When Coquitlam golfer Ryan Stolys was studying computer engineering at Simon Fraser University (SFU), he learned his chosen profession is all about solving problems.
His start-up sports performance company, One Iota Performance, solves at least three of them.
Problem one: Boredom
Idled from his studies and competing with his teammates on SFU’s golf team during the pandemic spring and summer of 2020, Stolys put his computer knowledge to work building a website that could track and analyze his golf statistics, like the distance of shots off the tee and the length of successful putts.
He surmised the compiled numbers would reveal trends and patterns which he could then use to target his training and improve his game.
Problem two: How to become a better golfer
After beta testing the website with his own stats, Stolys took the idea to his coaches and teammates at SFU.
Red Leafs head coach Matthew Steinbach liked the picture the numbers could build of his golfers while the team’s assistant coach in charge of mental performance, Kim Senecal, could dig for deeper meaning, linking an athlete’s performance on the golf course with the state of their mental well-being.
“With statistics, there is no grey area,” said Stolys, who’s originally from Richmond Hill, Ont., and recently graduated as valedictorian of his class.
“But the mental aspect of golf is more nuanced.”
Stolys said the system fuses raw data with a holistic approach to golf’s mental aspects to create an “objective truth” that can help a golfer better manage their energy, develop strategies to control their emotions, heart rate and breathing and improve their visualization skills.
It’s all about building confidence, Stolys said.
“Confidence is huge. When you have it you think it will never go away. But when you don’t have it feels like it will never come back.”
Because as much as golf’s purpose is to direct a small, dimpled ball into a hole hundreds of metres away, it’s enduring allure is the pursuit of that perfect, elusive moment when physical ability and technique harmonize with your mental and emotional state to produce that one perfect round where every swing is smooth and the ball sails exactly where you intended it to go.
“You want to see it all come together,” Stolys said. “It’s an addiction.”
Problem three: What to do after graduation
After about a year of refinement, Stolys and his coaches could see the potential for their system as a remote coaching tool golfers can self direct from anywhere.
Using tools like a laser sighter to measure distances, they can input their own numbers for the computer to analyze while a survey builds a mental and emotional profile against which their performance can be compared.
With the help of some funding from SFU’s Venture Connection initiative and mentorship through the school’s eCoop program to learn the nuts and bolts of the business world, Stolys, Steinbach and Senecal launched One Iota.
While most of the company’s clients are competitive golfers based in British Columbia, the remote, self-directed nature of the program means some customers are from Ontario and even overseas.
Stolys said the system could be easily adapted to other individual sports as well, like tennis, swimming and car racing.
“The ideas around mental performance aren’t specific to golf,” he said.
Of course the true measure of the program’s success is on the fairways and greens, something Stolys will be able to gauge at the BC amateur championships at Morningstar in Nanaimo, July 10–14.
It will be his first major competition since graduating from SFU and a real-world test of the changes he’s made to his game through developing the One Iota program.
“It’s great to be able to combine the two things,” Stolys said.
To learn more about One Iota Performance, go to the company’s website.