Swing King: Can golf help Houston Texans’ Isaac Yiadom play cornerback?
HOUSTON – Arnold Palmer once explained that golf is nothing more than a mental game between mind and body.
“Golf is a game of thumbs,” Palmer said. “The most important are the six inches between your ears.”
Houston Texans cornerback Isaac Yiadom might be the only player who understands how the two sports interrelate. He’s an avid player off the grid, often trying to get to the course and shoot a new personal low round.
Prior to the start of training camp, Yiadom played a round at Wildcat Golf Club just outside of Houston. Hoping to cross the 90, things took a turn after the 15th green. He stared at an 88 before realizing what the score was.
A rookie mistake.
The nerves entered the last three holes. Easy swings became hocks in the woods, leading to a 92. And while that’s a career high, he knows he can play better.
It’s similar to how he feels when he’s working cover during training camp.
“It’s 100% translatable,” Yiadom said. “When you hit a bad shot, you really have to reset. It’s the same when playing corner. If you give up a big play, you have to reset.
“If you think about that last shot, you’re going to hit another ball. It’s the same thing. You have to reset and go back to your fundamentals.”
A former Boston College third-round pick, Houston offers Yiadom the opportunity to further his playing career. In a way, his career has often been reset.
After two years in Denver, Yiadom was traded to the New York Giants. A year later, he was traded to the Green Bay Packers, eventually carving out a special teams role as one of the top gunners.
This is where Yiadom shines best. He said that’s where he started his career and what makes him an asset to a roster in any organization.
“These guys, obviously when they join the group, they’re ready to do some dirty work, and it’s a kicking game, it’s the fourth down,” the teams coordinator said on Wednesday. Texans special Frank Ross on Yiadom and teammate MJ Stewart. “They’ve done a good job so far.”
Yiadom’s content playing special teams if that helps him make the final roster of 53 players, but that’s not the end goal. No one gets better by sitting on the sidelines and being limited in their rep count.
He has a notebook filled to the brim with goals and expectations. On those he has accomplished, there is a line crossed. Every day after practice, he will review the notebook, turning to a future accomplishment while hopefully scribbling a black line through the completed one.
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Make no mistake about it, once the goal is achieved, it’s not as simple as moving on. Yiadom ensures reps are not only perfected physically, but also mentally.
“I’ve been doing this at every camp since my rookie year,” Yiadom said. “It’s a way to make sure I don’t make the same mistake twice.”
The goals for 2022 are illustrious to say the least. Yiadom hopes not to allow a touchdown in preseason game coverage. He also wants to record more than five interceptions.
So far, turnovers have gone left and right in practice. On the first day of training camp, Yiadom knocked out quarterback Kyle Allen twice. A day later, he brought home a pickaxe during 7-on-7 drills.
“He’s physical, likes to tackle. Our corners have to want to tackle,” Texans coach Lovie Smith said. “He will be a special team contributor for us. A good addition since he came to the building.
“[He] does everything we are looking for in a corner.
In golf, players have a variety of clubs at their disposal to reduce their handicap. It is the same with the game corner. A conductor could be considered as a power. A 7 iron is agility. A putter can be tied to the tackle as both close the deal.
Yiadom’s favorite club to use is his pitching wedge. When he started playing, the 26-year-old wanted to learn the ins and outs first, so he used the wedge on every swing for rehearsal.
It’s similar to how Yiadom had to learn to trust his hands in cover. Since being drafted, he has recorded 12 pass breakups.
Since he started the sport a year ago, Yiadom has come a long way. He now swings the pilot to prepare his next move. Irons and putters are second nature at this stage. And yes, he is still looking to master the pitching wedge as well.
The club Yiadom wants to improve next is his 6 iron. It’s not that he can’t use it, he just wants to master the swing path.
It compares it to its hedging capacity when it causes turnover. When the ball arrives, the game must end with the ball on the ground. The other tools – like his clubs – will follow closely.
“You have to perfect your off-coverage, your press, and it’s the same with golf,” Yiadom said. “You have to perfect your pitching wedge before you can move on to your 6 or 7 iron.”
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