Real Improvement Happens in the Offseason

We hear the clichés all the time. Champions are made in the offseason, or the best athlete is made during the offseason.  Every coach talks about the offseason being the foundation to success.  If all of that is true, and I believe it is, then why do many of us treat the offseason as a break from golf?

I usually always take a winter break from golf. I would play the few times the temperature rose enough to play while wearing a few base layers, but improvement plans slipped my mind.  This year, I will take a different approach to my offseason.  Since failing to plan is a problem, I created an offseason plan to improve my weak areas.

My offseason plan focuses on 2 areas for improvement, my swing and fitness. My swing needs the work to start the season more consistent.  However, fitness might be the biggest area I can improve during the break.  Here is my plan for the winter:

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Day Off Full Swing Work Putting Work Day Off Workout Day #2 Chipping Work Simulated Practice on Optishot
  Walk on the Treadmill Workout Day #1   Walk on Treadmill to Finish Workout Day #3  

 

The plan seems like more work than during the season, which I had trouble reaching 5 days. However, I plan to adjust when I do some of the work.  I have kids, and one of the best ways to teach our kids is through modeling behavior.  Saving my fitness and workout for the evening while they are in bed doesn’t provide the extra benefit of teaching them fitness is important.  Since my kids are still young enough to find playing anything with me as fun, I plan to have the workout days with them.

Golf fitness is a little different than just lifting weights, so I designed 3 workouts that are 15-30 minutes that will help me become a better athlete and be fun with the kids. Here is the plan:

 

Workout Day #1:

Warmup

Squats with a Medicine Ball

Agility Drills on a Speed ladder

Jumping Hurdles (the progressively taller banana step hurdles)

Frog Jumping Race

 

Workout Day #2

Warmup

Medicine Ball Throws

-Squat Throw High

– Side Throw

Pushups

Crab Race

 

Workout Day #3

Warmup

Medicine Ball Spikes

Medicine Ball Jumps

Planks

Sit up throws with medicine ball

Plank Race

 

I know some of the activities sound silly, but making the workout fun helps motivate me to actually do it. Fun workouts will also get my kids involved and they will also encourage me to do the work.

The golf work will be similar to during the season. I will pick a specific area to work on, but will continue to focus on interleaved and variable practice with the testing effect to build my new motions.  I recently subscribed to Golf Science Lab, and they provide a ton of information on proper practice.  My next post will be my first thoughts about their product and how it will change my practice.

Post your thoughts or your own offseason plans. Utilize the offseason to have a great next season!

End of Season Stats Check. Did I Improve?

Fall is here, or should be here at least. We have unseasonably warm weather.  My goals were set for the end of October, so while I may squeak in a couple more rounds, I will review the conclusion to the season.

My original goal this season was to decrease my handicap to 14. I planned to spend 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week practicing.  I started around a 16 handicap, and I believed I could shave 2 strokes off my handicap.  As my mid-season report indicated, I failed to realize my handicap was artificially low due to older scores.  My most recent scores averaged between 18 and 20 index.  I revised my goal mid-season to get back to 15.8 where I started.  While I didn’t drop it to 15.8, I decreased my handicap from 17 to 16.2 since July!  I am on the right track!  I may not be at 15.8, but a declining handicap is what matters.

I set the number goal at the beginning of the year, but research indicates focusing on the number does not lead to success. Numbers are the measurement, but focusing on the process makes the most difference.  My most important goal was practicing 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. I hate to say it, but I didn’t meet that goal as often as I hoped.

30 minutes a day is harder than I anticipated. I know that sounds silly, but all my activities combined with exhaustion make adding more work in difficult.  However, I did meet the goal about half the time.  I did much better in the summer and right after my mid-season report.  I struggled more during the fall due to my teaching load.  However, I never went a week without practicing.  I completed a simulated practice or real round nearly every week.  I reached 4 days a week the vast majority of the time.  Rarely did I practice less than 3 days a week.  I know I didn’t reach the goal every week, but I practiced significantly more than before.  My stats show continuous effort with the decreasing handicap.

My stats illustrate my improvement and areas to continue to work on. Below are the stats from April:

Time Period Fairways GIRs Scrambling Putting
May 2015-April 2016 42% 17% 10% 1.9

 

The work paid off this summer in most areas. Here are my stats since I started my plan:

Time Period Fairways GIRs Scrambling Putting
April 2016-Present 59% 11% 25% 1.8

 

Fairways and scrambling dramatically increased. Playing from the short grass must inevitably lead to more GIRs.  While I missed more greens (down to 2 per round), I scrambled for par on 2.5 more holes per round.  Scrambling alone decreased my handicap to the 16.2.  My glaring weakness is still GIR, so I will continue to work on approach shots to score better.

My winter improvement and workout plan will begin shortly. As I think through the plan, I hope to set it up to include activities my family can get involved with to increase my chances of completing the daily tasks.  Come back in the next couple weeks to check out the winter plan.  Enjoy your last rounds of the year.