Working hard with my coaches

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Ryann O'Toole didn't take up golf until age 12, but from that moment on, it was all she wanted to do.

Hi everyone, my name is Ryann O'Toole, and I am a member of the LPGA Tour. Not only is this my first blog with espnW, this is my first blog ever! I am pumped to have this privilege to share my adventures this coming season: ups and downs (let's hope not too many downs), lessons I learn along the way, tips on the course and in the gym, what kind of training I do, and whatever else you want to know about me!

I have just begun my fourth year on tour. I began playing golf when I was 12. Family friends took me to a junior lesson at San Clemente Municipal Golf Course in California with teaching professional Rocky Rafkin. It was the first time I picked up a club or saw a course, but this $5, 30-minute group lesson changed my life forever. From that moment on there was nothing else I wanted to do.

I did, however, play other sports at the time. I've probably played every team sport possible: basketball, baseball, softball, soccer, roller hockey, volleyball. I was also a big skateboarder, surfer, snowboarder and wakeboarder. Anything with a board came fairly easily, and then there was golf!

Courtesy of Ryann O'Toole

Any sport with a board comes easily for Ryann O'Toole.

I have never done something else that challenges me in every way possible. Not only is golf physically demanding, it is mentally one of the hardest sports out there. I have played with many top professional athletes, past presidents, CEOs of multimillion- and billion-dollar companies, all of whom say golf challenges them in ways no other sport does. Golf is truly an amazing game, and I am blessed to have it be such a huge part of my life.

The Olympics had me thinking that not a day goes by that I don't think about golf, or want to get a club in my hand. Can you imagine training for almost four years for just one moment? These athletes over in Sochi are doing just that, pouring their heart and soul and everything they've done for the past four years into this one event. Crazy, because whether they win or lose, the moment it’s all over they’re right back to training.

I bring this up is because I now have a month away from competition, which is about as much time as we have off in our offseason. Here are these amazing Olympians who train for four years before they can let it shine. I believe it takes great mental strength to go that long prepping for one single event.

I began to piece together what their practice and preparation might be, how they manage and build over that time period so they can peak at the right moment. Rather than thinking about the lack of competition I am getting by missing two events, I am strategizing and thinking like an Olympian. Over the next four weeks I will be prepping for two events, hopefully three in a row. I will use my time wisely to ensure that I am not only physically but mentally ready to tee it up that Thursday in Phoenix at the RR Donnelley Founders Cup.

I will work hard with my swing coach, Brad Brewer, the next two weeks on a few key changes, and then taper back the changes for the last two weeks and find a comfortable rhythm I can become confident with to take into competition. I will use those last two weeks to key on a "go-to shot," a shot I can rely on under pressure.

Also, these next four weeks I will be working with my mental coach, Dr. Bhrett McCabe. Our focus will be on spiking my heart rate and teaching me to slow down and get control of my nerves so I can hit a controlled shot. The second thing we will work hard on is my visualization. When going through big swing changes, you tend to see shots of all shapes, and sometimes shots you never thought you'd hit. Now that my changes are starting to set in, and I am producing good shots, I need to start seeing and believing I can hit the shot I want.

Lastly, but never forgotten, I will be working with my trainer, Andrea Doddato, on strengthening the areas that need a little extra work. Swing changes involve making moves your body isn’t used to. The gym can really help speed up this process. You wouldn't believe that a golfer needs to have a well-balanced body, but we do! It is very important to keep good flexibility and strength in all areas.

My goal these next four weeks is to keep my body as healthy as I can, from eating right to strength training, sprint training, foam rolling, stretching, massage, yoga (great for the mind and body), and surfing twice a week to give my mind a chance to check out and check into something else super cool!