PIA NILLSSON & LYNN MARRIOTT
Rather than write a full review we want to do something a little different and offer a snapshot of the book, an image or the style of writing that gives you a full flavour of the book. This preview or snapshot is designed to focus on a really interesting idea or concept rather than provide a full critical review.
The golf coaching industry is big business, and like any big business there is bound to be conflict. Traditionalists call for simplicity and an approach that relies on sensory information with a trial and error approach. Fundamental modern coaches would never dare make a guess or assumption about a technique, they would rely on the technology to measure it for them. Some have a foot in both camps.
What is less controversial, which creates less friction, is the importance and influence of the mental game. Which ever of the above coaching theories you prescribe to, an effective sporting brain – one with consistent motor control and patterns – is key in carrying out any physical intention such as the swing.
Vision 54 is a system or series of core beliefs created by Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott, famous for their work with Annika Sorenstam throughout her glittering career. They have created concepts that are now regular terminology for most professionals, such as leaving the think box and stepping into the play box as part of your pre- shot routine. Unlike other systems, there is room for manoeuvre with Vision 54, the instruction usually involves working out what is best for you.
This book, Play Your Best Golf Now, is the third and most recent book which has been published to critical acclaim. In this bitesize insight we will include some excerpts on topics that all golfers are aware of and constantly battle. Apart from the fact that all golfers constantly seek to improve their timing and stress level on the course, it is worth a mention as so few in the industry are prepared to tackle this massive subjective grey area of the game.
“FIND YOUR TEMPO AND DANCE TO ITS RHYTHM”
“Tempo is not something that can be explained to you, it is something you have to experience; it is something you have to feel.But tempo is something you can also learn to control”. They illustrate their point with some wonderful insight of LPGA tour player Ai Miyazato with how she recovered from a slump in form.
Later on in the chapter the discussion highlights the extremely different tempos of some of golf’s best players such as Ernie Els ( smooth) versus Tom Watson (quick). The crux of tempo, what you must grasp is that “tempo is something you borrow rather than own. It is constantly in motion and changes depending on how your body and swing feel on any particular day.”
This helps keep in perspective the intention of a practice swing or pre round warmup – it is to find your tempo on the day, not try and achieve a perfect swing or shot.
They finish the chapter with a raft of tempo exercises that will challenge the most proficient golfer. Our two favourites are: “Putt three footers with four different tempos”- this is a great way to see how reliable your stroke is. The better your stroke, the easier it will adapt to different speeds. Practicing like this will help to highlight any faults or compensations you have in your technique.
The second drill forces you to make big changes to your swing but creates a focus only on the target. Practicing this drill will give you more control of your ball flight in difficult conditions. “Hit a three quarter six iron at 75% tempo and a half six iron at 100% tempo. Then try this with a longer and shorter club.”
It is no accident that Pia and Lynn locate this chapter directly after one detailing tempo. It “is the demon between you and your golf swing. You can’t eliminate tension but you can learn to manage it.” They urge the reader to find and search for the tension in your game. Play and practice with a heightened awareness of your state of relaxation or stress.
This awareness is “crucial to peak performance golf.” Without it “mastery of technique is of no value”. If you appreciate the importance of tension and it’s context in performance you are better equipped to analyse your game. We really like the following insight one of their students had: “The problem isn’t a breakdown in my mechanics, but in what led to the breakdown of my mechanics.”
The consistent structure of the book allows you to navigate it very efficiently. A discussion of the main topics importance begins a chapter. A player insight or example followed by some helpful drills and exercises to implement and effect change.
To manage your tension Vision 54 suggests consciously stretching, yawning or taking deep breaths between shots. They suggest practicing with different tension levels in chipping (on a scale of one to four) as a way of creating awareness and finding out which “is best for you.”
“ESSENTIAL PLAYING SKILLS OF GOLF”
As an interesting note to finish on here is what the authors call the Eight Essential Playing Skills of golf:
1) Leave Your Mind Behind and enter the Play Box
2) Decide and Commit to your shots
3) Find Your Balance both physically and mentally
4) Feel Your Tempo on the course and dance to its rhythm
5) Tame Tension to improve your swing
6) Build Emotional Resilience
7) Store Memories and learn from the past to make a better present
8) Drown Self-Talk In Useful Thoughts
Why not see if you can incorporate them into your game? Click here to buy this book.