Sean Van Staden
6 minute read
6 Jul 2019
8:00 am

Play golf like a beast and recover like a pro.

Sean Van Staden

What are some strategic recovery tactics a golfer can add to his game plan that will set him apart from the rest?

Picture: iStock

Golf has always been an amazing sport. And just like singles tennis you have only yourself to blame, or praise, for your decision making and shots. The evolution of golf is such that even though it has always been a very technologically driven sport with regards to golf clubs, players are being exposed to even bigger and better technologies both on the field and off. Golf, fortunately, is an expensive sport to play and before you start moaning and groaning, think of how the sport has grown in popularity and how much money has been thrown into its innovation.

This expands the market and allows others that are not golfers to be a part of the magic. All this brings extra sponsorship and revenues to the sport; ultimately growing the sport as a whole. I am a big believer in recovery and especially in golf. Each sport has its own challenges and physiological demands. The intensity levels might not be high for a golfer but ask them to walk an entire field day in and day out and then ask them to use their fine motor skills to finish a title winning putt.

Couple all of this with fans, media and competition pressure, and then you have a different reality for a golfer, and a simple sport becomes potentially very complicated.

What are some strategic recovery tactics a golfer can add to his game plan that will set him apart from the rest?


You all know how important water is for survival and for top performing athletes this becomes just as vital for their winning survival. Your body is made up of almost 60% water and water is essential for your muscles, organs and brain functioning. Water plays a key role in your brain because it provides the electrical energy for all brain functions including thoughts and memory. What is most needed to play golf? I dare say it, but it’s your brain. So if you are dehydrated by even 1%, this means you potentially will not be making the lightning fast decisions or allowing your neurons to fire at the pace that you are accustomed to as an athlete.

You also need to know that the minute your body is dehydrated, your body’s primary goal is to try to get back to homeostasis and balance which means your body will be working overtime to correct itself. This places unwanted stress on you physically and mentally. Stress is the last thing any golfer needs more of during his play. Balance – in the form of making sure you are well hydrated – will allow your swing to flow better and to play the game you have been practicing your whole life for.

My Pro-Tip: Weigh yourself at the start of each competition before you go on and then
weigh yourself at the mid-point and again at the end point. Any weight loss will mean water
loss through sweating and you will need to replace it immediately. If you really want Pro
Grade tech, then look to a medical grade body composition device.

Post-Game Recovery

This is where the game changer comes in and will separate the men from the boys in a few short years. Post-match recovery techniques will include ice baths, compression recovery boots, massages, saunas, muscle stimulating machines and even a sports psychologist for a game play debrief.

The intensity of golf is not high, but the length of play takes its toll on a player. Couple this with successive plays then you start to realize that if you want to play like a champ, you need to recover like a pro. The most important thing a golfer on the pro circuit can have is longevity of career. This means he/she is able to play more and potentially make more money and build a nest egg for their future. If this is single handily the most important thing for an up-and-coming golfer or pro golfer, then they need to start looking after themselves a little better.

How to do that?

The question you might ask is “why would a golfer get into an ice bath?” The answer is relatively simple. Golfers walk through hilly conditions about six to seven kilometres all the while building up lactic acid in their legs. They swing all day causing friction on their muscles, lower back and tendons. This friction, combined with the athlete’s weight and speed, causes the muscles to become inflamed and this is when swelling occurs.

This in return causes the body to restrict its range of motion to protect the areas from further damage. Sure, we are talking about fit pro golfers here, but all that this means is that their tolerance levels are higher due to good fitness. But the process still occurs. By jumping into a 10-degree ice bath for 11 minutes post-match will help reduce the swelling and inflammation of muscles and joints. By reducing the swelling, we allow the body to recover faster for next day’s play. Add a compression technology to the mix and your legs will feel rejuvenated. Add a good night’s rest with at least 8 hours sleep and you will have a pro playing at his best with minimal physical limitation.

My Pro-Tip: After your press media debriefing, head straight to the sports science recovery lounge; man up, use a gum guard if you have to and climb into an ice bath for 11 minutes. Dry off and slip on some compression boots for 20 minutes to help flush legs and then depending on time, follow up with a mild sports massage and sauna. Make sure during this entire process that you are sipping on a protein recovery shake. This is also a secret ingredient in player recovery regimen but remember you only have 20 minutes post-match to ingest it for maximum recovery to take effect.

It boils down to the unfair advantage over your competitors. Would you rather have fresh
legs going into the next day or tired legs from the previous? From an evolution of the sport,
if we as sports scientists help pro golfers recover better this means they will play better and
produce better scores and take the game to the next level.

Sean Van Staden

Sean Van Staden is the proud husband of an amazing woman and mom and the ‘Daddy Pig’ – (thank you Pepper Pig for brainwashing my children, in a good way) – of two little Gremlins, Jordan and Haylee, who are fast approaching three and four years of age. In his quest to give his children the tools to succeed, Sean’s blog tackles topics of nutrition, physical development, exercise, mental toughness, building confidence, self-esteem, sport, wellness, and just about anything that will help his children, and hopefully yours, grow in the right direction.

You can find Sean at ASP – Sports Science


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