pain in my knee as I worked on my driver swing. Hopefully it passes without incident, but it made me worried about getting a serious injury that would derail the whole thing. There’s no affording surgery or anything of the kind fore me, it would just be the abrupt end of the golf for me.

But I’ll go easy tonight, do some narrow stance swing work which will be less stressful on the knee. Also I’m taking a joint supplement now which hopefully will kick in and lower any joint pain or stress after a week or two. I may not get to 70,000 swings this month, but I’m definitely going to try my best to get there. The heat wave has broke, so it won’t be nearly as grueling.

Resting

In Personal on July 8, 2012 at 1:43 am

So I finished strong yesterday and I’m going to do my best tonight, but my hip has pretty much yelled “uncle!” and I need a break. My lower back is pretty worn down from putting too, as far as that goes. I hate to ever pass the buck to tomorrow for what I’m supposed to do today, but I’ve had a great first week and need to let my body fully recover so it can grow stronger as I continue on.

While I wish I could do 100,000 practice swings this month, 70,000 would be a real victory. More than that is great, less than that is less great, but putting in significant work and improving my swing is the real goal and I’m definitely dong that.

Also once this heat wave passes it’ll be a lot easier to train as well. I’ve been chased indoors by a week’s worth of 90+ degree days that are just nasty. With some mornings and evenings in the 70s and 80s and my improved physical conditioning I should be able to continue through the rest of this month and the next just fine.

Training and Recovery

In Personal on July 5, 2012 at 6:43 pm

One big challenge in my training is trying to keep my body recovered between training sessions. Some things can help with that, such as training designed not to be overly stressful to my joints and muscles, moderately paced and so on. Another thing is not going overboard on my swings, not trying to use a ball too often, having light weight practice club to use at least half the time, and so on. If I tried to do 2,000 club swings a day with an actual golf ball I’d be worn out after a single day.

Still it’s difficult. I hope to find more strategies and recovery techniques as I go here and learn more about what my body needs. I’m looking into the ice baths used by NFL athletes, using my massage chair more often, and also trying an inversion table my brother gave me to help stretch out my back.

The main problem areas are my lead hip, which drives my swing, and my back, which is already a problem. Anyway, I’m going to buy some joint supplements and use my lightweight practice club almost exclusively for the rest of the week. Then start up next week with pure putting days which let me rest.

Happy 4th of July!

In Personal on July 5, 2012 at 12:55 am

Convenient that a holiday should fall right as I begin my training and give me a much needed rest. It’s hard work swinging a golf club that much and making sure you’re actually practicing your form as you do it. I imagine it may take a few months before I really get into good enough conditioning to where I can do this without a rather high amount of effort. Fortunately that’s where the putter comes in! Remember half of golf is putting (literally), and I plan to make putting strokes around 40% of my overall swing total. Today I’m doing 2,000, they aren’t tiring at all, and help keep me on pace.