Following his Open Championship win at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Rory McILroy posted the following picture on Facebook:
“Back to work today @GSK_HPL #betterneverstops #GSKHPL”
The picture that Rory McILroy posts on Facebook was taken at the GSK Human Performance Lab Sports Science Center located in Brentford, South England. Many fans on Facebook were curious and posted comments on his page such as,
“Looks like a hard day in Gym and Fitness camp.”
“Should I do this to improve my golf?”
“Too bad the average person can’t afford such treatment.”
“Are these secrets to better golf?”
“Why are you dressed like Buzz Lightyear?”
Funny and negative comments aside, the main question asked, “Should I be doing this to improve my golf?”
The answer is “YES!”
It is true that some of the physiological testing that McILroy goes through in the picture (VO2 Max) may be a little over the top for the average golfer, however, when you want to be the best at your sport, then you will go through the extra effort to get the information you need about your fitness level. The GSK Human Performance lab is continually developing tests to measure an elite athlete’s strength , endurance, nutrition, recovery, as well as cognitive thinking.
Getting control of your “mental game”, means getting control of your “physical game.” Again, you may ask, “Should I be doing this to improve my golf?” The answer again is, “Yes!” However, you do not have to fly to Brentford to be tested. In fact, fitness assessments can be performed by most certified personal trainers or strength and conditioning coaches.
At FitGolf Performance Centers, we have our own Golf Performance Evaluation where we can put you through a physical screen to identify any muscle imbalances you may have. We also use KVEST Technology which helps us identify any possible PHYSICAL issues in your swing. Knowing your health history, as well as any previous injuries is important, because they can affect your golf game. Even something that happened years ago! It is important to know what kind of sports you played when you were younger, because the training you went through may also affect your golf game. Finally, your current lifestyle and job may also affect your golf game.
No matter how hard you try on the golf course, how many lessons you take, or how many mental golf books you read, you still may have issues with your game that have nothing to do with those things. Going through a fitness assessment will allow you to understand what your current “training age” is and where your baseline fitness level is at. Once you know where you are at, then you can beginning working on the areas that need improvement. You also are able to understand what you do well!
Many times golfers continue to practice the things they already do well, because it builds their confidence. Knowing what you do physically well, will allow you to spend more time on the skills that need development. Working with a Golf Fitness Professional will allow you to have an initial assessment, and develop a PLAN to address your weaknesses. Having a structured plan will free up more time because you will be focusing on the things you need to improve. More time, means more time to play and do more important things!
Last week we wrote about eating to keep your brain focused and your body energetic for the entire competitive round of golf. Complex carbs and proteins every few holes will keep you blood sugar level, and your brain and body well focused and tuned. There is one more ingredient that you need to consider. From the title of this entry you might think I am going to talk about sports drinks or your favorite beer. While they are tasty, they will not help you compete. In fact, the sugar in sports drink makes the simple sugars which hit you quickly and then cause a crash in blood sugar. Your favorite beer will actually dehydrate you. It is a diuretic.
This conversation, fellow golfers is about the pros of adequate hydration. I have heard that when you are 2% dehydrated you loose 25% of your mental focus. The problem is that you do not know you are dehydrated, ie you are not thirsty until you are 3% dehydrated. Think about that, you are 25% less focused and sharp when 2% dehydrated, but you do not even know that you are low on water. That is a real problem. By the time you are thirsty it is too late.
Golfers say to me “but Dave, when I am thirsty I will drink the water, isn’t that good enough?” Well sadly no. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the signs of dehydration are:
- loss of appetite
- flushed skin
- heat intolerance
- dark-colored urine
- dry cough
The best way to beat dehydration is to drink before you get thirsty. If you wait until after you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
The American College of Sports Medicine says: “to avoid dehydration, active people should drink at least 16- 20 ounces of fluid one to two hours before an outdoor activity. After that, you should consume 6 to 12 ounces of fluid every 10 to 15 minutes that you are outside. When you are finished with the activity, you should drink more. How much more? To replace what you have lost: at least another 16 to 24 ounces (2- 3 cups) .”
But Dave, if I drink that much, I will have to stop at every tree or outhouse to pee. Initially that may be the case. In a week or two of proper hydration your kidneys and bladder get used to it and will regular you better.
There is a simple rule of thumb that I tell our golfers about. If you drink 50% of your body weight in ounces of water daily that handles your daily needs. As an example, if you weight 180 pounds, then drink 90 ounces of water a day. On your golf days that number goes up to as much as 70% of body weight in ounces. That would be 126 ounces for that same 180 pound person. That is seven 16 ounce bottles of water.
But Dave, you are talking about water…does that mean I can count sports drinks, coffee, tea and beer towards the total. The answer is a resounding NO!!! Alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, teas, and colas, are not recommended for optimal hydration. These fluids tend to pull water from the body and promote dehydration. Fruit juice and fruit drinks may have too many carbohydrates, too little sodium, and may upset the stomach.
If it is hot and you are sweating heavily, you can add a mineral packet like HyLites electrolytes to your water. It will give you the needed minerals to maintain electrolyte balance in your body when it is hot and you sweat and it does not have all the sugar of the sports drinks.
If you want mental focus and a high performance body, it needs to be well hydrated…and fed. You have control over what you put in your body…decide that you want better energy and focus then hydrate well and feed with high quality foods.
I am here if you have any questions.
David Ostrow, PT
I get asked all the time “what should I eat during a competitive round of golf, or during a tournament so I keep the focus and body working at peak performance?” My answer is always the same: Each low fat protein and complex carbs. Why? is the next question i usually get. It all comes down to how the body metabolizes what we eat. As you read this think about what you take to the course in terms of food, or what you get at the halfway house.
Consider the following:
First, data suggests that walking 18 holes of golf carrying your bag results in the burning of 2500 Calories…yes 2500…that is in addition to what you need in your daily diet to just live.
Simple Carbs (pretzels, chips, cracker, bread, sports drinks, juicy fruits, candy, a plate of pasta, etc) all have very easily accessed carbos, that are immediately ingested through the gut into the blood stream as simple sugars. The result is that you get a spike and then a rapid fall off of blood sugar. That in turn leads to a rapid spike in blood insulin levels to manage the blood sugar levels. Some experts even report that the low after simple carbs can last for 3-5 hours. All that up and down of simple sugar, and insulin interferes with brain and body function. It can lead to a feeling of fatigue, mental sluggishness, and focus issues.
Complex Carbs (uncooked veggies, hard fruits, nuts, whole grains, etc) need to be broken down then metabolized in the intestine and as a result enter the blood stream slower than simple carbs. We get a slower burn and less insulin bouncing with more stable blood glucose…and better body and brain function. Some report as much as 75-90 minutes of stable blood glucose from this form of energy.
Proteins (animal or vegetable) create a longer burn of energy than either of the types of carbos. Protein needs to be broken down in the gut, and turned into simple sugars…and this takes time and yields a very slow release of energy that helps keep blood sugars and insulin level for up to 2-3 hours. The challenge of this type of food on the golf course is that a chicken leg, or piece of meat, or fish needs special care to stay fresh out of the fridge. So it is more of a challenge to carry on course. Alternatives are low fat, low carb protein bars or drinks or soy products (vegetable protein).
Fats is the last group While fats are seen as the worst for you, and some even think of fats as the devil himself, we need some fat in our diet. Fat is a component in myelin ( the insulation around our nerves that make them work right). We don’t need a great deal of fat, but some is necessary. Fat takes hours to metabolize but we need not gnaw on a hunk of blubber…there are all kinds of foods in the animal protein world that have modest amounts of fat in them. Lean beef, chicken, tuna, salmon, shrimp, all have some form of fats in them. Small doses are ok.
So what do I eat in a round of golf to stay focused and energized?
If you choose to eat category one foods (simple carbs), expect focus and performance problems and challenges. It is through a bit of planning to eat category 2 (complex carbs) and category 3 (protein) that you fuel your body and brain with High Octane fuels.
I tell our athletes that every 2-3 holes they should have a complex carb group or a protein group. The amount should be similar to the volume of the person’s fist. So if you make a fist, and look at the size of your fist, find foods in the protein and complex carb groups of that volume. Example: a medium apple or pear, a box of raisins, a handful of almonds, a chicken breast, a can of tuna, a protein bar. Eat something like these foods every 2-3 holes, a sensible meal Simple…we it can be with some planning. Don’t expect to carry a slab of salmon on the course…ew, that could be a mess…The object of this drill is to eat smart every 2-3 holes, and then eat a big meal after your round of golf. That will off set the burn of Calories that the round causes, and will keep your focus and your body working like a finely tuned machine for all 18 holes.
Oh, and breakfast before the round…the same mantra: complex carbs and protein. No not flapjacks and syrup…that is sugar. Whole grain toast, steel cut oats, eggs, slice of meat, some fruit…simple.
I hope you find this useful, and eat to compete.
PS: Next time we talk about the universal solvent in the body…stay tuned.