The Fatigue Factor During Play

Do you ever play a round of golf where the wheels seem to start falling off around the 14th or 15th hole? Are you starting to hit shots  thin AND heavy? Is your direction off?  Distance shrinking?  You start to wonder what’s happening with your swing, what’s going wrong and then you say to yourself, “it’s lost…my swing is gone!”  Well, here’s the good news…your swing is not lost, in fact it never left you! It could simply be that you’re tired and you don’t realize it. Even though golf is not a sport where you chase a ball to hit it or hit a moving ball and then run, it can be very taxing both physically and mentally. When fatigue sets in, the body conserves energy. The larger muscle groups start to work less and the arms and hands start to take over. After all, we’re doing our best to make the ball go from point A to point B and finally to the bottom of the cup in the fewest number of strokes possible. What we find however, is that we’re starting to have more shots than what is typical, the quality of the shots have diminished and the bottom of the cup seems a bit elusive. Oh, and all the holes seem to get longer and longer. Recognizing that you’re getting tired is not always obvious and our first “go to” reason for missed shots is that something is wrong with our swing. If you first understand what is likely to happen to YOUR swing when you get tired, you’ll be more likely to notice when the fatigue factor is starting to infiltrate your game. Most people, when tired, stop turning. They also tend to stand up early through the shot and start hitting it thin. The reason? The body, when conserving energy, likes to do things that are easy. If you stand up nice and tall and all your weight is positioned over your hips and knees and feet, the body says, “ahhhhh……this is much easier than bending from the hips and standing in a golf posture.” Golf posture takes more effort with the abdominals, hips, glutes, lower back etc.  So the quicker you get out of that the better. The body likes to get to this less taxing posture as quickly as possible because it takes less energy. During a swing, this could mean a topped shot. As for turning and loading…it takes more energy to turn the chest, shoulders and arms in the backswing than it does “just the arms” so when fatigue is setting in, the arms take over during the swing, and when this happens, direction and distance are compromised.  When fatigue is a factor, for whatever the reason, the results of play are very likely to be, higher scores than what’s typical, shots that are less than desirable, and maybe a visit to a hazard or two. So what can you do to combat fatigue? One thing to do is to be smart with your time before the round.  Pre-round range time should really be warm up time not “practice for an hour or so in order to work on something” time.  You want to warm up your swing, spend a bit of time pitching and chipping and find your way to the putting green for putting. If you arrive hours before to practice, you really have to consider the energy you just spent at the range and how it will affect your overall play for the day, because it will. Another thing you want to do is  to make sure you hydrate and fuel up before and during your round. Electrolytes over water is always a recommendation and complex carbs for sustained energy gives you a good base. You also want to have some good brain food mixed in to your snacks as well. We want to have the best mental acuity while playing, so protein is great…peanut butter and apple, nuts and dried fruit and any other brainy treats you can stash in the golf bag. If you wait to long before refueling, the body won’t be able to access the energy the food provides, so eat early and eat often, you’ll be surprised at how your energy level improves. And last but not least, if you’ve had a long week, been out the night before and you have an early morning tee time, this might be the day you ride instead of walk. You might also want to reset the expectations you may have had on breaking your personal best that day. Just relax and enjoy being out on the course with your friends, take in the beauty and be thankful that you get to play the most amazing game on earth.

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About Cathy

I am an LPGA Class A teaching professional with more than 20 years of experience. I've recently been selected as a Golf Channel Academy Coach. I have been listed as one of the best teachers in the country by Golf for Women Magazine, best teacher in state by Golf Digest and been nominated to the prestigious Top 100 Teacher list by Golf Digest. I offer whole game improvement plans and strategies that will help you achieve your goals. Whether you have a single digit handicap or you are just a beginner, I will help guide you to your success by creating a learning environment that is completely unique to you! I am one of only 30 people in the country certified by the Golf Coaches Association. I use V1, FlightScope and Boditrak technology.
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