Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tiger Woods' Coach on Balance

You can't play sports well if you are tipping over!  Sounds common sensical but few of us really ponder the notion that balance plays a foundational role in improving our performance at sports.  I am seeing this notion of balance pop up both physically and mentally in some of our great sports players.

Take Golf.  Sean Foley, one of Tiger Woods' coaches, has a coaching philosophy grounded in biomechanics and Zen.  He emphasizes balance as key to improving your game.  You don't want to do anything to disturb your balance.  Most people hit the ball way too hard and throw their balance off.  The key to improving your game is not to hit the ball hard but to give more speed to the ball.  Your golf form has a lot to do with this.   In this video, Foley emphasizes the importance of strengthening your core and legs to improve balance.  Your feet have to be connected to the ground, you need to use your legs, torso and arms in a good sequence.

In his drills, you're left side is looking for its center of balance.  You are working on proprioception and knowing where your body is in an unstable environment.

Foley is also big on mental balance as well. In his interview describing his coaching philosophy for Tiger Woods:

It's a minimalist approach. I remember reading in Mike Hebron's book, "The Art and Zen of Learning Golf," it says there are things that you cause to happen and things that you allow to happen. When you start trying to cause what's already allowed to happen, you're going to run into problems. There's a catalyst to certain things that you build in the backswing, and in the downswing there are things that are a catalyst to what happens in the through swing.

“You don’t really show Stephen Ames or Tiger Woods what to do,” says Foley, who made no secret of wanting to coach Woods and got the chance this year. “You paint a picture for them in their mind and they practise it until they feel it in their bodies.” 

So, we are looking at a mental balance as well.    A kind of open focus,  if you will, where you are giving up control and giving up forcing your body to do something in favor of an awareness.

Sean Foley Golf Channel Tip on Balance | Golf Progress
PGA Tour Interview With Tiger Woods
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