07 May 2020

How Rory McIlroy removes distractions during tournament week with a strict ‘phone diet’

The world’s number one golfer, Rory McIlroy, has recently been interviewed on the Whoop podcast by Will Ahmed, who asked the Northern Irishman a variety of questions based on fitness, mindset, diet and other off-course subjects that play a huge part in making a champion golfer.

What is Whoop?

Whoop is a fitness tracker that is worn by some of the biggest names in golf. It measures your sleep, workout intensity (and how your body recovers from your workouts). Plus, it provides advice on how to improve all of those areas. Whoop relies on HRV, Heart Rate and other metrics to assess sleep quality, workout strain and recovery, using LEDs and photo plethysmography get those measurements.

McIlroy, who has just turned 31-years-old, spoke about distractions during golf events, and how he blocks out anything that could prevent him staying fully focused.

How to block out distractions during tournaments?

“Last year I made a promise to myself that during tournaments, I would not watch any golf, or listen to what the media say or read any news articles,” he said. “I just shut myself off from all of that.”

However, we live in a digital world where we constantly have access to our smart phones, social media and the internet. How does the world number one avoid this?

“I’m a big believer in less is more, with phones. I read a book called Digital Minimalism by Kyle Newport last year, that really opened my eyes to what happens to your brain when you’re on your phone for any length of time.”

McIlroy talks about ‘piriform cortex’ and how that inhibits your cognition and decision-making. “I’m not going to restrict myself from using my phone, but I have an app. called ‘Freedom,’ which is basically a URL blocker that can block Instagram, Twitter, any just about any platform – I can even block certain words on google to keep myself totally focused.

“I have a healthy relationship with my phone, although that’s not always been the case, I used to spend a lot of time on Twitter etc. It became habit-forming. Now, if I want to use it, it has to be intentionally, not because it’s a habit,” He added.

“I read an article which argued that the biggest thing that happened in the 20th century was that people realised what the danger of overconsumption of food and drink did to your mind and body, so people started to exercise and worked out to get fit.  In the 21st century people realised that overconsumption of information forces you to follow a mental diet and detox, basically adopting an information diet for the benefit of your mental health, which is so prevalent in this day and age. I believe it will be one of the biggest revelations for this generation. “

Not only is McIlroy an unbelievably great golfer, but a superb athlete with a positive outlook and mindset that separates him from the rest of the field.

“I like to switch off at golf tournaments,” he says. “When I get back off the course, I enjoy watching a few television shows to decompress. When we played in Mexico, I thought it would be good to watch Narcos. I couldn’t wait to get back and watch a few episodes.”


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