ultimate posture 2.png

 

Last time, I proposed a few definitions of what posture is and noted that in performance, dynamic posture is the most important thing.

Even though static posture doesn't exist in many sports, in my experience it is a good indicator of what somebody's quality of movement will be like once they begin moving. This makes having a detailed conceptual model of ideal static posture worthwhile. Anything that helps take an individual towards this ideal (they will never reach "ideal" but it is a useful fictional notion) generally helps their mobility.

A quick-read blog post is no place to lay out an in-depth model of the ultimate static standing posture but I will point to two of the most important features of it.

There are many different patterns of "bad" static posture that we're all familiar with; the most common of which displays a forward head, a sunken chest and an anteriorly tilted pelvis (if this term doesn't mean anything to you, think of a plate in place of your pelvis tipping forward and spilling its contents on the floor in front of you). 

It may come as no surprise that unsinking the chest and untilting the pelvis are the actions that need to be taken to move us (if we fit into this pattern) towards this ultimate posture.

Generally, I don't tend to focus on drawing the head back from its jutting-out forward position. Lifting the chest bone will often automatically bring the head back into its ultimate position, with the ear hole directly above the centre of the ball of the shoulder. Drawing the head in doesn't drive the chest as powerfully towards its ultimate position.

Having the pelvis effortlessly occupying a neutrally tilted position during standing and the chest not sunken or lifted occupying its neutral position gives the spine its longest vertical configuration. In keeping with its structural design, there will slight curve inwards of the lower back and a slight curve outwards of the upper back. An overly-lifted chest (which is rare in my experience) leaves the upper back too flat.

The neutral pelvis and ribcage and the longest possible spine puts all of the connected muscles at their ideal resting lengths in balanced states.

From these balanced states, the muscles have the potential to display their maximal contractability and extensibility.

The torso will be able to stabilise properly, exhibiting real "core stability".

The limbs, moving off the foundation of an authentically stable torso, will be able to move with freedom and power.

In many acts of great speed, strength and power, the pelvis and ribcage will assume this relationship to each other in physically competent athletes at the moments of maximal force transfer.

In great sprinting, jumping, throwing, kicking and many other movements, the spine is long.

Learning to acquire and maintain this long spine - neutral ribcage - neutral pelvis configuration in motion, especially while moving quickly or subject to large forces, is almost impossible.

To get towards the ultimate posture, working on improving the static stance is where we start.

Keep your eye out for the final piece of this article where I'll be taking you through some methods of working towards the ultimate performance posture.

 

Arton Baleci
Float Sting

 

 

"Posture" is a minefield.

We have so many definitions about what it is, what it means and how to make it better that it is rare that two people in discussion are actually talking about the same thing.

In "normal standing" with the feet flat on the ground roughly hip width apart, one easy way to think of perfect posture is the configuration of the body parts in such a way that it occupies it maximum possible vertical height.

From the side, this would generally be characterised by an imaginary plumb line passing through the centre of the ear hole, shoulder, hip and ankle.

A brilliant definition that refers to the functionality of this perfect static posture is from the late movement expert Moshe Feldenkrais. I'm paraphrasing when I say it is the position from which one can move in any direction with minimum effort and without some sort of preparatory movement.

By preparatory movement, think of being slouched in a soft comfy chair and having to rearrange your limbs before getting yourself up. Perfect seated posture would allow you to transition smoothly from sitting to standing. Any other posture requires a movement before your ultimate intended movement.

The sitting experience has brought us to an example of posture in a position that isn't normal standing.

Given that we're not standing all that often, fixating on perfect standing posture seems a waste of time and energy.

Especially in sports, we are constantly on the move.

Movements can be viewed as an infinite number of static postures. High quality movements are made up of infinite numbers of static positions.

While it is not practical to deduce the perfect bodily configuration with exact angles and ratios for muscular activity of various body parts for every position that the body can get into, from my coaching experience there is one key practical point worth knowing:

The closer somebody stands to perfect posture without any special attention, the more likely it is that they will be able to move with high movement quality.

Notice that I said "without any special attention". Perfect posture is governed by the reflexive systems. Intentionally trying to have better posture by standing tall, pulling your shoulders back, your belly in or whatever is a preparatory movement in itself. It is merely another compensation to deal with.

If you want better posture and better quality movement (a must for anybody looking to take their sports performance up a few notches), your energy will be better spent doing activities that block your reflexes from doing their things - in this case, keeping you upright with minimal energy expenditure.

Keep your eye out for the next piece of this article in which I'll go into some useful markers of high quality posture and movement and how you can free yourself up to have better posture and movement.

 

Arton Baleci
Float Sting

P.S. perfect posture doesn't exist but the notion of perfection is useful so it does.

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If you read the piece I reposted a few weeks back, you would see that nearly 10 years ago I sold out in changing the name of a project that I was involved in in an attempt to get commercial backing to make the project easier.

There is logic to that reasoning making it a reasonable choice.

It can also look like a small thing; inconsequential perhaps.

Here I am nearly a decade later remembering it and writing about it for you and others to read.

Where it seems inconsequential mechanically to how the project unfolded, it wasn't to me.

Selling out, no matter how reasonable or small the divergence from my path may have been, has had a cumulative effect.

Every little change I have made for what I deem to be a poor reason has dulled my spirit and stained my soul.

In addition to that I have had something of a Wizard of Oz moment.

After a long journey to a magical place, I saw behind the curtain and found out what appeared to be magic had merely been illusion.

After many years of grafting to be involved in elite sport in some capacity, I got there and found out it wasn't what I thought it would be and that I didn't like the vast majority of what it was.

I often found cut-throat environments with people more interested in self-preservation than development and learning.

They were "elite" by status rather than through action. Professional by pay rather than attitude.

This soured me towards professional sport to the extent that for the last 18 months or so I have mostly worked with the general public. 

I'm now coming to see that in a way, I swung the pendulum too far back the other way.

The general public generally have little desire for the levels of detail that can be gone into to improve their performance. Preceding that, the general public generally don't care that much about their performance. 

One of the key things I have learned about myself over this last few years is the following:

If you don't care, I don't care.

So here I have been treading water between pro sport who doesn't care for one reason and the general public who don't care for another set of reasons. That's why you have heard from me so infrequently. I haven't known who I am to write for or what to write about.

You have seen me posting training videos of myself in an effort to do something rather than nothing. I feel their value is limited in terms of what I can give but I will continue as I'm figuring out something better which I believe I am.

"Elite" sports and general public.

They are two large, vague groups of people.

I have started to dig into my experiences of working with these people. Some of the general public have been an absolute pleasure to work with. They cared about their development and so did I.

As soured as I was by my experiences around pro sport, some of those guys and gals also cared about being better. They were elite in attitude and professional in their diligence and consistent application.

This caring it turns out has little to do with performance levels.

There are professional athletes in the top percentiles in their sports picking up pay cheques for the bare minimum invested on their behalves and there are people who have no interest in sport at all who are hungry to develop.

I am beginning to see through my generalisations to create a new better set of them.

It is still a thrill for me to see pro athletes at the top levels who seem to be driven primarily by their love of their game. 

Seeing Roger Federer at 35 years old eradicate a career-long flaw in his game earlier this year was amazing. Already considered by many to be the greatest male tennis player of all time with titles and money galore, he didn't need to do this. He could have still won and earned more. He did it anyway.

Watching Lionel Messi still getting better around 13 years after making his first team debut having won pretty much everything there is to win is a beautiful thing. He could have eased off like many great players have but no - he keeps developing.

That same beauty exists at the other end of the performance scale. I have watched people battle ferociously for ounces of talent where none exists but where nothing rides on them achieving improvement apart from their desire to.

My aim at Float Sting has always been to help people move smoother and strike harder in their sporting and physical pursuits. It is only now that I am coming to explicitly realise that the intangible love for the game may be the most important thing of all to me and that above all I need to be around that.

I care and I need to be around others that do too.

If you love your game and you believe I can somehow help you get more out of yourself for it, keep an eye out for some more frequent writing and some structural changes coming here soon.

 

With love,

 

Arton
Float Sting

Posted
AuthorFloat Sting

 

Golf is revered by many to be one of the toughest and most frustrating sports around.

The degree of control required to play the game well is phenomenal.

People often ascribe this control as psychological.

While I agree that somebody's mental state as they take a shot is crucial to their shot performance, I think that their physical state is equally as important.

Having worked with scores of golfers down the years, I have seen how their physical state can directly influence their control.

How can somebody control their club and the ball off it if they can't control themselves?

It is doable - I have seen scratch golfers with awful bodily control who manage to configure their output into good shots - but I have seen this to be the exception to the rule.

Take the example of this golfer I and Richie Marsden worked with last week.

If you watch this video closely, you may be able to see that right at the top of his backswing, there's what I will describe in the most technical terminology as a "wiggle".

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It's very quick but it's there. His swing momentarily goes from more upright to flatter as the club transitions from backswing to downswing. The two successive frames are above.

 

I've then laid two successive frames roughly over each other to the right to show the difference in the club shaft angle during those transitional milliseconds (I've overlaid them slightly offset so that the different shaft angles are more apparent).

 

This quick wiggle made the rest of the swing highly variable and had the golfer hitting inconsistent quality shots.

 

Now, that wiggle wasn't an intentional thing. He didn't know he was doing it and even when he did he couldn't authentically iron it out. Any attempt to change an issue like that with thought alone generally will just move the manifestation of it to a different form.

 

I have seen many times that such wiggles are the result of poor mobility.

This golfer already possessed good general mobility in most areas but close assessment turned up some stiffness in areas he had no awareness of at all.

Some gentle work with these areas coupled some coaching from Richie and we got what you can see in the next video.

A clean, wiggleless swing. This swing was shown by Trackman to produce straighter shots immediately.

 

If your swing is inconsistent, it's most likely the case that YOU are inconsistent.

Many of us possess mobility restrictions and mobility blindspots that affect the quality and consistency of our movements. 

Even with hours of practise and expert golf coaching, these will often hinder your consistency and subsequently your score.

Richie and I helped this golfer eliminate this pesky wiggle inside a session. With a few minutes a day of some movements that I gave him, the wiggle will stay a thing of the past.

He is now free to move onto another component of his swing that will give his drive yards more.

If you're struggling with inconsistency, come see us.

Whatever your wiggle is, with the right methods it can be a thing of the past.

 

Arton "The Wiggle Slayer" Baleci

P.S. having worked with golfers for many years now, I'm excited to be offering an amazing programme that will boost all aspects of golf performance, heavily targeting golf-specific biomechanics, mobility and fitness, starting around June in Formby.

If you would like to take your swing to a new level and are based near Formby (Liverpool, Merseyside, Lancashire, etc), drop me an email at arton@floatsting.com and I will let you know as soon as I release details on it. 

The first people in will be rewarded for their eagerness!

 

 

 

 

What could possibly be dark about getting better mobility in a specific position in just one month? 

There is nothing inherently bad about the challenges I have been setting myself and sharing with you over the past few months except when considered in a cultural context. 

A one month challenge. 

One month.

Lots can be done in a month as I have shown time and time again.

I have chosen short time scales to match the attention span I assume social media audiences may have. 

All we see everywhere are 30 day and 90 day challenges.

If it can't be done in that sort of timescale, there doesn't seem to be a great demand to see it.

As somebody who is dedicated to physical mastery, I can't submit to this way of thinking. Massive improvement can be made in the short term and where it does interest me, the smaller gains made further down the line, taking one ever closer or further into mastery are more fascinating. They are harder to make and rarer for it.

 

The gains made with the month mindset are often short term as well. Where do they go after a month when the pressure of the goal is gone?

Like the info you crammed for a test that is completely out of mind a week after the test is done, the results often leave an athlete's body. 

I have been guilty of this the past few months, moving on to the next month's challenge and leaving the previous month's stuff behind.

Having finished my overhead squat challenge at the end of October, I have not specifically worked on it since.

Having jumped on the challenges to easily engage my audience, I have became a fad trainer for the sake of business promotion.

I think it has been a greatly useful experience allowing me to deliver you plenty of proof of methods and I have learned lots along the way but now it's time to act more in accordance with the coach and trainee athlete I am. 

I can help you become a better athlete in the short term but doing so in the long term is a much larger and more worthy feat. Part of this lies in inspiring from the front.

After playing football for many years, I am not the most mobile. Working mobility in one or two major joints per month won't reverse this very quickly so now I am going whole body in my mobility training. I will still track how specific joints, muscles and positions are progressing over time but I will not work a few to the exclusion of others for the sake of a coherent audience narrative.

Over the coming days, I will post some mobility position photos (here's my first) as reference points to measure progress against, some of which I have worked a few months back and left to gather dust. I will check back in with them regularly...

...maybe even monthly...

but they will not be month long challenges with results and ends anytime soon.

They are snapshots of ongoing training that will develop athletic capacity over time.

I won't say that I'll never do a month long challenge again but I certainly won't be making them a cornerstone of my training anytime soon.

Are you looking for small quick wins or wins that take a little longer but dramatically change your game?

Don't leave all sorts of gains on the table for the sake of a short attention span.

 

Arton Baleci
Float Sting - The Athletic Transformation Specialist, Manchester

 

Arton Baleci
Float Sting - The Athletic Transformation Specialist, Manchester

 

You may remember after a spate of mobility projects, I began an explosive project a month ago.

I set out to see if I could improve my standing long jump - a predictor of, amongst other things, speed over the first few yards - in just one month. I was at the upper limit for excellent scores for adult males - 2.80m. I also managed to pick the shortest bloody month of the year!

Anyhow, did I manage to get closer to the elite echelons?

I did with a jump of 2.83m - an improvement of just over 1% in four weeks. 

I'm pretty proud of my extra three centimetres. They were hard earned and what's more, I think I have learned many lessons that will make it easier to improve my standing long jump even further.

Much more importantly is what the experiment implies for you:

  • If you lack pace off the mark, you can probably improve it in a short time period with high quality training.
  • If you haven't done a lot of structured training - resistance and jump training - you have a lot of untapped potential anyway.
  • If your jump is nowhere near as long as mine, you can probably also expect greater relative improvement given the same sort of training over the same sort of time frame.

 

Jumping longer can make you faster off the mark so if you lack explosiveness in those first few steps, get training the long jump.

Long can get longer in just 4 weeks.

 

Arton "Proud of my 3cm, read that as you will" Baleci
Float Sting - The Athletic Transformation Specialist, Manchester

Upgrading athletic performance. That is my area of interest and expertise.

Having worked with athletes of various levels from various sports, I have seen time and time again that most athletes lack the requisite mobility to be able to move as they wish to in their sport.

Control, speed, strength, power and endurance can all be leeched by stiff joints.

Many athletes don't want to hear it. They want to keep pushing on for those qualities and neglect mobility. They can't recognise the relevance of it or find it boring to work on.

Worse than boring, I find general mobility work ineffective. Time ineffectively spend is pretty disheartening to me. 

You may have seen over the past few months that I have embarked on a series of mobility challenges to show that somebody as stiff as a post using the right methods can make hefty progress with specific mobility goals in just one month. I'm not even talking a month of gruelling work. I'm talking 4-5 15-20 minute training sessions per week for guaranteed significant return.

Take this set of progress pics I received 4 weeks ago (I'm due some more any day now) from a current online client. He has gained more mobility in 2 months quality training than he has in a decade of on-off MMA training and gym work.

I have been asked how such impressive results can be attained.  Full programmes will not be laid out here as I make my living sharing this knowledge that I have spent years and thousands of pounds building but here are 3 of the key principles that anybody looking to build mobility quickly should work based upon.

1) CONSISTENCY & REGULARITY - just like building strength or one of the more "sexy" athletic attributes, you need to train consistently for a decent period of time. Two weeks of training and three weeks of nothing isn't going to get you too far. Regularity refers to how often you train. You are better off training a specific type of mobility four times per week for 15 minutes than smashing a big 60 minutes session out once per week.

 

2)  SAFETY - you will open up new range most easily when you feel safe working in the position you are in. Whatever position you are working in attempt to get more range, you need to be well supported, in good balance and able to breathe easily to get the most out of it.

 

3) USAGE - once you have opened up new range, you need to use that new range in order to keep your ability to access it. Just like any new skill you learn, the more it is used, the more stable and reliable it become. A route viewed on a map is easily forgotten. Walk the route, run it, in daylight and at night, navigate it with closed eyes and that route will be emblazoned into your memory.

 

I hope you take these ideas and implement them into your own mobility training. If you want to get to your mobility and athletic goals more quickly, you know where I am.

 

Arton Baleci, Athletic Transformation Specialist
Float Sting, Manchester

 

Another mobility experiment, another win!

My hamstrings, glutes and back can all achieve more length while my hip flexors and lower abdominals can contract to more of their potential shortness. My active mobility is greatly improved. As you can see by looking at the angle my lower back now makes to the floor, I can fold a fair bit deeper.

3.5 degrees may not sound a lot but consider that the flattest possible angle that my arm could make to the floor if I were insanely mobile is 15 degrees (in the case of my torso being completely flat to my legs). This makes my 3.5 degree gain a 25% closing of the gap to "ideal" in just over a month...

of 4-5 short sessions per week...

only doing forward bending stretches, movements and exercises for a maximum of 1 minute per session.

Most of this was done by working on my ankles, hip flexors and thoracic spine.

Mobility gains are made quite differently from how most people go about trying to achieve them...and generally failing. I know as I failed for more years that I care to admit.

If need to improve your mobility to boost your performance capabilities in your sport or athletic activity, drop me an email to check whether you are eligible to work with me.

More on mobility in the coming days.

 

Arton "Winning at mobility" Baleci
Float Sting - The Athletic Transformation Specialist, Manchester

P.S. for anybody who believes that mobility, strength and power can't be ideally developed simultaneously, I put 20kg on a deadlift variation this morning. You can be more mobile, stronger and faster all at once.
 

 

 

Being quick over the first five yards is crucial in most sports.

Over the past few months, you have noticed me getting stuck into all sorts of mobility projects (one of which I am currently around half way through) and where they capture the imagination of some interested in sports/athletic performance, I thought something a little more explosive and a little more difficult may be of interest.

The standing long jump is a test of explosivity in the horizontal plane which has decent carryover in predicting and improving starting speed over the first 5 yards and especially over the first step.

Depending on the literature you read, excellent standing long jump distances for men (landing on feet rather than on the backside in a sandpit) are from 2.5-2.8 metres and upwards. For women, excellent scores are around 20% less. The world records are respectively 3.73m and 2.46m. The men's record is long even compared to the excellent range.

Here you see a video of me testing my standing long jump. You can see I'm going all out - I actually ended up with muscular soreness in my lower abdomen after this session, which was 7 days ago. I managed a jump of 2.8m the set after the ones shown. Pretty respectable but can be better so I have set myself a challenge to break this distance in a month.

With jump training twice a week in addition to my strength, power and mobility training, I'm curious to see if I can make a difference to this test and subsequently, to my speed over the first few steps.

Unlike my mobility challenges where I start with lots of room for improvement, here I start off quite competent meaning returns, if I can make them in such a short time period, will be more marginal.

 

Do you think I can jump further in just a month? I don't know. That's half the fun.

I hope you enjoy the change of pace with the new challenge and I hope that you'll set about improving your standing long jump with me.

 

Arton "Gunning for 3 metres" Baleci

Float Sting - The Athletic Transformation Specialist, Manchester

 

 

 

 

 

After a few successful mobility projects, I have decided that my next one is going to be a little different, partly out of necessity and partly out of desire.

The forward bend, forward fold, pike, toe touch, sit and reach or whatever else you wish to call it is a common test of mobility with many not being able to get hands to toes.

As you can see to the side, in an active (meaning that I am using only my abs and hip flexors to pull me into this position) sit and reach test, I can reach past my feet. I approximately get my thumbs level with my soles. I've also marked a line along from my wrist to my armpit and measured its angle relative to the floor. Ultimately, the aim is to reach further beyond my feet and decrease the amplitude of the illustrated angle.

I mentioned at the start that this month will be different, hence the title "experiment".

This month I will spend no more than 60 seconds on any day doing anything that could be described as hamstring stretching. Most days I will probably fold forward no more than 30 seconds.

Firstly, I want to show that not all that much time is needed to make significant changes within short time frames when it comes to mobility.

Secondly, I don't think my hamstrings are a major issue within this pattern. If anything, I'm chronically anteriorly tilted at the pelvis which means my hammies are chronically long.

When I have gone through periods of stretching them in years gone by, I have ended up getting a little extra range at the cost of major soreness that has always put my backwards in my pursuits of strength and mobility.

Lots of my mobility training over this coming month (I started 6 days ago - late post, oops!) will revolve around taking my hamstrings out of their constant stretch by repatterning the length-strength relationships of the muscles that tilt the pelvis and those further afield that also influence this pelvic posture.

I'll spend most of my time working on my feet, ankles, hip flexors, glutes, abs, back, ribcage and neck.

Will the experiment work? Keep an eye out on my Facebook or Instagram to see my almost daily mobility experimentation.

 

Arton Baleci
Float Sting - The Athletic Transformation Specialist, Manchester

 

My latest mobility challenge was the gymnastics bridge, a pose that most adults struggle to do well due to inflexible shoulder, a kyphotic thoracic spine and uber-short hip flexors.

With some days off over the Christmas/NY period and half of my back going into severe spasm on Friday, I thought this project may be a bridge too far after my two previous successes with the pancake and the overhead squat.

Friday afternoon I was walking around like Quasimodo, stopping regularly because of sharp bouts of pain. Saturday and Sunday I moved through comfortable ranges where possible between hot baths and watching movies on the sofa.

Monday, with my pain about a third of what it was originally I trained around the pain doing some heavy upper body strength work that I believed wouldn't provoke the area (to the left of my thoracic spine). Feeling a little better being warm and having moved plenty, I did some gentle backbending using my knowledge of biomechanics to select a backbend that would minimise my risk of aggravating my recovering back.

This morning, my back felt decent enough to train a heavy partial sumo deadlift. It was so later in my session I slowly warmed up my spine, shoulders and hips. I didn't know if my sensitive thoracic muscles could take aggressive active contraction. The bridge is one of the biggest tests of the contractability of these muscles around. I had a go.

I was pretty happy with the results!

My knees are straighter, my chest is closer to being directly over my hands and my elbows are pretty much straight.

About 25 days of 20 minutes per day in 33 days led to this improvement.

One month, real results.

If you know you need to be more mobile and have wasted lots of time with ineffective methods or you don't know where to start, drop me an email by clicking here.

A month can make a significant difference.

 

Arton "Bridging the mobility gap" Baleci
Float Sting - The Athletic Transformation Specialist, Manchester

 

Not one to rest on my laurels after a successful month long mobility mission that finished yesterday (see the results here if you haven't already), I'm straight into another project.

The gymnastics bridge is my latest target.

I checked mine this morning after a full workout, 2x15 gentle limbers on the stall bars, 10 downward dogs into upward dogs and 4 press ups into bridge. I was very warm when I did this and it is absolutely nowhere near what I consider to be a gymnastics bridge.

A textbook bridge has the chest directly over the wrists, the elbows straight and the knees straight. Nowhere near!

Given the rough angles (this is imprecise given I am working from an image where the angle and perspective of the image influence these angles), I have nearly 40 degrees for the chest to come forwards over the wrists, nearly 50 degrees for the elbows to straighten and 80 degrees for the knees to straighten.

What a month I have ahead of me!

I want to explain my reason for this sudden, relentless spate of mobility projects.

Firstly, having spent many years until my mid twenties playing sports that tightened me up, I want to be able to practise more of what I preach. I have spent many years getting better at the work I do to help others play their sports and achieve their athletic aims better. I now want to benefit from all that I have learned myself, knowing how important mobility is from the inside out. I am in a quest to free up my ability to move day by day.

Secondly, it depresses me watching how most people go about doing mobility work now that I know its importance. Many do none and others do lots of ineffective work that leads them nowhere.  

I want those of you that this applies to to know that you needn't spin your wheels. With some time dedicated in the right way, you can make significant strides towards goals in just weeks.

Get with the game and join me in my project. Let my daily work inspire or frustrate you into action. 

 

Arton "Bridging the gap" Baleci

Float Sting - Athletic Performance + Rehab, Manchester

 

P.S. pardon the minor pixelation of the image that occurred during a minor rotation. There is probably a quick fix that I don't know! 

 

 

 

 

Posted
AuthorFloat Sting
3 things golf.png

 

In part one I put forward the importance of hip mobility and force production in getting better at golf. Retrospectively, I have realised I was primarily referring to the long game.

The third suggestion I'm going to put forward is more directed towards your short game, at least that's what the research says.

3) Developing a more "quiet eye".

Based on the work of physiologist Professor Joan Vickers, it became apparent that elite performers in many sports including golf, move their eyes in a different way to sub-elite performers.

From what I have seen, better putters look at the hole no more than three times in preparing to take their shot and then look at the back of the ball half a second longer through their backswing.

How closely do you look at the ball and for how long?

Given that "Quiet Eye" training, helping people to maintain their gaze on the ball for elite level times, is shown to improve performance, I strongly suggest you give it a go. Although best done with technological support and feedback and a coach, you can improve the ability to hold your gaze on your own.

I speculate, based on successful work done in other sports, that quiet eye training and other ways of working with how, when and where the eyes move and look can also have a positive impact on the long game in golf. I have seen no research on this so maybe you don't want to play around with such methods in your long game but if you do, I'd be keen to play too.

Remember that I used the word "physical" in the title of these pieces. Why the inverted commas?

This is a point I come back to time and time again in my writing and not because I enjoy repeating myself.

There are no strictly physical acts when we come to speaking about people. 

Your hips don't move by themselves during the swing.

Your muscles don't generate force by themselves. 

Your eyes don't quieten themselves. 

We do these things. We direct our attention so that we express our intentions with our body in the external world.

 

Do you know what happens to "stiff muscles" under anaesthesia? They become loose and pliable. If we are stiff, it is only a deeply ingrained habit based around learning experiences that makes it that way. Over time, we can unlearn stiffness. 

Our muscles are also stronger than our current use of them. Apply particular electrical stimulation to muscles and you will see that they can contract harder than we can consciously make them. We only seem to be able to tap into something more like their true strength with years of dedicated training or in life-threatening circumstances. Just think of the stories of people lifting cars off the top of loved ones. 

Where it is obvious that our brain and nervous system is absolutely necessary to move our eyes in the intended manner, it can be easy to forget that mobility and strength are controlled by similar centres too.

Mobility and strength, like fine motor movement, are skills too.

Outside of good, organised practise of your game, these are skills that have great transfer over to your golf performance too.

Get to work, 

 

Arton Baleci

Float Sting - Athletic Training + Rehab

 

 

Posted
AuthorFloat Sting

 

Golf is an interesting mix of fine movement skill and explosive power.

Just getting balls will not fully develop either of these attributes.

Here are three ways (there are MANY more) you can improve your movement, your precision and your power.

 

1) Improve the mobility of your hips, especially in internal rotation.

During your downswing, you move a lot through your hips. With your lead foot fixed on the ground, your lead hip needs to be able to allow lots of rotation of your pelvis around it. A free hip joint is not only necessary due to the magnitude of the movement but the speed of the movement too. That lead hip can move at around 225 degrees per second at its peak speed. We don't want tightness robbing us of that speed which ultimately helps generate ball speed.

The movement of the lead hip is internal rotation and that of the trail hip is external rotation. Both sorts of rotation are best improved, but internal rotation is especially important because it is generally poor in our population and it is more strictly necessary in the downswing with the lead foot being planted (the trail foot can rotate, lowering the need for full external rotation in the trail hip).

 

2) Learning to produce greater force more rapidly.

In our drives, we want maximum club speed to produce maximal ball speed and carry. Do do this, we need to move very explosively. Although we are swinging a fairly light implement (the club) and hitting a very light object (the ball), we can create a force in excess of 10,000 (that's the force that a one tonne stationary object applies down into the ground) Newtons for a split second. We also momentarily apply a greater force to the ground than our body usually does (thinking of jumping onto a set of scales and watching the needle flicker higher than your weight).

Even though speed seems of utmost importance, we need a body that can move quickly and that can absorb and produce large forces. 

High speeds occur with minimal loads. Adding load beyond a certain point slows any movement down. Maximal loads (which require maximal forces to move them) move at much lower speeds.

But here is the thing - "minimal load" is relative to how strong your are maximally.

To give maximal speed to the club, one must produce force right through themselves utilising motion from the ground up, similar to a jump. If you weigh 70kg and can squat 70kg extra, your bodyweight will be more difficult for your to explode up quickly from the floor with than somebody who weighs the same as you but can squat 140kg. With the same technique, they will drive further than you.

You need to learn to rotate more quickly and part of that comes from being stronger so you can produce more force from the ground up.

 

I'll write about the third thing you can do to boost your golf performance and why the title includes the word "physical" in inverted brackets in the next few days.

 

Arton "Powering Golfers" Baleci
Float Sting - Athletic Performance + Rehab, Manchester

Posted
AuthorFloat Sting

 

The mechanics of running better are the easy part. What I'll detail here is in my opinion the hardest part.

Many years ago I worked with a runner during an early part of their season when the volume of training they were doing was higher than usual and the intensity was lower than later in the season.

They were tired but curious to see if I could help them run more quickly.

They admitted that although they ran at a high level and their physiology had been analysed and shown to support elite level performance, they were not performing as well as they could. Coaches had told them they were not efficient in their running action.

One of the most striking inefficiencies was that one of their arms rotated around across their torso as they bought it forward.

This is unnecessary movement and unnecessary energy expenditure during every stride.

After a session or two working together, I recall the runner coming back to me and saying that without any thought to do so, they had found their arm was no longer overrotating as it came through. It was going back and forwards like their other arm. Or at least it had been.

The runner had decided that the arm not rotating around them didn't feel right and after 20 minutes of concentrating on it, they had managed to revert back to their old arm action.

I remember being lost for words. I don't remember what I said.

The major problem with running more easily is that it feels strange.

The strange feeling proves harder to tolerate than the difficulty of a more cumbersome running action for most.

Many reject the new better way and would rather opt for returning to the old way, which in the short term feels easier but in the long term halts progress.

The way that you run at the moment feels natural to you. That means that your current level of performance feels natural too.

Many of us would rather opt to do gruelling work to build fitness on top of our current running action than to change our style to be more efficient. That sort of work requires more patience, focus and uncertainty. It's easier to pay sweat than patient attention any day.

Sweat will take us so far by itself.
Better technique and motion will take us so far by themselves.

Both together are necessary to really change our speed.

As I said at the start, embracing the new easier action is the hardest part.

To get somebody moving easier can be done in minutes or hours.

Integrating moving the new, easier way into practise, training and competing takes lots of attentive work over weeks and months.

Can you do the hardest bit and make it easy for yourself?

 

Arton Baleci
Float Sting - Athletic Training + Rehab

 

After the success of and interest in my recent 1 Month Mobility Challenge where I made great progress with my overhead squat, I've decided to start another mobility mission.

This month, I'm feeling hungry for mobility gains so I'm going to devour a position called the pancake - legs straddled, knees straight and folded forwards as far as possible. Think belly to floor and hands reaching as far forward as possible..

As you can see, my legs don't spread that wide and my forward folding/reaching is poor. I can't even really sit upright in the straddle position without a rounded back.

Wish me luck for this one - I'm gonna need it!

I hope you'll follow my journey and have a go yourself as most of us can do with more flexible adductors and hammies. We can all get there if we go nibble by nibble.

 

Arton "The Pancake Nibbler" Baleci
Float Sting - Athletic Training + Rehab

 

Yesterday, I saw a video of one of my favourite sporting moments of all time - Michael Johnson's 200m world record at the '96 Olympics.

Watching him glide along that track at breakneck speed metres ahead of the guy behind him (who also broke the world record that day) before realising just how fast he'd gone as he crossed the finish line is emblazoned on my memory.

Many commentators and running coaches at the time believed Johnson's success to be in spite of his "unique" stride but given the scope of his success during his career many sports scientists subsequently confirmed that Johnson's stride was actually far more efficient than his competitors.

I don't know if I would say that there is a perfect way to run.

We all have different frames. We all have different muscle types that attach at slightly different points on our skeletons. We often run for different purposes. The stride of a footballer dribbling is by necessity different from that of a sprinter.

One universal-ish component of outstanding running is the minimisation of the movement of the centre of mass of the runner in any direction other than the intended direction of motion.

That was quite a mouthful, wasn't it?

Let me break it down.

Imagine the entire mass of a person could be represented by one point within them. In standing and running, this point would exist somewhere around the level of the belly inside of them.

When we run forward, we want this point to move forward. Not up and down, not side to side, not around and round, just forward as any of the movements in the other directions use unnecessary energy.

Those movements make us slower and they make us tire more easily.

The problem for many of us is two fold:

  • We don't carry our centre of mass were we should even in standing or walking before of mobility restrictions and muscular imbalances.
  • We are so used to carrying our centre of mass inefficiently that to take measures to do it better feel alien and require fairly long term reeducation.

One of the most striking examples of expert centre of mass management I ever saw in running was from distance running legend Kenenisa Bekele in an early season cross-country race.

On a downhill section, Bekele completely left the field behind. Thinking of downhill running for a second will probably bring about the feeling of trying to stop yourself going too quickly so you don't lose balance or injure yourself.

These guys all had gravity pulling them down the hill. Bekele was the only one in that race who could take maximal advantage of it, decelerating with each step minimally compared to his competitors.

I'm guessing a study of his motion during this race would show minimal up and down movement of his centre of mass, allowing him to put less effort into decelerating himself.

Next time you run, pay attention to how much you are going forward as opposed to side to side, up and down and round and round. Just doing this alone may help you develop a more lossless stride.

I'll write again on improving your running in the coming days.

 

Arton "Lossless" Baleci
Float Sting - Athletic Training + Rehab

 

Most of us want to be able to squat better.

We want better strength which we know comes from a mixture of muscular strength and technique.

For me, most squat technique flaws come from a lack of mobility in key areas. Lacking mobility ultimately costs us strength.

Even with years of training, I see so many of us bleeding strength and progress through a lack of mobility and I had to do something. I started with me.

You may have saw that I started a mobility challenge a month ago to see how much I could improve my overhead squat bottom position. Even with methods that time and time again have proven themselves effective with all sorts of people, I was a little worried that I had bitten off more than I could chew. With shin bones that twist my feet out relative to my knees, my ankles will never be close to ideal in mobility terms.

I put my fear of getting nowhere aside for a month and, surprise surprise, I got somewhere. 

With some honest self-analysis of my biomechanical flaws and daily mobility work of 20-30 minutes, I have made my overhead squat better in a month than it has gotten through years of more conventional training.

You can see here that my spine is 10 degrees more upright, my shoulders are around 10 degrees further open relative to my spine, I squat far deeper and my ankles dorsiflex 3 degrees further. 3 may not sound like much but it makes a huge difference.

What would happen if you prioritised a weakness for a month and worked on improving it with methods that work?

If you would like to improve your squatting more in a month than you have in years and years of training, get in touch about my online squat/overhead squat mobility programme.


Arton Baleci
Float Sting - Athletic Performance + Rehab
 

 

Getting punched. Opening a door. Running. Deadlifting. Tackling somebody. Catching a snatch overhead.

Whatever we do, we brace ourselves in different ways.

When I say brace I mean that we contract many of our muscles suddenly to stabilise a large proportion of ourselves to allow us to absorb impact and/or transmit force effectively.

In a conversation with somebody the other day, they were talking about "keeping their core switched on" to allow them to handle impacts in the sport they play.

"Keeping switched on". That's a tiring thought.

Imagine running around a rugby pitch for a full game concentrating on keeping your core tight...or a football pitch...or staying switched on for the full duration of a fight.

That's a lot of energy spent. That's a lot of fatigue created. That's a lot of energy concentrating on something that takes your attention away from the activity you need to be giving all of your attention to.

For these reasons, you don't want to be bracing all of the time.

A boxer doesn't brace their midsection for the entire fight. It would stop them moving well. They brace when they see a punch about to connect...and they do so unconsciously based on reflex action and learned response.

Your bracing should be similar. 

Also it needn't generally be focused on a particular muscle. I've heard of people running with their stomachs pulled in. This is madness. The intention of running forwards is enough to activate the level of bracing required throughout the body to not crumple at every stride. We cannot consciously activate every essential muscle at the precise time with the precise intensity required. Involuntary muscle contractions can be far more powerful than voluntary ones anyway.

Keep intentional activation of the bracing muscles for isolated training exercises where they can make an effective difference well away from the performance arena.

If you're going to brace for prolonged periods or overly consciously, you'd better brace yourself for substandard performance and injury too.

 

Arton Baleci
Float Sting - Athletic Performance + Rehab