I'm finally catching up at my desk for other tasks than programming after the whirlwind of the start of the off season. I’m so thankful for being able to coach and the beauty of this journey. This summer for example, I really enjoyed observing some of my students and was fortunate to have seen them play LIVE at the Ladies European Tour Big Green Egg Open, Dutch National Championships and National Open.
When I’m at tournaments, I love to take these moments as opportunities to connect, to be of service and to scout. These are also the days where I get to see alumni, meet the caddies & families, listen to stories from the organisation or other coaches and take in the competitive
But above all, I’m there for my students. For Team High Performance. I monitor progression, evaluate personal body-mind-game KPI’s and provide support before or after the round if need be.
I wanted to highlight this specific moment I captured with my Fuji camera.
This specific downhill lie shot demonstrates the incredible athletic capacity present in the lower body. What we see is Fleur van Beek her powerful transition into impact, the moment her weight shifts and loads into the left hip (internal rotation), while using the full thoracic and shoulder range of motion without compensating for the lower back. A shot like that also requires huge amounts of rotary strength from the core. This entails that her core-lower back area is actually stable and used as a coil that transfers power. Yet the core isn't rigid, nor is it very loose.
This shot ended up being the money shot. It left Fleur just short of a birdie on a long par 5 at De Noordwijkse during the Dutch National Open.
Over the past off-season, we layered her strong existing athletic foundation by optimising ankle mobility and foot stability. For these new patterns to be ingrained, it took daily quality effort of doing toe, foot and ankle exercises with bands. (working from the ground up will always be beneficial) We took the added awareness of how she stands and moves outside the gym, onto the course and swing and so she was constantly reinforcing her daily movement into new patterns. It was all about muscle memory.
We also focused a big element of the winter-pre-season training program of 2022 on upper body mobility. And specifically creating a fluid range of motion from the thoracic spine and shoulders while lowering tension and use of the lower back and traps. This entailed improving shoulder mobility, scapular stability and making the prime movers not have to do the work of the stabilisers as this was trending in the reverse direction.
There were clear signs and tests confirming the need for this team approach. During training we also made use of biofeedback and integrated other essential markers that are usually overlooked. We worked on the nervous system. We did breath-work. We matched the breath on top of and during the corrective exercise because that’s where you get a 2 for 1. We looked at optimising recovery through learning how to more efficiently regulate stress, especially during peak tournaments. We dumped tension. We invited homeostasis. And now, september 2022, we're at the start of a new chapter again.
An (overlooked) element I believe is crucial in whether or not the programmed (corrective) exercises would generate long term success is communication. And this is something I take very seriously. It really matters how and with what intention an athlete receives information about the physical abilities of their body. How we (coaches, parents, supporters) frame things makes a difference. Athletes will connect the dots, and they might not always be the most accurate ones. So we've got communicate mindfully.
The depth, detail and way of communication also depends on the maturity of the athlete, emotional intelligence and overall state of body-mind. (Hence, investing in a coach-student relationship is important) But better safe than sorry, because in the end we’re all just human beings with a system that is wired primarily to keep us safe.
What this could entail is: be precise about the test results. Provide some words of comfort and compassion. This immediately decreases tension and helps to deactivate the sympathetic nervous system which we need for re-establishing movement patterns. (Try adding new stress to an already stressed fearful system, it won’t work). Be clear about nuances, bring perspective, paint the end result, demonstrate confidence in your ability to help them through it. Adding nuance is the biggest win in my experience. Most athletes think in black and white. They think, evaluate and label in binary ways and having the ability to assess the reality in grey areas isn't always immediately available to them.
What I want you to leave with is this: all the golf specifics matter. But as long as we keep neglecting the foundation (stress, sleep, environment, lifestyle, breathing, communication) we'll simply end up building more dysfunction on top of golf-specific performance markers. Golfing athletes need both.
It was a fruitful, rewarding and challenging season and I feel grateful for being able to provide the space, structure and guidance, especially when my students need it the most. At the High Performance Team we endured many things this year - heartache, victory, redemption, setbacks, comebacks, wins and losses. One thing all students shared in common: they showed up and stepped up! They had the courage to believe in what is greater than them and all of it provides a springboard for what is ahead.
At Team High Performance we are passionate about the journey. We’re into achieving a clear big goal of the future yes, but we’re equally here to make every moment towards that vision enjoyable, insightful, one full of learning & growth & connection & presence & empowerment.
While social media is fantastic for showing the most beautifully curated moments, we rarely show the raw, real, emotional ones. The position I'm in allows me to witness all of it. I have a pretty big emotional connection to my craft, also making me feel a rush of emotions after major events. It's a sense of completion, relief, sadness, happiness, accomplishment, joy and inspiration. This craftsmanship is a calling and a very fortunate humbling way of being, living, giving and receiving. You don’t coach to high performances just with strength & conditioning skills, TPI certifications or yoga poses. You bring to the art of coaching all the lessons you have learned, the hardships encountered, your own personality and story, the people you have loved, the places you have been, your presence, the science & philosophies you have studied, the challenges overcome and above all the vision of the future of your student.
The continued process of building a community around Team High Performance is the start of a dream come true and I've got big plans on the horizon. The team is expanding & flourishing in many ways. Our students are the kind that go the distance and it shows! They are out there every single session training with heart, having fun & optimising focus, flow & form. The anticipation for the bright future ahead is real & it especially ignites my fire because Team High Performance is quickly becoming one of the most resilient, athletic & durable ones out there!
Motivated juniors, student-athletes and aspiring & current tour players from across the globe can apply for a chance to join Team High Performance for 1:1 coaching & tailor made programming.
Before I close off, I want to thank each and everyone who rooted for Team High Performance! You see what you see online. The reality though is that there's an incredible team behind each of these athletes as well as unwavering support from family who all make sure they are able to do what they love everyday. I hope I was able to provide some context too with this story and the shot that I highlighted and that it was valuable for you to read about that. Thank you to the supporters and this community for believing in what we’re doing and rooting for Team High Performance! It takes a village.
Now it’s time for building a new chapter.
And it has already begun.
More to come.
I’m eager for the ’22-23 season for many reasons. But one that I am extremely excited for is to work along side the flourishing growing High Performance stable and build for a successful season ahead. Interested in applying for a spot on Team High Performance? Fill out your application HERE.
What are some of your most memorable golf moments this season and why? Dm me.