Relaxed Intensity The Key To Your Ideal Performance State

By David BreslowMay 19, 2004, 4:00 pm
Relaxed Intensity is the phrase I use to describe your ideal performance state. In this state you are using the perfect amount of emotional energy combined with the perfect amount of relaxation of the body to create power, rhythm and grace in the golf swing. The challenge for many players is to be aware of their muscles becoming too tense to execute a smooth golf swing and then to do something about it.
 
I believe the single most prevalent reason for poor strokes and loss of power (beside poor mechanics in the power areas of the swing) is we over tighten and use more muscles than needed to perform the task. The fine line between physical tension and emotional charge is what I call the state of Relaxed Intensity. You are relaxed enough and intense enough to be at peak effectiveness.
 
Have you ever found yourself tense over a golf shot standing at the tee box, over a short putt or on a short chip shot? Tension levels vary for each of us and they also vary from one situation to another on the golf course. Tension is a very individual matter affecting us at different times. However, when we are too tense in our physical body it will affect our golf swing. Tension is a swing killer.
 
Dr. Jim Suttie, a Golf Magazine Top 100 teacher and frequent guest on The Golf Channel once said to me the biggest obstacle I have is getting students to relax during a lesson. If I could change that; theyd get better faster. His concern is shared by many PGA pros Ive spoken to who agree that student tension levels interfere with the learning curve.
 
As a former Director of Mental Toughness as the National Tennis Center in New York, we used to observe athletes as they hit balls in warm-up and in match play. In those players who didnt perform their best, we found that their tension levels were higher than those who did perform their best. You could see the difference in foot- work, preparation and fluidity of the swing. In golf, it is very much the same. Observing a golfer at the range and then observing them on the course, we can find a marked difference in their tension levels and in the power and fluidity of their golf swing.
 
Think of your body as a finely tuned high performance engine. This engine uses the finest parts and when it runs its best; it is smooth and powerful. What happens when there is blockage in the system? No matter how great its parts, It loses power and its timing is thrown off. You operate the same way. Energy flows through your body when it is relaxed and open. When this happens you experience increased power and rhythm. When there is blockage however, over tight muscles cause you to lose power, rhythm. and throw off the timing of your golf swing.
 
TRIGGERING RELAXED INTENSITY
Your best golf swing will tend to show up when you learn how to reduce or remove over-tension from your swing. This happens because reducing tension allows you to get out of your own way, creating the space for your swing to be more fluid, more powerful and more rhythmical. There will always be a certain amount of tension needed but any additional tension will interfere with your natural power, fluidity and rhythm.
 
Here are some steps to help you achieve the state of Relaxed Intensity:
 
Check-In Regularly
Most of us will tighten up without realizing were doing it. Our tension levels are often an unconscious response out of habit. Many golfers Ive worked with are not aware of their tension levels or have become so used to their normal tension they dont believe they are over tense at all. When you experience more reduced tension in any area then you will have a reference point to work from
 
The 8 Major Check Points
When you do check in, monitor these common tense points in the body. They are: feet (yesthe feet. This is a common area of tension often unnoticed), legs, abdomen / hips, arms, hands / fingers, shoulders, jaw, eyes / forehead.
 
Quiet Eyes
Relax your eyelids and allow them to fall comfortably in place. Tense eyelids usually mean tension around the face area. When the eyes are tense they tend to narrow causing unnecessary tension both in the facial muscles and mental tension as well
 
Breathe Your Way To Relaxed Intensity
The best way to reduce muscle tension in the body is to BREATHE. Think of your muscles as a band of fibers. When they are tight; they choke off the flow of energy, blood and oxygen. When they are loose these fibers rest in a more natural way creating increased energy and blood flow. This, in turn, creates more power and fluidity in the golf swing.
 
If you practice becoming aware of and then reducing your tension levels you can trigger the state of Relaxed Intensity in your golf swing. When you do, it feels great! Good Luck!
 
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    DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

    By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

    The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

    ''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

    In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

    ''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

    The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

    ''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

    The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

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    Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

    Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

    Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

    As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

    Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.

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    Hot Seat: Rory jumps into the fire early

    By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 2:11 pm

    The world’s top tours head to desert regions this week, perfect locales for The Hot Seat, the gauge upon which we measure the level of heat the game’s top personalities are facing ...

    Sahara sizzle: Rory McIlroy

    McIlroy won’t have to look far to see how his form measures up to world No. 1 Dustin Johnson at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    McIlroy will make his 2018 debut with Johnson in his face, literally.

    McIlroy will be grouped with Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood in the first two rounds.

    Players like to downplay pairings early in a tournament, but it’s hard to believe McIlroy and Johnson won’t be trying to send each other messages in this European Tour event in the United Arab Emirates. That’s the alpha-dog nature of world-class players looking to protect their turf, or in the case of McIlroy, take back his turf.

    “When you are at the elite level, you are always trying to send a message,” Trevor Immelman said about pairings during Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge last month.

    And that was an offseason event.

    “They want to show this guy, ‘This is what I got,’” Immelman said.

    As early season matchups go, Abu Dhabi is a heavyweight pairing that ought to be fun.

    So there will be no easing into the new year for McIlroy after taking off the last three months to regroup from the stubborn rib injury that plagued him last season. He is coming off a winless year, and he will be doing so alongside a guy who just won the first PGA Tour event of 2018 in an eight-shot rout. Johnson’s victory in Hawaii two weeks ago was his fifth since McIlroy last won.

    “Mentally, I wasn’t in a great place, and that was because of where I was physically,” McIlroy said of 2017. “I feel prepared now. I feel ready, and I feel ready to challenge. I feel really good about where I’m at with my health. I’ve put all that behind me, which has been great.”



    Sonoran Smolder: Phil Mickelson

    Mickelson will turn 48 this summer.

    His world ranking is sliding, down to No. 43 now, which is the lowest he has ranked in 24 years.

    It’s been more than four years since he last won, making him 0 for his last 92 starts.

    There’s motivation in all of that for Mickelson. He makes his 2018 debut at the CareerBuilder Challenge in the Palm Springs area this week talking like a man on a renewed mission.

    There’s a Ryder Cup team to make this season, which would be his 12th straight, and there’s a career Grand Slam to claim, with the U.S. Open returning to Shinnecock Hills, where Mickelson finished second in ’04.

    While Mickelson may not feel old, there are so many young stars standing in his way that it’s hard not to be constantly reminded that time isn’t on his side in these events anymore.

    There has only been one player in the history of the game to win a major championship who was older than Mickelson is right now. Julius Boros won the PGA Championship when he was 48 back in 1968.



    Campaign fever: Jordan Spieth

    Spieth’s respect in the game’s ranks extends outside the ropes.

    He was just selected to run for the PGA Tour Player Advisory Council’s chairman position. He is facing Billy Hurley III in an election to see who will succeed Davis Love III on the Tour’s Policy Board next year.

    Spieth, just 24, has already made Time Magazine’s list of the “100 Most Influential People.” He made that back in 2016, with the magazine writing that “he exemplifies everything that’s great about sports.” Sounds like a campaign slogan.

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    CareerBuilder Challenge: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 1:10 pm

    The PGA Tour shifts from Hawaii to Southern California for the second full-field event of the year. Here are the key stats and information for the CareerBuilder Challenge. Click here for full-field tee times.

    How to watch (all rounds on Golf Channel):

    Thursday, Rd. 1: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Friday, Rd. 2: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Saturday, Rd. 3: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Sunday, Rd. 4: 3-7PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream


    Purse: $5.9 million ($1,062,000 to winner)

    Courses: PGA West, Stadium Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,113); PGA West, Nicklaus Tournament Course, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,159); La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta, Calif. (72-7,060) NOTE: All three courses will be used for the first three rounds but only the Stadium Course will be used for the final round.

    Defending champion: Hudson Swafford (-20) - defeated Adam Hadwin by one stroke to earn his first PGA Tour win.


    Notables in the field

    Phil Mickelson

    * This is his first start of 2018. It's the fourth consecutive year he has made this event the first one on his yearly calendar.

    * For the second year in a row he will serve as the tournament's official ambassador.

    * He has won this event twice - in 2002 and 2004.

    * This will be his 97th worldwide start since his most recent win, The Open in 2013.


    Jon Rahm

    * Ranked No. 3 in the world, he finished runner-up in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

    * In 37 worldwide starts as a pro, he has 14 top-5 finishes.

    * Last year he finished T-34 in this event.


    Adam Hadwin

    * Last year in the third round, he shot 59 at La Quinta Country Club. It was the ninth - and still most recent - sub-60 round on Tour.

    * In his only start of 2018, the Canadian finished 32nd in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.


    Brian Harman

    * Only player on the PGA Tour with five top-10 finishes this season.

    * Ranks fifth in greens in regulation this season.

    * Finished third in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and T-4 in the Sony Open in Hawaii.


    Brandt Snedeker

    * Making only his third worldwide start since last June at the Travelers Championship. He has been recovering from a chest injury.

    * This is his first start since he withdrew from the Indonesian Masters in December because of heat exhaustion.

    * Hasn't played in this event since missing the cut in 2015.


    Patrick Reed

    * Earned his first career victory in this event in 2014, shooting three consecutive rounds of 63.

    * This is his first start of 2018.

    * Last season finished seventh in strokes gained: putting, the best ranking of his career.

    (Stats provided by the Golf Channel editorial research unit.)