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Raising Stars

star

Stars shine brightly in our night sky, they have been known to guide people to their destination, and they are ‘cosmic energy engines’ according to National Geographic, their luminosity makes them stand out. Stars come in many sizes just like our human stars.

Raising a human star, a child who is destined for great things  in sport, academics, music or fine arts can be both challenging and joyous – just like raising any kid you say?

The passion that our human stars have for their chosen field can sometimes lead to burnout.

As parents how do we help them keep their spark, balance their social lives, school requirements, work and their passion?

I am in the privileged position of being able to look back on a recently completed VCE now that my 19-year-old daughter finished year 12. We got through it as a family. Her passion was for academics and leadership and her zest for life a whirlwind of energy. The problem was she never switched off. She has always seemed to have a stop and go button and nothing in between. Relaxation is doing a HIT workout and breaking a sweat. Chilling on the couch is for lazy people.

Her body presented major challenges in the last three years of her schooling and really crashed in the last four months of year 12. She suffers from a rare nerve condition that sometimes takes out a whole suite of her nerves, rendering her unable to use her hands. This was the challenge in August 2018 when she lost complete use of her right hand and fingers. Coming into the main part of the VCE year somewhat disabled, with loads of SACS, plus exam prep, for a girl who was completely study focused was devastating. For years my wife and I had been having conversations with her about deep rest, slowing her adrenals, finding balance and then suddenly it was forced upon her. Her body just gave up. It wasn’t just her hand, but her neck, her energy, and even her brain due to the powerful medication she was on, didn’t work properly. Of course there were also the endless visits to specialists, physio, exercise physiologist, myotherapist appointments, but that was just par for the course. The emotional tragedy of her body collapsing just when she needed it most was heartbreaking for all. She knew what she wanted to do in life, and was pumped to get the ATAR that would get her entry to the dietetics course at La Trobe – we just had to work out how to support her to get there. Anyway, that’s another whole essay. But, for you, as parents of stars, it is important to help your kids achieve balance – whatever that may be. We all struggle with this but as adults we have the life experience and can pull ourselves into the bigger picture to help them work through these challenges.

So, how to balance?

It’s all about scheduling, and scheduling for relaxation and down time, is just as important as diarising competition events, and part time jobs.

What I like to see in a balanced schedule is:

  • Meditation
  • School work
  • Exercise for fun
  • Passion activity
  • Down time – doing nothing. Yes nothing.
  • Catching up with friends

A nice smattering of each of these will keep their mind healthy and their star burning brightly.

Being so close to your star is often a hard gig, especially when teenagers don’t like to listen to their parents. I understand this, sometimes the help they need comes from others; coaches, their best friend’s parents or even performance psychologists! Perhaps passing this article on to your star may help them re-assess their time.  Good luck and may your star shine brightly.

What Golfer do you want to be?

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Who is the golfer you most want to be? Tom Watson, with a quick rhythm, fearless putter in his younger years, respectful. Fred Couples, laconic, easygoing, long swing, care free. Seve, swashbuckling, creative, flair, passionate.

As a young player I remember watching Jerry Pate on TV with my dad in the International Pro Celebrity Challenge with Lee Trevino. I loved Pate’s swing and how he handled himself on the course. I wanted to be Jerry Pate. I had his swing in mind when I won my first comp at my home club and I followed it quickly with 2 other wins in the space of a week.

Since that time I have realized that I play my best golf when I visualize a swing that I want to replicate. It works even better if a certain feeling went with that, Pate’s was of a particular rhythm.  My Curtis Strange phase was a forward press, slight sway going back and upright finish facing the target. Nowadays, as time passes and the body feels different Fred Couples rhythm is a good one for me to remember.

What player do you have in mind when you play your best?

 

How do You practice golf?

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How do You practice golf? If you have a regular job, with a family your time would be limited. Play on the weekend, practice after work one night a week in winter if you are lucky.

Do you go to the range and hit a bucket or 3? Is that helping you improve? Most likely not. Tee it up, hit it, tee it up again, hit it.

Ask yourself honestly what would improve your golf game?

I know for me at the moment my putting needs to improve to shoot lower scores. I need to make more putts in the 6 to 12 foot range. Tour pros make around 65% of putts from 6 feet and 30% from 10 to 15 feet. I make around 20% from 6 feet and less than 10% outside of that.

So my plan is 3 fold to improve my putting

  1. check in with my coach to see that my technique is sound.
  2. work on my mindset – yes even a psychologist can improve on this.
  3. work on some practice drills on the putting green to help in this range – the Spieth/McCormack gateway drill is a good one i have seen recently.

What is your plan for improvement? Contact me to book in for a Performance session.

Major Turnaround

spieth cardJordan Spieths win in the British Open was remarkable given he lead by 2, lost the lead shooting 4 over for the first 13 holes including nearly a total wipeout on the 13th hole.

It would have been very easy for him to think he wasn’t his day and just go through the motions the last few holes. But he was able to turn things around in the most dramatic fashion, birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie to shoot 5 under for the last 5 holes.

How did he manage such a remarkable turn around. To do this he would have needed to change his mindset, sounds simple but diffficult to do when you are 4 over for the day and no longer leading the British Open. I think we can see how he achieved it in 2 instances. When he hit it far right on 13 he took a long time to take a drop, one because I think he was trying to figure out the best line but also he was trying to re set. The re set occurred initially physiologically. The getting up and down the dunes changed his physiology which changed his mindset. Golfers haven’t traditionally done this but getting your heart rate up, doing star jumps or quick sprints will change your physiology and open a window to change your mindset. The second was when he holed the eagle putt on 15. He directed his caddie to get the ball out of the hole, another indicator or a mindset change, he felt he was on a roll and didn’t want to stop the momentum.

If you are having a bad day, it can be really difficult to turn it around. How do others achieve this?

Sergio

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I love watching the Masters, i have every year since 1984. It is an amazing tournament that continues to produce incredible moments that you remember for a long time. Jacks 1986 shot on 16, Tigers chip in on 16, Phil’s shot from behind the tree on 13, Scotty’s putt on 10. i could go on and on.

Sergio Garcia’s win this year was fantastic on so many levels – first major win after coming so close over many years; on Seve’s 60th birthday, his hero and that he became the 3rd Spaniard to win a green jacket. I think the thing that stood out for me was Sergio talking in Butler Cabin after his win and saying how he felt the calmest he has ever felt in a major. All this when the pressure probably was at its highest. He said he used to think that Augusta would one day bring him a major but then he had so many poor rounds that he felt uncomfortable and couldn’t win there anymore.

But then he realised Augusta would take from him and give back as well and once he became at peace with that then he would win. There are so many gifts in that for all of us

  • resilience
  • belief against all odds
  • coming to peace with yourself on and off the course
  • calmness and its role in high performance.

Sergio is 38. He has been on our radar for a long time and has been the best player to have never won a major for a long time. He is still now in the prime of his golfing years now with one major under his belt. Who knows how many more he now might win. I hope a lot more.

Teaching an old dog new tricks.

I have played golf since I was 12 years old. Prior to that I caddied for my dad, and I fondly remember pulling his bag early on a Sunday morning sweeping the dew off the ground. Having played golf for 30 + years, read many books and articles on golf and been around some top level players I think I know golf pretty well.

That is why I am amazed but also reinvigorated that when I had a lesson last week(my first in about 20 years), that what I thought I needed to do to hit the ball better and longer was the complete opposite of what I needed to do. I felt like George Constanza –  if every thought you have is wrong then if I do the complete opposite I should be right!!

My thinking prior to the lesson was based on many Golf Digest articles and the study of Rory, Tiger and Adam that I needed to create more club head speed by loading my wrists, creating “lag” and delaying the release of the club. However it seems I am loading and lagging so much I don’t release the club at all. Doh!!

My thoughts then turned to Anders Ericsson. Who? Anders is the expert on experts. Malcolm Gladwell penned the famous 10,000 hour rule from his research. However the more important and crucial stuff in his research is that of deliberate practice – the how of practice that accelerates performance. Feedback is crucial, often from a coach who can see what you can’t. Building on this feedback from your crucial is crucial to performance improvement.

I am excited by having a new goal to work towards in my golf and look forward to hours of deliberate practice that i will need to put in to reach improvement. It will remind me of the hours I used to spend on the range as a kid and perhaps the old dog will learn some new tricks.peak

Tennis anyone?

tennisAs The 2017 Summer of Tennis takes off the first scandal has hit the papers. Two young Australian players are caught up in match fixing scandal.

It is another example of the modern world and all its trappings impacting something we hold dear – sport and integrity. I can’t help think there will be more to come along with further challenges to the publics mindset around young people and sport. It will be fascinating to watch how the Australian public cope with Nick Kyrgios this summer. He challenges our assumptions of what it means to be a young talented sportsperson with natural gifts. We have for years accepted the larrikins, in many cases celebrated them. Ian Chappell to Dane Swan. But this new breed of sports person who openly says they could take it or leave it and would prefer to play basketball will be a whole new challenge. I watch with interest as to how we react.