Triathlon and Golf: How Much They Have in Common

Triathlon and Golf: How Much They Have in Common

Triathlon and Golf: How Much They Have in Common
By Jay Fuller, D3 Athlete

I grew up playing sports?baseball, basketball, golf, football, etc.? anything that kept me from having to run long distances. Only recently have I tried my hand at endurance sports and triathlon and I can’t help but notice a strong resemblance to golf.

My grandfather was a PGA Pro, so I grew up around golf. One thing about these two sports is that it?s you against the course. Mostly it?s you against the elements. Wind, rain, heat, can all play factors and you?re just left with what you have inside you to the best you can.

Golf and triathlon both have three major components. Triathlon has swim, bike and run. Golf has tee shots, fairway/iron play and the short game. Being good at one won’t make you a great player. Being consistent in all three will vastly improve your chances. The athletes that can put all facets of the game together consistently are the ones people come to watch.

Both sports take commitment?you have to love to practice if you want to improve. In golf, when I would make a swing change my scores would get worse for awhile. At first, this was frustrating since I didn?t know if I would improve, but after a while my scores got lower. There are going to be weeks when I struggle and don?t feel good, but I know and trust that it will be better in the long run. I try to keep everything in perspective.

Golf is a mental game. If you don’t have the mental game you are never going to excel. Take Tiger Woods, he is a gifted athlete, but I’d take his mental game over his physical game any day. Any top triathlon pro or coach would tell you mental training is key. You have to know yourself and truly understand your strengths and weaknesses.

Before I hit every shot in golf, I visualize the shot I want to hit. This is part of my routine, part of my mental game. I imagine that most of the best pros have played more rounds of golf in their heads than actual rounds. The same can be said for triathlon. The athletes who are mentally prepared and have raced the course in their heads are the ones who will persevere on race day. However, even if you don?t know the course, visualizing yourself racing well will help. Visualize coming out of the swim feeling good, biking and then making a strong run. Pressure does funny things to athletes, some fold, some focus and get better. It?s the athletes who are best prepared mentally that can consistently handle the pressure and even thrive.

Know yourself in relation to the course. Sometimes in golf you want to make par on a hole and get off as quickly as possible, where on other holes, you’re upset if you don’t make birdie. You have to know what areas to stay away from, what areas are ok if you mess up and what areas you can attack. Attacking in triathlon is similar. Knowing where you want to attack. before the race starts is a huge advantage. It doesn?t mean that it won?t change during the race, but it helps to know. Sometimes though, knowing where not to attack is more important. If you attack at the wrong point in a race it could cause you serious problems later. Race to your strengths and control your weaknesses.

Sometimes you?re going to get thrown off your plan no matter how hard you try. I?ve had many bad days on the golf course. What you want is when you do have a bad shot, it won’t be fatal. Many people, myself included, turn one bad shot into another. Sometimes you just have to chip out and keep moving. Ultimately it’s about getting the ball in the hole in as few shots as possible. In triathlon, you do whatever you have to do to finish as quickly as you can. Nothing can beat a good game plan, but if it doesn’t work out exactly as planned, the better you know the course and yourself, the better you can adjust when things go wrong.

Every athlete has to find what works and what doesn?t. However, if you follow these three pieces of advice you will have an advantage when you line up for your next race or round of golf. One, know the course you are racing or playing on. Two, know how your strengths can be utilized in relation to the course. Finally, visualize the course, visualize the race and visualize success. Just like training, the more you hone these skills, the better you will perform.

Every athlete has to find what works and what doesn?t. However, if you follow these three pieces of advice you will have an advantage when you line up for your next race or round of golf. One, know the course you are racing or playing on. Two, know how your strengths can be utilized in relation to the course. Finally, visualize the course, visualize the race and visualize success. Just like training, the more you hone these skills, the better you will perform.

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