WHAT GETS MEASURED GETS IMPROVED: UTILISING KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
Following on from my last post on building habits to get you towards your goals I wanted to address the concept of Key Performance Indicators (or KPI’s for short). KPI’s are how you know if the new habits you instilled are having the desired effect and getting you towards your goals.
As the old adage goes “what gets measured gets improved", and KPI’s are the things you are tracking to measure progress.
How do I know what my KPI’s are or what should I be tracking?
If Rory were using his TrackMan drive data as a KPI
I'm sure he'd be pretty happy with this!
This will depend on your goals but as your reading this blog let’s assume your goals are to improve your golf performance, increase clubhead speed and maybe get out of some pain.
If improve golf performance is ultimately the goal then the immediately the most logical thing to track is handicap or stroke average so that is our first KPI. Next we may want to track things other basic stats like putts per round, greens in regulation (GIR), fairways in regulation (FIR) or drive distance and even trackman numbers such as face to path or angle of attack.
After this we need to get into the real nitty gritty of how to we know our fitness and exercise interventions are having the desired effect (this is a training blog after all!).
To my mind there are 5 major pillars in terms of physical preparation for golf. I’ll expand on these in much more detail in a later article but for now, briefly, they are - movement, strength, power, conditioning and recovery.
These pillars obviously form the cornerstones of our programming philosophy here at Stronger Golf, but they also inform the KPI’s we use with our coaching clients.
With our online coaching clients for example we track:
Movement is assessed by a monthly posture and movement screen over Skype or FaceTime and by analysing video of key correctives being performed
Strength through charting PR’s on certain lifts and calculating overall training load of sessions
Power using standing long jump and/or clubhead speed measures
Conditioning and recovery are two sides of the same coin to some extent and are a both tracked using resting heart rate, a dot test or HRV check for CNS function, an exhale/ breathing mechanics assessment (again carried out over Skype or FaceTime) and self-reported questionnaires detailing things like soreness level, etc
Another really useful assessment we do on the conditioning side, when appropriate, is to track the difference in a players score and fatigue levels (either self-reported measures, heart rate or HRV) between the first 6, middle 6 and last 6 holes over a handful of rounds. A large difference between performance on the early holes and those later holes may indicate a conditioning problem.
All this is great but all of those stats on my golf game and my workouts - that’s a lot of stuff to track!
When you have people like us and/or a golf coach around sorting your training/ golf performance and tracking this stuff, like it’s...you know a job or something, we can keep track of a ton of stuff.
However, we aren’t just collecting that data for fun - all the data we collect informs the overall picture of the persons training and allows us to continually adapt their programs based on their successes and needs.
Track only the data you can take action on If you're organising your own training and it isn’t your job this will need to be less or at least easy to collect. I would suggest only tracking your handicap (easy because it already done for you) and your drive distance. I would also monitor strength improvements in one key exercise, as well as monitoring your heart rate and soreness levels. If there is a technical improvement you are chasing that can be encapsulated by a TrackMan number - such as angle of attack if you are trying to shallow the club path from the top - monitor that too.
Note: I say drive distance as there is scientifically valid correlation between handicap and clubhead speed as well as statistical evidence to suggest that distance to hole after the first shot is one of the most important predictors of score for amateurs - i.e. the closer to the hole you are with the first shot the closer to the hole you will be after the second shot and so forth, therefore the better your score.
In sum, work on building good habits to improve your golf performance, but make sure to track a few KPI’s along the way. Tracking KPI’s is key to keeping the process effective, keeping you engaged with it and keeping you focused on the activities that actually get you towards your goals.
Fradkin, AJ, Sherman, CA & Finch, CF (2004), How well does clubhead speed correlate with golf handicaps?, Journal of science and medicine in sports (7), 4, pp. 465-472.
Hartman, B (2017) All gain, No pain: Over 40’s man’s comeback guide, Personal Record Press LLC.