Brendan Miller is an Athletic Trainer at the Orthopedic Institute of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and owner of B. Miller Golf Performance. He is a graduate of the Advanced Golf Performance Program at PennWest California (Pennsylvania).
Golf is one of the most intricate sports out there. In its simplest form, we can break it down into four pillars: physical, technical, tactical and psychological. These pillars are how we play, learn, teach and advance. The four pillars are the foundation for many more topics that bear weight on the mainstays, and that solid foundation in each is vital for our golf game to flourish. Although each pillar is separate, we can make connections between them.
It is easy to see how enhancing your physical pillar can optimize your swing, making you more mobile, balanced and stronger. As we look at the psychological pillar, numerous topics of mental training can help in the tactical pillar. For instance, a sound pre-shot routine can help pick optimal targets for your next shot. However, what’s the connection between the physical and the psychological?
I will take a golfer through mobility, stability and resistance training in a typical session. The exercise selection may vary depending on the time of year and what training phase the athlete is in. Still, some form of exercise typically resembles the movement pattern of a golf swing, whether it is backswing, downswing, impact position, speed training, etc. I like using resistance bands, cables or medicine balls for these workouts.
During these exercises, connecting the physical and psychological pillars can be very effective. In fact, one of the most significant ways I accomplish this is through visualization of the golf swing. I like to think things happen to us twice, first mentally and then physically. If we can imagine good golf shots during reps of exercises that resemble the swing, we are bound to have more confidence when we step up to the ball out on the course. In a session, we can implement whatever activity the client is working on with a coach, such as ball striking or shot shape. I have them imagine the desired outcome of a good ball strike or desired shot shape, making it seem as authentic as possible while completing a physical exercise designed to make them more mobile, stable and stronger.
Confidence building is another mental training skill that we can implement through our time with the athlete. When done effectively, we see them getting stronger, hitting the ball farther and feeling better during their rounds. These traits already present a considerable confidence boost without saying a word. This increased confidence affects the golfer mentally on the course, resulting in lower scores and more enjoyment in the game. We should celebrate their increase in strength when you notice they grab more weight or the workout gets more manageable. Help them trust the process, and the results will show.
The process of becoming a better golfer resides in more than just practicing or training physically. It requires learning and preparing in more than one facet of the game, and when there are crossovers between these pillars, it produces more quality time together. Find ways to implement mental training skills during physical training sessions, such as visualization, confidence building, goal-setting, attitude and expectations management. The opportunity to create a better golfer is what all of us strive for, and giving them all the necessary tools makes that job easier.