Dave you’ve been working with high-level athletes in a multiple sports for many years.
Q. What experience did you gain working with athletes and sports outside a golf that you can now parlay onto improving the performance of your golfer athletes?
A. Over the past 15 years I have been fortunate enough to work with some amazing athletes and teams and I continue to do so. I love the cross over effect between sports and an athletes skills and compensation patterns.Take for instance baseball and golf; they both use rotational force, one against a moving object and the other a stationary one. While golf has more of a speed/accuracy component, there are similarities. What I observed during my years working with baseball players I have been able to use with my golfers. I enjoy solving the jig saw puzzle and no matter the sport or athletes I’m working with the goal remains the same: optimal movement, without restriction or compensation.
Q. Your athlete Adam Scott recently won the 2013 Masters championship congratulations on the success of your athlete.
A. Yes! It was exciting and it was definitely a highlight for me but at the end of the day, it’s his win. My job is to get him to the first tee healthy, moving freely and ready to perform at his best. What he does on the course is all his doing. He played really well all week and it was great to see all his hard work over the years come together to fulfill his dream.
It appears that Adam has changed the philosophy behind his playing schedule. Can you explain what Adam is doing now on his off weeks that might be different from what he’s done in the past to prepare for the major championships and other larger tournaments compared to when he played more tournaments in a calendar schedule?
Essentially, the team has planned and scheduled all of the training, practice and preparation around the top 5 tournaments of the year: The 4 majors (Masters, US Open, British Open, PGA Championship) and the Players Championship. Everything he is doing is geared towards preparing for those events. In the past, trying to prepare for the big events while playing a normal schedule was difficult. There was never enough time to make changes, introduce new exercise or train hard without impacting his play in the other events. With this limited schedule, we now have time during the off weeks to train twice a day, spend more time practicing and preparing his body. It allows him to show up to the big events in his best form. After each big event, we reassess, make any necessary changes and move forward.
Q. Can you describe a typical off week schedule for a player like Adam?
A. Adam and Nick are both extremely talented athletes. While they excel at golf, they are true athletes that are good at number of different sports. They enjoying training hard off the course as much as they enjoying playing, so we spend a good amount of time woring on their movement and cross training activities. Since it’s not possible to train hard during tournament weeks, they both take advantage of his their off weeks as much as possible. Adam uses the off weeks to push himself and train as hard as he can. Most days, he’ll do 2 sessions in the gym, focusing on exercises that are specific to his body. We vary the routine every few weeks to keep him in top shape. He also loves to ride, surf and play tennis.
Q. How much of your normal off week day working with an athlete like Nick Watney or Adam Scott is spent performing body work, movement pattern training, prehab/ rehab, performance training?
A. Each week varies. While we design a master plan, it has to be flexible so that we can adapt to what each day brings. Typically, we do 2-3 sessions per week of body work. Ideally, they do their movement based program 4-5 times per week and 2-3 recovery/regeneration sessions per week. Add in any other activities (cycling, surfing, tennis, etc) plus the golf practice and you can see how these guys stay pretty busy!
Q. How does your program prescription change throughout the year? (off season, in season, championship season)
A. With both Adam and Nick we have break the in season into 4 blocks (based around the majors) and then there is the off season. Nick is a little harder to manage because he plays more tournaments so we train harder at the start and end of the year. The middle of the year is stacked with tournaments so we have to be careful with the intensity and volume of the program. The philosophy for both athletes remains the same throughout the year: use whatever tools you can at that particular time to get the desired result.
Q. What are some of the more common injury patterns you see with golfers and what would you recommend an aspiring professional do to minimize these types of problems?
A. Knock on wood, I have been fortunate not to have any athletes drop out of a tournament or take time off due to an injury!!! In all seriousness though, this has to do with proper preparation and maintenance. My job is to keep my athletes healthy so that they can perform at their best. From my 10 years on the Tour, I have observed many pro golfers suffering from back, hip & shoulder pain. Too often I see swing coaches trying to get golfers to perform things that they physically cannot do. It’s not rocket science, it’s actually quite simple. Physical capability dictates technical skill. For an aspiring pro golfer, I recommend finding someone who can perform a physical screening to assess any physical limitations and then put a plan together to work on them.
Q. What physical skill sets do you think Adam has that makes him so successful lately in the major championships?
A. He has all the tools of a great athlete and a nice balance between all the aspects of performance. Physically, he is designed for golf: a very strong lower body, a good deep stabilizing system, great thoracic mobility and control, and a great understanding of his own body. He has learnt so much over the years and has become very self aware and is good at giving me feedback about his body.
Q. What book would you recommend an aspiring golf fitness professional or golfer read, and why?
A. Anatomy Trains – Tom Myers - Great book illustrating the fascial system and connections
Rolfing – Ida P Rolf - A book looking at balance and structural intergration
The Endless Web – R. Louis Schultz - Another book on the fascial system
Conscious Health – Ron Garner - A book dedicated to natural health principles
Muscle Energy Techniques – Leon Chaitow – An approach to looking at muscle dysfunction
Assessment and Treatment of Muscle Imbalance - Janda Approach – Paige, Frank and Lardner – Great book to start exploring movement
All these books help you to understand the your own body. You only have one and its the vehicle that is used to achieve whatever you want. Respect it and learn about it.
Q. What do you think are your biggest strengths when working with your athletes?
A. I like to observe and I like to listen. I can adapt well to most situations and I know what my role is. When you work with professional athletes and are a part of their support system, you have to give up your sense of self. It is not about you, it is about the athlete and what it takes to get them to perform at their best. If you cannot accept that, or you try to make it about yourself, you won’t last long in this business.
Q. Why other types of athletes are you working with these days? Even though these sports appear quite different from golf are there any cross over skill sets?
A. In the last couple of the years I have worked with a number of top triathletes, cyclists and surfers and continue to do so. You take someone like a big wave surfer dealing with the ultimate consequence – “death” to the golfer who is standing over a 5 foot putt for a life changing experience. There is so much on the line. They have all developed skills sets to cope and develop. It is interesting to see when they all operate at an elite level that they are quite similar to each other. Obviously the skills and the sports are different, however, the approach and drive is so similar. I love trying things I have learnt from one sport and introduce it into another. Its the fun part.
Q. Your athletes are known to cross train with surfing. How do you think this helps your players?
A. Both Adam and Nick are really into surfing. Having grown up in AUS, Adam has been exposed to surfing his whole life, while Nick more recently got into it as well. I’m a bit biased when it comes to surfing because of my love of the ocean and all the different activities you can do in it. I think what my athletes gain from surfing are the mental benefits, more than any physical benefits. When you surf, you have to be completely present; it brings you into the now, with no cares and no stress. It teaches you to embrace that feeling of being in the moment, which compliments golf really well. They can take what they experience on the ocean and use it on the course