Last week I discussed periodization and its importance in developing an annual training and tournament plan so you can guide the development of your golf skills and confidence towards playing your best golf at the most important times in the year.
You may recall that in one of my examples I used a 3 month stretch from October to December on the Australasian Tour when the prize money for a number of events was significant.
The key to remember is that you determine the reasons why you want to play your best at certain times in the year. It is naive to think that you will have your 'A' game throughout the year. No golfer can maintain a low score average every week of the year. The idea is to develop the ability to reduce your high score average and this is easier to do with a well constructed training and tournament plan.
Take a look at the image (above) of Rory McIlroy's score variation leading up to the last event in the Fex Ex Cup play offs. His highest score in the 50 rounds he played on the PGA Tour was 79 and his lowest was 64 a difference of 15 strokes!
Golf Performance Prediction
Whether you’re a professional tour golfer or elite amateur golfer the idea behind periodization of your season is to effectively manage your skill development (mental and physical) within a defined time frame by predicting performance outcomes in key events.
Tiger Woods has on more than one occasion stated that he builds his year around golf’s Major Championships:
Tiger plays golf tournaments around these important events in the calendar only to gauge his playing skills leading into the event so that he can make the necessary adjustments to his game to be primed and ready for each major event.
In the image below I've constructed a calendar of the tournaments he played including the major championships. I've placed a peaking guide to help you to understand the macro view of your tournament schedule.
The Macro Cycle
A macro cycle refers to your annual golf training and tournament plan (Like the one above) and helps you to prepare for the important tournaments in your golf season.
Now in Tiger Woods’s case he wants to peak at least four times within the year (possibly 5 with Fed Ex Cup Playoffs) which is described in advanced training theory as a multi-cycle (more than one peak in the year).
PGA and LPGA tour golfers carefully choose the events they want to play in a season as their experience tells them that the course style and overall environment is extremely important to them. These positive environments give them confidence to feel like they can play their best.
The Preparation Phase
To drive your performances towards peak performance you need to plan your training stages carefully and the way we teach our students at Pro Tour Golf College to do this is by introducing the following three management phases into their golf planning process.
These phases help to take the big picture look at your golf season and break it down into more manageable periods and they will help you to form the groundwork of effort you will apply to raise your golfing ability so you can perform optimally when it matters most to you.
The preparation phase is normally 2/3 to 3/4 of the macro cycle and in this phase you spend a large amount of your time improving and refining your technical skills so you can take them confidently into your important golf tournaments.
The preparation phase is additionally split into general and specific preparation of which the general preparation segment takes over half (see below). An example of general preparation for an elite golfer could be a specific change to your golf swing technique to improve your start line capability.
An example of specific preparation (what we call the targeting mode) would be working on improving the consistency of your ball flight and spin control in short and long game, by measuring the quality of 3 factors;
The general preparation phase in Tiger's case would more than likely be from October through to January where he would shift into specific preparation phase through January leading into his first event on the PGA Tour - The AT & T Pebble Beach Pro Am.
This tournament will help Tiger and his swing coach Sean Foley to determine what adjustments to his game he needs to make to boost his performances through February and March leading into April and the first major; The US Masters golf tournament.
The Competition Phase
The competition phase of your annual training and tournament plan is a difficult and challenging period depending on the amount of tournaments you're playing in. Managing your performances during this period really is a result of how well you trained in your general and specific preparation phases. (We'll discuss how you manage it my next article)
The competition phase is further broken into pre-tournament and tournament phases because in the case of golf there are groups of tournament periods throughout the year that require rest periods and pre-tournament preparation periods in between.
This is a careful juggling act that requires a lot of thought and careful planning to maximize the timing to fully prepare yourself for the main tournaments in your tournament calendar.
The Transition Phase
The transition phases are the recovery and restoration phases where you take a break from the physical and psychological effort over the previous weeks and months.
Because of the intensity of training and tournament golf you need to rest to give your mind and body a chance to recover completely. Without adequate rest you leave yourself susceptible to injury.
The periodization model below has been constructed to help you to understand how a world class golfer like Tiger Woods could use a periodization model to help him to prepare more effectively for major tournaments. Interestingly, Tiger didn't win the US Masters in 2012 he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational two weeks before!
So peaking is not an exact science however in our opinion elite amateur and professional golfers could do worse than having an annual plan that is periodized to manage the work that will take place throughout the year. The fact that you plan for success puts you way ahead of the other golfers who just play from tournament to tournament.
In the third part of my series next week I will show you how to plan and build your weekly training programs so they fit neatly into your training phases which is a very important step in the process.
Again, thanks for taking the time to read our blog, David and I appreciate your support and hope you'll share our blog with your friends on Facebook and elsewhere.
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College
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