We managed to catch up with Spanish golfer Rafa Cabrera-Bello here at the Scottish Open this week. He is a 2 x winner on the European Tour, having won the 2009 Austrian Open and the 2012 Dubai Desert Classic. Rafa is well known as being one of the fittest golfers on tour and excels at many sports including surfing.
Hi Rafa, thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule to have a chat with us.
1)How important is fitness and health to you as a professional golfer?
Health obviously is very important to me as it is vital to playing well and being consistent, ensuring I can play without fatigue and helps you hit the ball longer and other evident benefits from being stronger and more flexible. The game of golf has changed so much in the last 30 years and now you need to be able to generate and control huge forces and speeds and have a body that can tolerate that and keeping fit and healthy is vital to playing high level golf and prolonging your career.
2)How important is the Tour’s medical service and Physiotherapy Unit to you and your game?
The Physio Unit is an extremely important part of the European Tour and to my game. The truck comes to most tournaments on the European Tour or the team travel with mobile equipment to other far away events without the truck. It is great to know if we have any problems we can get immediate treatment and help and that we can get accurate and quick diagnosis and care which helps us to be safer on the course and minimise disruption from injury. Myself as a user I visit the truck most days at least once sometimes twice to do stretching and workouts.
3)What aspects of the service do you find the most beneficial?
There is always the option for treatment whenever I need it, especially in emergencies and acute injuries, and I know I have excellent physios and doctors at hand that I can rely on and use to help me perform my best. Quite often we travel to places/hotels that don’t have gyms of exercise facilities but the physio unit has a good area to workout and selection of exercise equipment that is great for me to do my training.
4)You’re well known as being one of the fittest golfers on tour. How much time a week do you spend training/preparing?
During tournament weeks I spend between 6 – 8 hours a week of training and stretching. On my off weeks I can spend 10 hours maybe more and this is where I tend to do heavier weights and intense sessions.
5)What advice would you give amateur golfers regarding preparation and fitness?
Fitness is a vital aspect of playing good golf and the younger you start the easier it is to keep it up, prevent bad habits and improve your game. I would suggest golfers start working on their general fitness at a young age and ensure that they warm up properly before they play each and every time.
6)What are key areas of your body you work on in physical preparation to help your game?
The key area for me is my core. I want to try and gain strength, speed and explosive strength in my limbs whilst having a strong core. This is the focus of much of my training and the type of exercise I do.
7)How important is diet to you? Are there any foods you try to eat /avoid ? What do you eat/drink during a typical round of golf?
Nutrition is important to me. I don’t follow an extreme diet or weigh and measure exact calories but I do try and eat healthily and ensure I have good energy reserves in my body. I eat bananas on the course after 6-9 holes and then 3-4 holes later I eat nuts. Before I play I always eat carbs (pasta) if I play in the afternoon or a big bowl of sugar free cereal if I’m playing in the morning. On playing days I always try to ensure I have natural fructose (sugars from fruits) and carbohydrates (from pasta) in my body. Water intake is very important to me and this varies depending on the weather/heat, I probably drink 3-5 litres of water a day at least. In extreme heat I also add hydration salts into the water.
8)How many golf balls do you hit on a typical day?
Tournament day I would probably hit between 100-150 balls, at home I would probably hit up to 200 practice balls a day.
9)What’s you’re favourite golf course?
Pebble beach. It is an incredible course with stunning views and the best test of golf I have ever played.
10)What’s you’re favourite tournament?
11)What’s the best shot you ever hit?
The driver I hit on the 3rd hole playoff on the 17th in cologne at the BMW international. Both of the others (3 of the 4 players in the play-off were left) had already drove the green and there is a bunker on the left and water short and to the right and had perfect drive with a little fade and I was 12 foot away for an eagle. That was such a pressure for shot for me on the tee and to have the faith in my swing and body to be able to visualise and hit the shot I wanted as well as that was extremely satisfying.
12)Best moment of your career?
Shooting an 11 under par 60 on the last round to win my first European tour event by 1 shot at the Austrian Open in 2009. That was a very special day.
13) And finally what one piece of advice would you give to amateur golfers to improve their game?
Easy, practice your short game. You can improve your scores much quicker by concentrating on that.
Thanks Rafa, good luck for the weekend and next week at The Open!
Rafa was speaking to one of our physios Nigel Tilley – 12/07/2014