In part I of this series I outlined the goal setting process and how I go about helping a player create a clear picture of where they want to go. Once we know where to go we now need to have an accurate representation of where the player is starting.

Where are you now?

In order to reach any destination you must know your starting point. Does the player currently have the tools required to get to where they want to go? If not, what do they need? In this phase data are collected that we will use as a base line and refer back to throughout the process. These data will be the platform on which the various training aspects of the program are built.

As the team at the Titleist Performance Institute have said many times “If you don’t test, it’s a guess”. Thus we will use some or all of the following tools to assess the player and get an accurate evaluation of the player’s strengths and weaknesses.

Ball flight is where I always start. It is critical to know what control the player has over their ball flight. Can they hit the shots they need to attain their goals? What shots of the 9 possible ball flights can they hit with control and with which ones do they have trouble. The 9 ball flights are:

Fade, high flight Straight, high flight Draw, high flight
Fade, middle flight Straight, middle flight Draw, middle flight
Fade, low flight Straight, low flight Draw, low flight

I have heard Hank Haney say many times in his annual Teach the Teacher seminar that “Distance dictates potential”, so I assess whether the player can hit the ball the required distance to achieve their goals. Depending on the players goals they are probably going to need to be able hit the ball a minimal distance in order to carry hazards or reach greens in regulation.

Short GameThe ability to strike the ball with control is only one aspect of what is required to score well. I will use a short game test that was designed by Dave Pelz to test players on their putting, chipping, pitching and bunker play. Each test involves 10 balls to a target with scores given based on results. A handicap is then assigned based on the scoring on the designated test. This test allows me to see exactly which shots are strong and which are weak within the player’s short game, and thus the areas that require more focus than others.

Video and 3D Swing AnalysisWatching a player hit balls on the range, observing their swing motion and forming an opinion on what is producing the observed ball flight is only the starting point for analyzing swing motion. As stated earlier, this entire process is grounded in collecting accurate initial data so that the best plan possible can be put in place, along with having a reference for checking future improvements.

The best system available for capturing critical movements during the golf swing, is a 3D swing analysis system by the Golf Biodynamics (GBD). This is the one I use with my players.

The GBD system allows us to measure in six degrees of freedom, a player’s swing to within one degree and one millimeter. Thus I can definitively record body motions, angles, rotations, speeds and kinematic sequence. Once the data are collected I will go through the report with the player and compare it back to the video taken of the same swing to highlight the causes of the undesired ball flight and the areas that must be addressed in order to improve ball flight. The report is then kept on file so that in the future we can collect more swings on the GBD system and assess progress as well as define what the next priorities on the process will be.

Physical ScreeningBefore we can ask a player to make changes to their swing motion it is critical to know if they can physically make the swing motion that is required for them to reach their goals. To complete this assessment we use a screening process developed by Michael Dalgleish from The Golf Athlete, called The Ten Test on Range Screening. This screening allows our team physical therapist to test the player in ten key areas, assign them a score in each area and thus a total score for the test. The physical therapist can then assign an exercise program around any deficiencies as well as focus on the areas that the coach sees as critical to achieving the long term goals of the player.

Every four to six weeks, the player will be reassessed to check for progress and to upgrade the exercise program where necessary. We are very conscious that the exercise program is kept to 15 to 20 minutes in length, and is completed three times per week.

Using this screening process it is very easy for us to track the player’s physical progress and record it alongside their technical progress.

Rounds AnalysisHaving a player who is making improvements technically and physically is great, if their performance on the golf course is not also improving then we are in trouble! I use My Golf Game Plan  with my students so that they can track key statistics from their on course play and I can also “see” the player’s progress. This system allows me to set goals for the player in each statistical category which fits in perfectly with the performance goals that were set earlier.

Annual PlanOnce all the data are collected and the goals have been set, I will then load all the pertinent information into the student’s Annual Plan. The Annual Plan will map out monthly key statistical goals so that the player can look at their results at the end of each month and check their progress. It also serves as a tool for the coach in that if monthly goals are not being attained a discussion about why and what needs to be done to keep the player moving in the right direction towards their long term goal must be had.

In my next post I will discuss how I go about implementing such a plan and reveal the amazing results I and my team have achieved with my students over the past few years.

I hope you enjoyed this post. As always comments are welcome and appreciated.

Good Golfing


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