Sunday, January 17, 2010

Whole Brain Planet Book Review

I decided what I will do with the blog is that I will post my blog on my MESSAGE BOARD first, and set it up so only members of the message board can read it and get the first look at it. Then later on, about 24 hours later, I will put up the post here on the regular blog site. I think this will help provide some more incentive for people to join the message board which I believe will be one of the best, informative and fun golf message boards on the internet.

Anyway, I wanted to get into my review of the book 'Whole Brain Planet.'

Unfortunately, I first came across the Whole Brain Planet with this YouTube video.

It drew my ire in this blog post. I dismissed the video because I erroneously assumed that it was another person trying to teach some method of swinging the golf club and I am into golfer's learning a swing pattern that is something that they can execute with great repeatability.

I then learned that the book wasn't about a swing pattern and instead it was about being ambidextrous and improving hand-eye coordination.

When I saw that I could get the downloadable version of the book for $10, I decided to give it a look.

I can say this...

I was instantly impressed with it.

For starters, the learn of becoming ambidextrous appealed to me for many reasons. For years I had thought about if I could possibly do it over again, I would love to become ambidextrous. I thought it could lead to many great things, particularly in sports. In fact, when I came across the story of ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte (who now works with Whole Brain Planet founder Michael Lavery).

However, this appealed to me long before that. In my hometown in Upstate NY, there is a golfer that played on mini-tours and the Canadian Tour back before the Nationwide Tour was around. It was thought that he probably could have made the PGA Tour if the Nationwide Tour was around during his years as a pro, but the lack of a Nationwide Tour provided less opportunity and less experience.

Eventually he regained his amateur status back and went on to be arguably the best amateur in the state of NY. And this was while he worked THREE different jobs and played and practiced no more than once a week. In his first year back as an amateur he made it to the quarterfinals of the US Am, beating Manny Zerman (who was ranked #2 amateur at the time) and then losing to Justin Leonard.

Again, he did this while working THREE different jobs and playing about once a week, along with living in upstate NY where you get about 5 decent enough months of weather to play golf.

Anyway, one day I was golfing with him and he hit his drive by a tree about 130 yards away from the flag and he had no shot. Then he just casually flipped his club upside down, took a beautiful swing left handed (again, with a right handed club) and fired it dead at the flag and it wound up 20 feet from the cup. He then put his club back in his bag and casually walked towards the green like nothing unusual happened. My friend and I had to pick our jaws up off the ground.

At the time I figured it was just a case of a man having phenomenal hand-eye coordination and talent. But I also thought that if I had learned to be ambidextrous and could swing left handed pretty well, it would sure make swinging a club right handed easy.

But I thought at the time that being ambidextrous is something you basically learn to do at a very early age and those days were long gone.

Whole Brain Planet shows us that is not only untrue, but is something we can learn rather quickly if we work hard enough.

And while I'm in the infancy stages of trying it out, it does make sense. We know that people who have their dominant arm amputated often times learn how to use their other arm quite well. People who lose their dominant eye almost instantly have their other eyeball work like their dominant eye because it's forced to do so.

One of the great things about the book is that it's extremely cheap to do the drills and more importantly, Lavery shows how it can be extremely beneficial to, of all sports, golf.

Lavery came about learning about ambidextrous people from his days as an avid tennis player. While he had a good forehand, his backhand was very weak and after awhile opponents would just hit balls to his backhand and he could not do anything about it.

Eventually, by accident (seems like many great golf revelations start off by accidents) Lavery switched his racket to his left hand and pasted a forehand with his weak hand against his opponent. From there, he became determined to learn how to use both hands when playing tennis and find out everything he could about ambidextrous people and how to become ambidextrous. He later put this forth to golf, a game he played only a few times and applied what he did with his tennis game to the golf game and eventually came up with some new drills to help with his coordination. Check out this video for some of his drills he has come up with.

Eventually Lavery became a scratch golfer in less than a year.

The book itself is pretty easy to understand and what I like about it is that it's pretty easy to skim thru in the sense there are clear sections of the book where Lavery is getting into the 'nuts and bolts' of how the brain actually works. So for the person who just wants to learn how to become more ambidextrous, they can skip that part and get into the drills and such.

However, if you want proof...particularly scientific proof of what happens with the brain and why becoming ambidextrous is a HEALTHY thing to learn, Lavery has plenty of supporting, top notch evidence backing that up as well.

I'm not very well versed science wise, but one of the things that *instantly* got me hooked on the book was Lavery talks about penmanship and its importance in developing motor skills and how it can help you become ambidextrous.

One of my other hobbies is watching FBI Files type of TV shows and the science of graphology (the study of handwriting). FBI profilers often use graphology to help create a profile of a criminal if they have a copy of the criminal's handwriting. The profilers can use to to determine even finite details such as tragic events that happened to the criminal at a certain age, speech impediments, what type of job they may have, etc. It's really fascinating stuff. In fact, here's a good video discussing graphology.

As you can see in the video, the person with really odd and I guess you could say awful handwriting is a supposed vicious criminal and somebody you wouldn't want 'dating your daughter.' It's a natural instinct to think that just by looking at the handwriting and that instinct is very accurate.

I think the same goes for excellent handwriting, which usually is a trait brilliant people often have. So if you can improve your hand writing, I believe it stands to reason that you are improving at the very least your brain power, coordination and motor skill.

And while I'm a firm believer that the swing is very much the result of proper alignments and mechanics and limiting the dependence on hand-eye coordination...hand-eye coordination will always play a part in any golf swing.

In fact, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh can strike the ball incredibly well from either side. And probably the greatest 'switch hitting' golfer of all time is Mac O'Grady, who many feel is the greatest pure ball striker they ever saw.

I'm just getting into the beginning stages of the 'hammer drills' and I constantly work on the memorization drills. In fact, I can recite the 50 states alphabetically and do it backwords now. As time goes along I post videos of my progress with some of the drills. I can honestly say that I've seen some improvement in my coordination so far. And now that I'm making some adjustments to my golf swing, I hope that improving my coordination will help make those adjustments easier and quicker to execute.

For the book, go to the Whole Brain Planet Web site.



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Anonymous said...

My friend and I were recently discussing about the ubiquitousness of technology in our daily lives. Reading this post makes me think back to that debate we had, and just how inseparable from electronics we have all become.

I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Societal concerns aside... I just hope that as the price of memory decreases, the possibility of transferring our brains onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's a fantasy that I daydream about all the time.

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