By Tyler Hinds, been hitting it fat since ’89 (@THinds3)
This article was posted with permission from Tyler Hinds from the pro smart website. It is an excellent resource for players, coaches and parents! Can’t say enough about what a great site this is! http://www.prosmartsports.com/
Golf and hockey go together like peanut butter and jelly. Between the biomechanics of the swing and the alignment of the seasons, there really couldn’t be a better fit. In fact, these two sports are so intertwined that teams failing to make the playoffs or eliminated early on are told to “hit the links” and regroup for next season. While they’re blowing off steam on the course, here are five subconscious ways they are making themselves better hockey players.
1. It’s All in the Hips
Those are the famous words of Chubbs Peterson spoken to Happy Gilmore. Although Happy did hit a long ball, Dustin Johnson is widely known as the non-fictional version of the longest hitter on tour. The lean 6’4″ South Carolina native uses his exceptional weight transfer to pound the ball down the fairway, averaging 309.1 yards/drive. He also has a hockey connection having married the daughter of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky. Watch this super slow mo video of his weight transfer and how it translates into a punishing 377 yard drive. This concept also applies to the rotation involved in taking a slap shot or one-timer on the ice.
Golf is a game of precision over power therefore it isn’t necessary to swing for the fence. Often times, 80% power with good contact will go virtually the same distance as a full torque swing without the risk of losing a ball (and getting penalized), ending up two fairways over, or blowing out your back. This rule holds true in hockey. Nine times out of ten a full slap shot or one-timer will either snipe the goalie’s jersey logo or miss the net completely resulting in an odd man rush for the other team. While wrist shots and snap shots won’t max out a radar gun, the odds of these accurately placed shots beating a goalie are much more likely. Tin cup shows us both the risk and reward of going for it in 2 on a par 5.
3. Play to Your Strengths
Before each hole, plan out the perfect situation that plays to your strengths. For example, Hole 3 is a narrow 340-yard par 4. You hit your driver 270 yards consistently and relatively straight but are then left with an awkward 70-yard half wedge into the green or a punch shot from the trees. On the other hand, your 3 wood flies a modest 230 dead straight which leaves you a full 110-yard wedge into the green. Plan each hole with shots that you are most comfortable making. How does this translate to hockey? Play to your strengths by not confusing your role. If you’re a goal scorer, score goals. If you are a play maker, dish the puck. And if you are an energy player, finish every check. Don’t try to be a player that you aren’t; do what will bring you and your team success.
4. Short Memory
We’ve all had our moments on the golf course; the few moments of triumph when you strike a ball so pure it feels weightless and the many moments of defeat when you make a beaver tail sized divot with your driver (how?). To be an effective golfer, you must have a short memory to purge both the positive and negative as you prepare for your next shot. This skill of “even keel-ness” keeps a player’s emotions neutral throughout the good, the bad, and the ugly so they never lose their focus. Hockey players must also adopt this mentality when coming off a highlight reel, goal scoring shift or after being exposed by an opponent’s crafty skill. Getting too up on the bench can lead to careless mental mistakes (lackadaisical turnovers) while anger can lead to irrational decision making (retaliation penalties). Find that happy medium and try your best to remain there… woosah.
5. Mind Over Matter
“I just didn’t take that extra deep breath. This one will hurt, it’ll take a while” said Jordan Spieth after his epic Master’s meltdown. This proves that even the best players in the world aren’t immune to high pressure moments. Golfers need to approach every shot as if there’s nothing at stake; it’s just another ball on the range or 4-foot putt that you’ve nailed 100 times. I realize that this is an incredibly difficult skill to harness but a confident pressure-less stroke will give you a more desirable result. This holds true for hockey players in late game, overtime, or shootout situations where players have a tendency to grip their sticks a little tighter. After all, its an easy game… just tap it in.