Newsletter: Golf and the Performance Pyramid (part 1)

This newsletter is about performance. What it takes to get the ball in the hole. That means were going to talk about putting yourself in position to make solid golf shots and play consistent golf – particularly under pressure.

I’m really excited about this next series of newsletters because I’ll bring in specific real-world examples of the techniques I used to win the 2012 Remax World Long Drive Championship. (ESPN will broadcast the competition on Sunday, December 23rd, at 11:30 am Pacific). These are performance skills that don’t get talked about much, but should. Because they’ll help you play better golf.

For instance, in the finals it came down to my 6th and final ball. I was trailing. I had to hit my best shot.
What do you think about when everything is on the line?
Where do you focus under pressure?
How do you summon confidence and the trust you need to come through in the clutch?

I’ll answer those questions in a moment (hint: it’s NOT mechanics!)

First I need to set the context. That’s what this video is about.

After my win I was invited to speak on the main stage at the Bay Area Golf Show. I shared with the audience the Performance Pyramid. You’ll be hearing more about the pyramid shortly.

The Performance Pyramid is just a way to put into context the skills that come into play at progressively higher levels of performance. These are the skills I practiced to prepare for the championship.

At the highest level of performance you are “in the Zone.” But just below that is a level we’ll call “Peak Performance. That’s your highest level of performance without necessarily being in the zone. It’s still pretty darn good.

And there are specific skills that come into play for peak performance. Skills you can learn. Skills we’ll be discussing over the course of the next several newsletters.

Watch the video to see where “mechanics” fit in the Performance Pyramid. It may help you understand – perhaps for the first time – why you might be frustrated with your golf game or why you feel like you aren’t improving the way you think you should. This is particularly important if you  think about your mechanics when you swing.

As you see in the video there are three “High Performance” skills:
1. Target
2. Confidence
3. Centeredness

I’ll be discussing each in more detail in the next few newsletters. I’ll also provide examples of when and how the skills are used so you can find a way to apply them to your own game when you are on the course.

TARGET: It’s all about picking a specific target, and then developing the skill of knowing where the target is located even when you look away from it and focus on the ball. I used a wind-sock at the end of the grid for my target. My image of that target was so clear I could picture it’s exact location no matter where I was in the entire facility.

CONFIDENCE: Confidence comes from practicing and preparing correctly. I talked about how and what I practiced in my “Journey to the Worlds” series leading up to the competition. There’s a time and place for working on mechanics and a time and place for working on performance skills. The closer I got to the competition the less I focused on mechanics and the more I focused on higher level performance skills. When it came down to crunch time I knew I could hit the shot – because I’d already practiced it.

CENTEREDNESS: One of the keys to performing well under pressure is being in the moment. That means focused exclusively on the task at hand (hitting the golf ball to the target) and not worrying about the past or the future outcome. I used breathing, visualizing, and positive self talk to help me get mentally centered in the moment. The key is to incorporate them into a pre-shot routine to make everything as automatic as possible.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m looking forward to sharing more detail on the specific skills with you because I know you’ll figure out how to apply it to your own game. You’ll have a lot more fun and gain a lot more control over your game.

Please leave a comment or question.

RELATED POSTS:
Journey to the Worlds 2012 (see the whole process)

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  1. Christine Wigg
    2 years ago

    Hi Eric,
    I have your The 5 Keys To Distance book/dvid. I loved the drills and the regular newsletters – all of which provided some great insights and “reasonable” results on the course. Unfortunately didn’t get a lot of golf games/practice due to work. A new year, a new resolution to get my high handicap down (38). Distance has certainly improved but I consistently have a game of two halves (brilliant and poor!). I;m told it is short game and direction by well meaning golfers – but this isn’t always the case. Any suggestions on how to get over this hurdle?

    Congratulations on your latest achievement.
    Christine


    • Eric Jones, MA, PGA
      2 years ago

      Hi Christine,
      Thanks for your comments. Really glad you are seeing progress from The 5 Keys To Distance.
      When it comes to lowering your scores on a consistent basis, I suggest you think in terms of priorities. I’ve been asking my students what they consider the most important parts of the game. Pretty consistently the responses look like this:
      Putting – the 6 to 7 foot putt
      Driving: Driver off the tee
      Scoring Shots – from 75 to 125 yards (men)
      Greenside Chipping – from 5 to 25 yards

      I’m developing training programs to help golfers with these priorities, and excited to say that the Scoring Shots training program will be released in the next couple of months. I think it will really help.


  2. Gaudencio
    2 years ago

    Eric, l am new to your program and just saw the DVD and part of your book. l
    I seem to like it. l don.t know if l will be successful even 40–50% l will be happy. l have been disappointed in the past with so many programs that l have. l concluded its not the program but me. l am a high handicapper and also a supersenior. Before l quit the game l want to plkay better and break 90. l am almost there. You are my last hope. Thank you for listening.


    • Eric Jones, MA, PGA
      2 years ago

      Hi Guadencio, Welcome to the family! I’m part of the senior group as well, so I understand you issues. The 5 Keys To Distance is based on fundamentals. I encourage you to pay close attention to each module, starting with Balance. Do your best to really master the idea of starting in balance, swinging in balance, and finishing in balance. I guarantee this fundamental alone will vastly improve your game. It’s the foundation of all golf swings – even putting. Keep us posted on your progress!


  3. Peter Taplin
    2 years ago

    Eric,
    I’ve played the game for a long time but with some breaks. Your advice is invaluable. Clearing the mind of every thing except target focus when preparing and executing the shot is absolutely key to a good result. I wish I had realized this or had the benefit of your advice a long time ago. For some people it comes more naturally than others. I think it depends to a considerable extent on how you approach tasks more generally. You can make anything more difficult than necessary by concentrating too much on technique during performance. If you approach something with the mind-set that it is difficult then it will be. There are some issues of individul temperament and psychology here. BUT: you have shown us how to find a way out of this trap. Thank you and I look forward to more of your wisdom.


    • Eric Jones, MA, PGA
      2 years ago

      Hi Peter – Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. Can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. There is a way out of the mechanics trap and I really looking forward to sharing some of the things I’ve been doing with my Coaching students that is working. It’s pretty exciting stuff. The next few newsletters are going to be very interesting, and I hope you will continue to take the time to provide your feedback. I had a lesson today with an individual who made a real breakthrough when he started getting the Target Focus concept. Can’t wait to share.


  4. GEORGE DAHL
    2 years ago

    ERICK,
    HAVE YOUR 5 KEYS TO DISTANCE WHICH IS EXCELLENT.
    LOOKING FORWARD TO YOUR EMAILS AS THEY ARE FULL OF GREAT ADVICE.
    I MISSED THE TV BROADCAST.
    DID YOU WIN THE OPEN DIVISION? IF YOU DID DOES THAT ALSO GET YOU THE SENIOR TITLE.
    WHAT HAPPENED TO SADLOWSKI?
    GEORGE


    • Eric Jones, MA, PGA
      2 years ago

      Hi George – Thanks for the note. Yes, I won the Super Senior division (age 50+). I watched the program on ESPN, and unfortunately they didn’t broadcast my final match. Just show a few highlight pictures. Bummer. It was a great match. Back and forth, and it came down to the last ball for both of us. I was fortunate to come out on top – my 2nd World Championship title.
      Sadlowski made it to the semi-finals, then had some bad luck when the wind changed and started blowing into his face. Another excellent tournament for him – a future Hall-of-Fame member for sure.


  5. Ted Baptista
    2 years ago

    Hi Eric,

    Just viewed the 2012 World RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship, and it was a shame they didn’t show your winning drive. Congratulations!

    Felt sorry for Sadlowski. He’s capable of really bringin’ it, especially a participant of his stature.

    Are you still teaching as Pleasanton Golf Center? If so, I will be getting in touch with you the first of the year some some help. Like everyone, could use added distance.

    Enjoy reading your email articles.

    Happy Holidays to you and yours!

    Ted


    • Eric Jones, MA, PGA
      2 years ago

      Hi Ted,
      Thanks for watching. We didn’t get much air time in this show. Ah, well.
      Yes, still at Pleasanton. Look forward to seeing you after the new year.


  6. Allen
    2 years ago

    Very interesting, but I’m really dying to hear the specifics.


    • Eric Jones, MA, PGA
      2 years ago

      Thanks Allen. Watched the 2012 Remax Worlds on ESPN. They didn’t do my match justice with air time, so I’ll be writing about it, and tying all the thoughts together. Great story in there.


  7. Kevin Murphy
    2 years ago

    Eric
    Good newsletter. I used the advice in your November newsletter with surprising success. For years I’ve struggled with release mechanics. I’d hit with my hands and arms at the point of contact. My arms were extended. My weight transferred, (crushing the bug under my left heel). The club face was aligned perfectly at impact. The ball went straight. As hard as I could swing I could only drive the ball about 185 to 200 yards. So using your advice I (finally) got my entire torso involved in the swing, and, using the lag, my hands whipped the club face through the ball on impact. Every shot from the tee box and every fairway shot was a boomer. Wow. Also, I wasn’t hitting with 100 percent effort – those swings yield unpredictable results.

    Since I was able to repeat the mechanical part swing after swing, I became confident and began to focus on the feeling of swinging towards the target rather than hitting the ball. Whenever a shot went awry, I could sense what piece needed attention, and the next shots went as intended. The key was the confidence, based on practicing the mechanics and trusting the targeting. Now I don’t hit the ball, I swing, and the ball just happens to be in the path of the club.

    Birds on par 5′s, 13 GIR’s average over five rounds in Maui by a 22 handicapper!

    Thanks for the help!


    • Eric Jones, MA, PGA
      2 years ago

      Sweet results, Kevin! Thanks for letting me know. Awesome progress. Especially the way it helped your confidence. You’ve made the mental switch, and I see great things in your future!


  8. Curt Clawson
    2 years ago

    Eric – congrats again on your accomplishment at the LD Championships. Your consistent messages demonstrate your love of the game and of teaching. I look forward to the articles and another “round” of instruction in Pleasanton.
    The Clawdog


    • Eric Jones, MA, PGA
      2 years ago

      Thanks Clawdog!
      I’m still hard at it. Look forward to seeing you in 2013.


  9. michel wandel
    2 years ago

    hello eric,
    I look forward with anticipation to see a bit “lower of the iceberg”.
    I already tremendously enjoyed your video last year; let the party continue!
    michel wandel, brussels, belgium.


    • Eric Jones, MA, PGA
      2 years ago

      Thanks Michel – great to have readers from overseas! That’s pretty cool. It was an awesome journey this year, and I’m glad you got a chance to follow along. The next few newsletters will have much more to say, in ways that will benefit everybody. Cheers!


  10. Tony
    2 years ago

    Eric,
    Thank you for your newsletter, l await the opportunity to hear more of your discussion on reaching peak performance (Target, Confidence & Centeredness).
    Merry Christmas,
    Tony W


    • Eric Jones, MA, PGA
      2 years ago

      Hi Tony,
      Thanks for leaving a message. We’ll have lots more to discuss in the next several newsletters, and I think everybody can benefit.


  11. andy
    2 years ago

    thanks for that eric, i,m going to spend some time on the range and imagene i,m on the cource it,so obvious but how many of us do it


    • Eric Jones, MA, PGA
      2 years ago

      Good point Andy. Simulated competition was one of my keys this year. Let us know what you discover. It’s a great way to practice.


  12. Barry McCarron
    2 years ago

    Nice. Looking forward to more newsletters


    • Eric Jones, MA, PGA
      2 years ago

      Thanks Barry. Next few newsletters will be interesting.

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