Jack Carty reveals how technology improved his goalkicking
Connacht fly-half Jack Carty has said that the use of a 'focus coach' has helped improve his goalkicking this season.
Carty became Connacht's all-time leading points scorer this season and he leads the PRO14 this year in points scored with 149 in just 22 games. Furthermore, he is also fourth in try assists with 10, fifth in conversions made and third in penalties converted.
He admits that some of his stats may be padded due to the amount of games he's played in comparison to some other players but he did note that becoming a better goal kicker was one of the main goals of his at the start of the season.
"Well, firstly, it was to get into an Irish camp before Christmas and I managed to get into one in September and I managed to do that," Carty said of his pre-season goals.
"Then after that it was to get into the top three pecking order or whatever it was at the time and then try to get one cap. Fortunately, with injuries I managed to get three and with regards to everything else I wanted to get my goal kicking up to 80% or more.
"I had been a mid-70s to low-70s goal kicker three or four years ago and I wasn't going to get from 72 to 80 over night so it was a gradual thing where I'd try to get from 72% to 75%, 75% to 80%, and I'm on that radar at the moment so hopefully if I can kick well over the next couple of weeks and maintain that."
Carty's current goalkicking percentage for this season is at 79.2% according to the PRO14 database, and while he has worked with specialist kicking coaches like the IRFU's Richie Murphy in the past, he puts his progress over the last few seasons down to focus coaching and clearing his mind.
"Nah it would never have been the amount of training or the amount of kicking sessions o the amount of balls you'd kick, it was more about the quality of what I was doing at the time," added Carty.
"I obviously changed my process to no matter where it was or the score, or any external things, it was always going to be the same so this season I've started using a focus coach in Galway. It's quite difficult to explain but it measures how you can block out conscious thoughts and tap into your subconscious no matter where or what you're doing.
"Dave Heffernan and I use it and what it effectively is you put a headband around your head and it measures different brainwaves that your brain is outputting and then you put an iPad in front of you and something pops up on your screen and when your brainwaves pop up on the screen and you're in the correct threshold it's green and when you're not it's red. It teaches your brain that whenever you're in the correct threshold it releases dopamine to be in the correct mind frame.
"When I've explained it to some people they think it's the biggest gimmick in the world so some fellas might use it and it mightn't work for them but it might be two or three percent for others and it adds up so yeah hopefully it can keep working for me."
The Six Nations was largely a forgettable experience for a lot of the Irish squad but for Carty it was his first real taste of international rugby and he said he learned a lot from the campaign, including how others in his position approach their craft.
"It just opened up to come into a whole new environment," added Carty.
"Obviously being in Connacht, you are obviously very comfortable there, it's what you're used to. Stepping into a new environment with new faces and new coaches, it was obviously daunting enough. I wouldn't say "daunting" it was stepping into a bit of the unknown. I was lucky enough to have a few of the Connacht lads there and the coaches are open to ask anything in terms of the why that they play.
"There's a couple of difference in terms of how Connacht play and how Ireland play and [I had] to learn that.
"I did really enjoy. Learned a lot as a player and obviously learned from Johnny, Joey, and Ross. I just kind of saw how they did things on a day-to-day basis. It gave me a good insight into how I can prepare differently I suppose.
"I noticed how Johnny takes care of his body. Even when he's doing kicking sessions, the quality of what he does is something that I looked to try and be able to do on a consistent basis."
James Ryan and Jack Carty were on hand to announce the nominees for the 2019 Zurich Players’ Player of the Year Award. The Zurich Irish Rugby Players Awards, one of the biggest nights in Irish sport, will take place on Wednesday, 15th May, at the Clayton Hotel in Ballsbridge.