5 Tips for Taking Care of Your Body
Golf is both a mental and physical game, requiring skill, mental acuity, patience, mental toughness and strength. When it comes to being the best, you cannot expect to be at the top of your game if you do not take proper care of your body. Golfers should follow general guidelines to ensure proper care of the body, and experiment with types of diets and training programs to see what creates the best outcome for performance and meeting personal goals. In addition, the following five points will get you started on your way to the top of your game and beyond.
Before getting into what makes a junior golfer better through training, work in the gym, and nutrition, they need to understand that they are STUDENT- athletes. Student comes first. All of the course work that they complete in high school corresponds to their eligibility to play in college.
In May of 2016, the NCAA reported that 148,823 athletes played golf in high school. Out of the 148,823 participants, only 5.8% (8,654) of those junior golfers went on to play college golf and only 2.0% of the high school to college golfers play Division 1 (1.7% to Division 2; 2.1% to Division 3).
Education also helps in a person’s athletic development. In school, you are introduced to all different kinds of learning techniques. You will have visual lessons, auditory lessons (speaking/listening), reading and writing assignments, and kinesthetic activities. At IJGA, all of the students are exposed to all types of learning, not just at school but in golf and in the gym. Having development of these skills will help athletes acquire multiple skills that they will use in college, sport and in their chosen career.
With the ever-changing competitiveness in the sport of golf, an athlete must have the right nutritional foundation in order to achieve optimal performance. An athlete must know what type of nutrients they need to consume before, during and after training, practice, or competition. Listening to your coaches and trainers is important, but if you do not take care of your body the way you take care of your swing, it could hinder your performance and produce adverse effects.
Check out my previous article about the “Do’s and Don’ts of Golf Nutrition” to learn about strategies to fuel performance.
3. PHYSICAL TRAINING
It is very important in a junior golfer’s development to participate in some sort of physical training – whether it be physical education classes in school, personal training sessions with a professional trainer, or in a group setting with a strength and conditioning coach. At IJGA, students are tested through mobility screenings (TPI) and max effort functional lifts (back squat, deadlift and bench press). Our conditioning coach then creates group workouts that benefit all students, adding individual goals for each student to improve their posture, movement limitations, injury prevention, etc.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that teens get 9 ¼ hours of sleep per night, however, most will not come close to that number for many reasons (homework, afterschool activities, training, sports, social activities, etc.).
When we go to sleep, our bodies are at a high state of muscular hypertrophy. While we are sleeping, the muscles will be in full recovery and actually promote physical muscular growth and strength gains, as well as aid in injury prevention. A decrease in sleep can also lead to mental health issues such as depression, stress, anxiety and low self-esteem.
Not only does sleep affect a student’s academic and athletic performance, but a lack of sleep may lead to a greater risk of injury. In a study conducted with student-athletes at Harvard-Westlake School outside of Los Angeles, over 75% of participants reported getting less than 8 hours of sleep per night. During the 21-month period of the study, 57% of athletes reported injuries; 38% reported multiple injuries. Researchers noted that in this study, sleep was the greatest predictor in injury.
Tips for a good night’s sleep:
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
- Eat a healthy meal at night, about three hours before bed. This will aid in recovery while you sleep and ensure you are still getting proper nutrients while you sleep.
- Avoid caffeine. Did you know that caffeine is an NCAA banned substance? Caffeine is a stimulant, if concentrations are over 15 micrograms/ml, they are considered a performance enhancing substance and an athlete could receive a punishment if tested positive.
Proper precautions are needed to minimize the spread of communicable diseases and skin infections during athletic participation. Also, following good hygiene habits shows that you take care of your body and treat it like you would treat your training, with attention and detail.
The National Federation of State High School Associations suggest using the following “Universal Hygiene Protocol for All Sports”:
- Shower immediately after every competition and practice using liquid soap. Do not share a bar of soap.
- Do not wear dirty or soiled clothes more than once. Wash all workout clothing after each practice. Use hot water and dry clothes on high heat. This will ensure all bacteria is killed and will not spread from person to person.
- Clean and/or wash all personal gear (shoes, bags, gloves, hats, towels, etc.) weekly.
- Do not share any personal hygiene products like towels, razors, and washcloths.
Practicing good hygiene habits can reduce the risk of attracting the following:
- Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)
- Blood borne pathogens like HIV and Hepatitis B.
IJGA Director of Performance Training