by Kevin Owens / @Waiting4Godunk

I felt like Ralphie Parker from A Christmas Story as I opened the mailbox everyday for the past week and a half. I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new custom Under Armour Performance Mouthwear with Armour Bite Technology (Armour Bite) that I was fitted for at IMG Academy last week. Now that it finally arrived, I can begin testing the performance enhancing qualities it is said to possess.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Armour Bite, it is a product developed by both Under Armour and Bite Tech. According to Under Armour, the product delivers a host of physical benefits that help you train harder and compete at a higher level. The science behind this product is simple. During athletically streUA Performance Mouthwearssful moments, your natural reaction is to clench your jaw. Your clenched jaw and teeth compress your temporomandibular joint (TMJ), triggering the release of excess amounts of performance-sapping hormones, called cortisol, that produce stress, fatigue and distraction. This patented technology prevents your teeth from clenching and pivots your jaw forward to relieve pressure on the TMJ. Without these energy draining hormones your body can unleash its full potential.

According to Under Armour, with improved airflow and less stress from clenching, UA Performance Mouthpiece is said to increase strength by an average of 17 percent. With enlarged airway openings, lactic acid is 25 percent less likely to build-up after 30 minutes of intense exercise. Clinical trials also show an improvement in responding to auditory cues and potential improvement in response to visual cues.

I was presented with all these scientific facts during the Combine 360 Welcoming Dinner I attended at IMG Academy, a week and a half ago. Dr. Bill Belanoff from Bite Tech and Raghib “Rocket” Ismail provided a convincing case about the positive effects of UA Performance Mouthwear, specifically in relation to concussions. Currently in professional sports this has been an issue which has demanded attention. Athletes are stronger and hit harder than ever. According to Under Armour their Performance Mouthguards have been shown to reduce the G-Force impact of blows to the jaw by up to 20 percent.

With all these facts in front of me, I decided to unofficially become a test subject. During Rocket Ismail’s speech he mentioned a golf outing he had attended. At one of the holes a gentlemen was recording swing speeds. The gist of the story was Rocket dazzled the swing measurer with his explosive club speed. Several weeks later during a similar situation, the two men once again crossed paths. This time Rocket’s swing was significantly slower. It was then that he realized he was not wearing his Armour Bite.

With this story in mind I took my 14-year-old elongated clubs on a relaxing Sunday round of golf. When I walked into the country club, I told the elderly owner that I was from SLAM Magazine and was writing an article about a product from Under Armour. The man stared blankly back at me. I can tell by his confused glare that he had no idea what SLAM or Under Armour was. I was lucky if he knew what a magazine was. Needless to say I did not receive a discount.

My foursome consisted of my friends Chris Hertz and the affectionately named “Brothers Matt” (Matt Parisi and Matt Edwards). All three of them are avid golfers, who from April to November make these Sunday rounds a habit. To make matters worse I had to compete in a “Match Play” style tournament. I was in a little over my head, especially when I sent my first shot of the day off a tree. I wasn’t sure how conclusive my testing would be because a) I suck at golf, and b) My group would surely lose patience when I try to launch errant ball after errant ball out of play.

It took me around nine holes to warm up, since I hadn’t swung a club in over a year. I wore the Armour Bite during my drives; however, they were so poorly hit that I could not make an accurate assessment. It wasn’t until the wide open 15th, 16th and 17th holes that I felt I could test my power without having to walk back to the clubhouse to purchase more balls. Those tests also proved to be unconvincing. I was hitting two balls at a time, one with the piece in and one without. I would hit the first one good, and then top the second, then vice versa. This repeated itself over the next three holes.

Finally I arrived at the 18th tee box with my pairing down one hole. I still did not have conclusive proof that this mouth piece could improve the speed and power of my swing. I could already hear my wife hollering at me about missing a day of Sunday basketball training to go golfing. Now I don’t know if it was that or the competitor in me, but I put the mouth piece in an unloaded on the ball. I have never in my life hit a shot like that. It was dead straight and an estimated (rough) 300 yards. I wound up about 60 yards short of the green on a par 5. Unfortunately my short game did not match up with the drive and it took me three chips to get it on the green. I eventually won the hole thanks to some fancy putting and unlucky shots by the competition.

I believe all the participants were impressed with the newfound power of my swing, all except the tree off the 12th tee box which I launched several forceful drives into. (I guess the Armour Bite doesn’t help my slice.) Up until the last hole, I would have said that the first test was inconclusive, but after that drive I believe I may have had a few less cortisols floating around. Test 1: PASSED

Stay tuned tomorrow as I continue to test this product in the weight room.

Kevin Owens is a veteran of overseas professional basketball who also writes for Waiting For Godunk and Hugging Harold Reynolds. You can also catch him on Twitter @Waiting4Godunk.