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Tips for undoing the damage of jet lag on your golf game

By Sean M. Cochran,

The golf travel industry is huge. Destination resorts such as Myrtle Beach, Hawaii, Palm Springs and Phoenix are springing up all over. Developers are not just hoping for the Field of Dreams, build it and they will come phenomena - they know folks will come.

Look at business. So many business relationships and transactions are being done on the links. And it's happening all over the globe.

Certain trips you are able bring your clubs; others times not.

We are going to talk about how travel affects your body and your swing while playing golf or not playing. We will also discuss what can help you with that horrid jet lag that can easily hinder your performance on the course or in the board room.

I write this article from experience. As a trainer on the PGA Tour, I travel all over the globe. So I understand what it is like to live out of a suitcase and not have everything available to you. Granted, we always have golf clubs with us, but I have some innovative ways to keep your game in shape.

This article is not about swing drills. Rather, this article will discuss how to keep your swing in shape from a more global perspective. Much of the information in this article is from personal observation, individual trial and error, and some tips from some experienced professionals.

Jet lag can kill your game

When I first started thinking about this article, I was at the world famous Doral Golf and Spa Resort in Miami, host of the Ford Championship Golf Tournament. I'd flown in from San Diego the night before. So there was a three-hour time difference, a four-hour flight, and let's just say I got up that morning at 2:30 a.m. Pacific Standard time (5:30 a.m. Eastern Standard time). So to sum it up, I know a thing or two about jet lag.

Because I am a personal trainer for Mickelson, I've spent a lot of time researching and developing ways to help Phil perform better. That also includes his travel and getting his body ready for competition.

Let's first start at the beginning with the flight. Research has indicated that whenever you fly the body becomes dehydrated. Why is this so? I guess it has something to do with the cabin of the airplane being pressurized.

Drinking lots of water is the first line of defense in battling jet lag. Drink water before you take off, during the flight, and once you land. Even if you have to go to the lavatory a couple times in flight, your body and your golf game will thank you.

We're talking about water. Not soda, not coffee, and sorry, not alcohol. Alcohol dehydrates the body, so when you are in the air you get a double whammy. Good old H2O.

Now what to do after you land? I've found the greatest success in the war against jet lag is immediately changing to the present time zone. I know it can be tough having to go to bed three hours later than what you are accustomed to, but believe me, in a day or so it will pay big dividends. I found this to really help.

Those are the two biggest tips I found to beneficial to jet lag.

Some of Sensei Sean's other helpful hints are regulating your workouts and eating healthy foods. Workouts for me get that blood pumping and the body moving. I don't feel lethargic on the road if I workout regularly.

Now a workout can be something like a 20-minute brisk walk or run around the hotel. Just get something into your schedule that gets the blood pumping. Finally, another key to not getting stung by jet lag is what you eat. If I eat healthy meals, my body is more alert and running efficiently. If I chow down on fast food or candy, my body starts to get run down.

On the road

I'm certainly not a swing coach and the suggestions in this article are merely from my personal experiences from traveling on the tour. Some good friends of mine (Rick Smith and Dave Pelz) are some of the best swing coaches in the world. I would suggest taking a look at some of their videos or articles for specific drills.

Now I realize that when you are traveling on business, time is limited to say the least. And probably more times than not, you won't have your clubs on the road. So what is the amateur to do? Well, what if I told you that it is possible to work on your swing in about 15 minutes a day without any equipment? Would that get you motivated to do a little work on the road? I imagine you would because I think we all have 15 minutes a day to spend on our swing.

We can work on three things without clubs:

• No. 1, we can work on the mechanics of your swing.

• No. 2, we can work on the machinery (your body) that makes the swing go.

• No. 3, we can work on the mind.

Putting all three of these entities together is what I feel is a complete training program for your swing. Forget about one and it's like not including sugar in that cake recipe. Yuck! You're leaving yourself out of the game.

I have been given a great series of "mirror" drills by my instructor to work on my swing, and I am guessing your instructor has given you something similar. If not, I know both Rick Smith and Jim McLean have a number of drills that are done without clubs.

Just take a look at the Golf Channel and you can probably pick up on a few of these drills. The great thing is I can do these drills anywhere and I don't need any equipment. So first off, spend five minutes a day in your hotel doing swing drills.

Once done with the swing drills, let's work on the body. The body is what drives your swing and needs just as much attention as your swing itself. The pros work on their body every day, so why can't the amateurs.

Take the next five minutes and do "golf strengthening" drills that train the body for your swing. These exercises take no equipment and can be done in the comfort of your hotel room.

Finally, spend the final five minutes of your training session on the mind. Numerous books exist on the mental side of golf. I bet if you pick one of these books up at the bookstore, any number of them will have daily drills to perform. Perform these drills for five minutes.

So there you have it! Stay hydrated, set your body to the local time as quickly as you can, eat good foods for your body and get some exercise. For the mechanics of the swing, develop a set of in-room mirror drills to keep in the groove. Now if you have your clubs on the road, the swing drills can be done for five minutes with your clubs.

Sean M. Cochran is one of the most recognized golf fitness instructors in the world. He travels the PGA Tour regularly with 2004 Masters Champion and 2005 PGA Champion Phil Mickelson. He has made many of his golf tips, golf instruction and golf swing improvement techniques available to amateur golfers at his Web site, BioForceGolf.com.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

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