by Shawn Mehring, IJGA Director of Performance Training
When giving thanks to your body this November, think about what can make you the best version of yourself, inside and out. Follow general guidelines to ensure proper care of your body, and experiment with types of learning, diets, and training programs, to see which best fits your personal goals and what creates the best outcome for your performance. The following five points will outline what you can do to get yourself 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). Just to put into perspective, In 2014, it was reported that only 68.4% of all high school students enrolled in college following their senior year.
If a junior golfer is wanting to play Division 1 or Division 2 athletics, they need to register through the NCAA Eligibility Center to see if they have met amateurism standards and are prepared, academically, for college course work. If the proper course work is not completed, or an athletes grades are not up to institutional minimums, that can affect the division level they play in, athletic scholarship offer, academic scholarship offer, and if they are even eligible to play at all in collegiate athletics.
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 the types of learning, not just at school but at 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 find out strategies to fuel performance.
3. PHYSICAL TRAINING
Training 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 trainer, or in a group setting with a strength and conditioning coach like we do at IJGA. Although there are many specific drills, exercises, and programs out there to improve a golfers ability to improve performance the main goals of physical activity, for all individuals, is to
- Control weight
- Reduce risk of cardiovascular disease-The number one cause of death in the United States.
- Reduce risk of type 2 diabetes
- Reduce risk of some cancers
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Here at IJGA, the students are tested through mobility screenings (TPI) and max effort functional lifts (back squat, deadlift, and bench press). I then create group workouts that benefit all students, and then add in individual goals to each student to improve their posture, movement limitations, injury prevention, etc.
- Improve you mental health and mood
- Exercise has been proven to reduce stress and create positive self-esteem.
- Improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent injuries
- Increase your chances of living longer.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that teens get 9 ¼ hours of sleep per night, however we all know that most teens will not come close to that number for many reasons (homework, afterschool activities, training, sports, social activities, etc.)
When you sleep, your body is a high state of muscular hypertrophy. While you are sleeping the muscle will be in full recovery and actually promote physical muscular growth, strength gains, and aid in injury prevention. A decrease in sleep can also lead to mental health issues, like 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 for 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 the same time every day, even on weekends.
- Eat a large 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 micro-grams/ml, and considered a performance enhancing substance and an athlete could receive a punishment if tested positive.
Proper precautions are needed to minimize the risk of the spread of communicable diseases and skin infections during athletic participation. Also, having 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”:
- Show immediately after every competition and practice. Using liquid soap and not a share 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 wash cloths.
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.