TTW- Background Information

In my last post I shared that Training Tiger Woods (TTW) is an attempt to create a training program to help people overcome their limitations and maximize their potential.  Before I move forward, I should clarify that we are not doing this on a lark.  I have spent the last 20 years developing the techniques we are going to be using during this process.  These are tried and proven techniques that I have used working one on one with clients in a gym setting. So walking in, we know that exercise can in fact be used as a modality to help people overcome their limitations. Using sports and sports performance takes it one step further.

For those of you who might not know me, my name is Jerry Siravo.  I am the founder of A Way of Life Fitness Consulting.  I have a BS in Kinesiology and I am a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).  My work focuses on injury rehabilitation and helping people re-establish balance within their lives.  My hope is that the TTW program is going to be a stepping stone for teaching the principles that I have developed to larger and more diverse groups of people.

The obvious question seems to be, why use golf?

We chose golf for several reasons. First, golf is hard. The fact that it’s hard to play golf well is generally accepted by most people.  Therefore, significant improvement by either of us will be a ringing endorsement for our training methods. Second, improvement is easily measured. At the end of each round you have a ‘report card’ that shows how well you played against the golf course that day.  Third, neither of us are proficient in the sport.  Ben has never broken 100 strokes over 18 holes.  In my past, a very long time ago, I broke 90 once.  These days I typically shoot between 96 and 105.  Fourth, we both enjoy practicing and playing the game. Since we are going to be spending lots of our time working on this, we might as well have fun while doing it.

Our first order of business will be to get Ben healthy. He is currently recovering from a separated shoulder that he hurt playing soccer. As soon as he has recovered we will play a round and see where exactly we are starting from. (Neither of us has played a full round of golf this season.)

Our initial goals are as follows.  By the end of next golfing season, approximately a year from now, Ben wants to be routinely breaking 100.  Myself, I hope to be shooting in the high 80’s on a regular basis.  Because we are going to teach each other without any outside help or lessons we can insure that our improvement is a byproduct of our training program.

Now that the background has been set and our goals established, it’s time to begin.  Wish us luck.

Training Tiger Woods–Ben’s Introduction

After the U.S. Open, you could just tell that Tiger wasn't likely to make the cut at any of the other Majors either. It's not that he doesn't have the physical game anymore--on any given shot he's still capable of performing at the level of the best in the world. His physical injuries haven't depleted him so much, and golf has not become so totally the playground of the young and powerful that Woods, now 39 and past his physical peak, can no longer compete.

But by the Open, back in June, I'd been working with Jerry long enough to see pretty clearly when a top athlete is or isn't in flow. And let me tell you, just seeing highlights from the Open, it was totally clear that Tiger's energy is totally off, and without a radically different approach to how he approaches the game, it isn't going to get back on. He's rebuilt his swing again and again over the course of his career, a process he's continuing now, but the swing isn't the problem. Indeed, that constant upheaval is one of the clear symptoms of the actual problem. He's off energetically. Until he starts to focus on the problem as an energy problem rather than a physical problem, he won't return to anything like the form that made him so utterly dominant.

Now, I know what Jerry's work with me has done in my life--in rough summary, it's changed everything, and is still changing everything, and my life is vastly better than it was, and I have every reason to believe it will continue to get better. That led me to wonder: what would happen if Jerry could work with Tiger?

I came back from my road trip in early July and I gave Jerry an assignment. "Tiger Woods is going to miss the cut in the British and the PGA and when he does he'll be done for the year. If at that point he isn't utterly in crisis, well, he should be. And I know you could help him. As an exercise, I want you to write a letter to Tiger introducing yourself, offering your services, and telling him you could help him."

Jerry liked the idea. He drafted the letter. Then We tried to imagine what to do next. We could think of some places to send the letter (Tiger's agent seemed the most likely bet) but the likelihood of it getting to Tiger, much less that Tiger would understand that he was holding in his hand the Golden Ticket, seemed pretty small.

The project got us asking some interesting questions, though. Elite athletes clearly have a profound intuitive understanding of energy flow. But all else being equal, do they excel by dint of being genetic outliers, or do they instead meet a potential that's latent in all of us but rarely touched in our lives? We didn't know, and don't know still. But we recognized that most people have vast amounts of unmet potential.

We began to conceptualize a training program that would allow people to develop their potential. And our initial subjects would be--will be--ourselves.

Jerry's been developing techniques over the past 20 years that, in briefest summary, teach what is commonly referred to as flow. As a student of these techniques, I can attest that they have the potential to foster major change in one's life. What we're doing here, though, is a bit more specific. We're aiming to use these techniques in spheres of athletic endeavor in which neither of is an expert, hoping to create something of feedback loop in which we experiment and essentially teach each other.

There's one last thing I should say, and this is very important: We're working in the field of exercise and athletics not to make it the dominant focus of our lives--we're both over 40, and there's no professional sports career out there for either of us. We're working in athletics because it narrows our focus and allows us to play without over-complicating things. Also, athletics allows measurement of improvement that a broader view of life might not. Being able to say, "My life is vastly better," while deeply valuable, is also purely subjective. But you can easily notice that you bench press twice what you used to, or that your average golf score has dropped seven strokes. All of that is useful. But what we're really training to improve is the totality of our lives, and ultimately, by sharing these techniques, the lives of others.

Training Tiger Woods–Jerry’s Introduction

Before I explain what this is, I should explain how this idea came about. I was watching Sport Center with my good friend and writing coach, Ben. The talking heads on the screen were talking about Tiger not making the cut in the U.S. Open. So Ben, who also trains with me, asks “could you help Tiger be dominant again?” I smiled and explained why I thought I could if the circumstances were right. He gave me his whimsical smile and we moved on to the next topic.

A couple of days later we were meeting for a writing session and Ben says that he has an assignment for me. I’m to write a letter to Tiger Woods and explain how I could help him. We talk about the parameters of the assignment, he gave me six weeks to complete it because by then Tiger would have missed the cut in the British Open and missed the PGA championships (leaving him with plenty of spare time), and we moved on to the next topic.

Here’s the letter. If anyone reading this has access to Tiger or his people, please forward it on. I stand by my premise and feel strongly that I could truly help.

An open letter to Tiger Woods

It’s good to be the king! Tiger, when you were dominating the golf world you were truly the “king.” You were the most dominant player the world has ever seen. You strutted around the golf course like a young god daring those around you to defy your right to rule, while enjoying the spoils of success in a manner only those born to rule can. Now, I’m not here to judge, success has a way of enticing even the best into temptation. I’m sure all the great golfers of their day enjoyed the spoils of success. But they lived in a different time and almost a different place. Back then, there was a thing called privacy. Your private life was private. Now, not so much.

The way you walked the world and took what was yours by right, created a confluence of power, control, and grace. It was a marriage of energy, passion and complete physical dominance that changed the landscape of golf. You truly changed the game for ever. No longer is golf the play thing of the rich and privileged. We all like to play now.

Today, I watched Jason Day win his first Major with Jordan Spieth hot on his heels. After missing the cut in your third straight major, you were in Florida watching from your new business interest. That kind of sounds like another ‘has been’ moving on to the next phase of life. I can only hope it’s not so.
It’s not that I have anything against the young golfers who are dominating the scene right now. They are very talented and deserving of the praise they are receiving. It’s just they’re like golf used to be. But, if the king is dead – “long live the King.”

Somehow, I don’t think you’re quite done yet. You keep retooling your swing and putting yourself under the harsh scrutiny of society. The talent is still there. You are still one of the greatest athletes ever to play the game.

Your swing isn’t the problem. You can change it a thousand times and things still will not be right. You still won’t win.

When you look at the combination of social pressure, injury rehabilitation, and trying to redefine yourself as a man, a golfer and a father, it’s not a mystery why you haven’t succeeded.

There is an energetic balance that goes with success. When I watch you play, I don’t see a golfer struggling with his swing. I see an athlete out of balance. That state of balance and grace under pressure was once yours. It can be again.

We should talk. I can help.

Jerry Siravo CSCS

Founder of A Way of Life Fitness Consulting.

The writing process led to some interesting questions and ideas. For example, what separates us average people from the truly great athletes? Are they born gifted with more potential than the rest of us? Or do they just achieve that potential to a higher degree? Whatever it is, we agreed that most of us live lives of unfulfilled potential. We could do more and be more. We all have our reasons, excuses, and stories for why we haven’t achieved our potential. I’ll even go so far as to accept that often our reasons are legitimate. Whatever the reason, we haven’t been able to rise up and overcome our limitations and maximize our potential.

The simple idea that we could all do and be more led Ben and myself to this idea.

We are going to develop a training program that helps people achieve to their highest potential.

We will share this process with you both here and on my site at I will be posting my views and insights on the process most Mondays and Ben will follow with his on Fridays. Our goal is to make this process as interactive as possible. We would love to hear your opinions and will gladly answer questions during this process.