I have bought a few golf magazines to pick up some more tips on how to improve and after flicking through the pages I noticed the amount of advertising for new equipment, something not unusual to see in Football Magazines and it started me thinking about what you need to excel in a sport. I wondered what you actually need to focus on to make big improvements in your chosen game and what you need to ignore.
When I was a boy I played with friends who were more concerned with having the latest equipment, rather than focusing on what you do with the equipment. In fact even as a professional Football player I noticed many players totally absorbed by the latest football boot design. Golfing magazines are awash with adverts for "larger sweet spots", "top performance putters", "titanium cup faces", "fusion technology", "forged cavity irons" etc etc.
If you aspire to be a great footballer or golfer, the equipment should not be the focus of your game. There have been massive improvements in Equipment manufacturing (especially in golf, where players now average 300 yard drives and can often Drive over 400 yards) yet it is the practice that counts. Play, play and play again. Or I should say Practice, practice and practice again. Learn how a ball spins, moves, stops, swerves, curves and bounces in all conditions whether rain, snow or shine.
Repeating every aspect of your game is the key, simulating match situations so that you are confident in pressure situations whether it is taking a penalty at Wembley against Pepe Reina or driving a 1 wood, 300 yards at Wentworth Golf Course. That is what training drills are for. To replicate situations of games so that you are totally prepared. Training drills can get dull but they are the essence of success in any sport and you will need to find a way to get excited every day about the prospect of repeating an exercise you have done 100s if not 1,000s of times before.
If you are a young player, do yourself a favour (or your parents) and save yourself a lot of money. Unless your boots are falling apart or your golf clubs are bent or 50 years out of date, keep them. Read the golf and football magazines but ignore the advertising for the latest products and concentrate on the tips and advice from the pros. The important stuff in the magazines is the information that can be picked up from the professionals, such as how much they practice, how they practice and when they practice.
Professional sportsmen/women are extremely dedicated people and have the luxury of using the latest equipment but their skills were not honed to perfection by the equipment. The equipment enhances already perfected skills. You cannot make a racehorse out of a donkey, even if the Donkey is wearing Adidas Predator Boots and swinging a Titleist 905R Driver with Titanium body and beta-titanium insert with large sweet spot to boot.