People talk about marginal gains a lot in sport. In this blog I discuss six areas that can all influence the level of fatigue you experience and how you react to the golf, training and any other physical activity you undertake. Each of these could well be considered a marginal gain; those one percent margins that separate you from the rest of the field.
We start by establishing what external and internal load are, and why it is important to monitor your golf, training, and other physical activity load.
If you haven’t done so already – Check out a previous blog post on
the importance of monitoring load.
Training load is the work the athlete completes, and it can be separated into two measurable components:
External Load and Internal Load
When conducting any physical activity (e.g., golf, strength & conditioning sessions), you experience external load. This is the act of carrying out the activity and is measured external to the body (e.g., distance covered, volume load of lifts in the gym). How the body reacts to this, in the form of the psychophysiological response, is known as the internal load. This is the combination of the mental perception of the load and the physical response. The internal load can be monitored through measures such as heart rate, and perceived exertion (i.e., how hard you feel you’ve worked to complete the activity) etc. Everyone’s internal load will of course be different for the same given external load and this is why it is important to monitor individual responses.
Check out the infographic below for more information on the moderators of internal load:
We know that to get the desired functional adaptations (e.g., strength gains in the gym) we must optimize the psychophysiological response. Coaches (golf / S&C / physios) are often the people who prescribe the external load. This can be relatively easy to measure (e.g., via the amount of practice you do, or the weight lifted in each repetition in the gym). Undertaking this physical activity results in the internal load. Alongside this, it is important to recognise that there are external factors that can moderate the internal load and that these are independent of the external load. As such, it is possible to put effective strategies in place to minimize any negative impact these may have, and instead, maximize the positives that can be gained from the moderators.
Dr Ben Langdown is a Senior Lecturer in Sports Coaching at The Open University and has published various journal papers in the area of golf and sports science. Specifically, Ben's research focuses on athlete monitoring, warm-up protocols, and training interventions in the sport of golf. Ben is also a Strength and Conditioning Coach for England Golf and over the past 15 years has provided biomechanics and S&C support to golfers from amateurs through to European (Men’s and Ladies’) Tours and a European Senior Tour Season Champion. Ben has presented at 4 World Golf Fitness Summits and the 2018 World Scientific Congress of Golf, where he also acted as an invited review panel member supporting education for >150 academics/coaches. He has delivered various invited keynote workshops with international organisations, including England Golf, The PGAs of GB&I, Spain, Czech Republic and Slovakia with all adopting his applied approaches. Most recently, Ben has developed the AMI Sports: Golf athlete monitoring app allowing further insight into golfers’ practice, tournaments, training and daily wellbeing.