- DISTANCE 12th September 2017
Almost every golfer wants to hit the ball further. Providing the extra distance doesn’t come at the expense of accuracy, they know that, it will leave them with a shorter approach shot into the green and using less club should give them greater control and mean more birdie chances.
In my time, I have counselled many a young golfer, who, in their desire to hit the ball further, were mistakenly swinging harder to swing faster. Swinging harder introduces tension, which can disrupt sequencing and timing and often result in less club head speed. It can also inhibit the quality of ball striking, because of the stability and balance issues that ensue. Any golfer needs to understand that extra club head speed is only one of several factors that will help improve distance and it shouldn’t be their first port of call. Solid contact beats a fast swing almost every time. It not only provides greater accuracy and distance, but, even more importantly, it also provides greater distance CONTROL.
Fast club head speed will only optimise distance when energy is efficiently transferred into the ball. That’s why I have always started any mission to increase distance by improving the quality of the player’s ball striking. Assessing the quality (and consistency) of a player’s ball striking prowess yields important data relating to a range of key factors such as arc height and low point control for the perfect ball-turf contact, control of swing-path and club face alignment, angle of attack, sweet spot strike, smash factor, launch angle and spin rate. For most golfers, the most immediate aim should be to improve their strike quality and get their smash factor up around the 1.45 mark. Another key factor is launch angle. In my experience, most amateurs need to launch the ball higher with the driver and lower with their irons.
Understanding how each of these factors can influence outcomes (which can be quite dramatic when two or more combine) is extremely important per se, but in respect of distance, being able to control all these factors allows golfers to take full advantage of the elements, such as wind direction and the condition of the fairways, that can have a major influence how the golfer should approach their quest for distance on any given hole.
Since power output results from a combination of strength and speed, efficient force generation is the order of the day: in other words, you will need sound biomechanics, efficient use of GRF and transference of energy up through the kinetic chain. It is important to remember that, for this transference to happen efficiently, proper sequencing is vital and that it is the deceleration of a unit that accelerates the next unit in the chain, therefore it is the deceleration of the arms that will ultimately accelerate the club head! Striving for maximum distance is often counter-productive, because sequencing suffers with a consequent loss of speed.
The key to effective club head speed has more to do with tempo and timing at impact than anything else. In the downswing, the aim should be to build speed that peaks fractionally after impact. Professionals often appear to swing more slowly than amateurs, yet their club head speed is 10-20 mph faster. It’s because they know how to generate optimal club head speed through impact. Far too often, golfers try to speed up their entire downswing, wasting a lot of energy in the process. Around two-thirds of club head speed is generated via a well-timed release of lag, so, at the risk of repeating myself, when it comes to club head speed, timing is a key factor.
I often see issues with fundamentals that are restricting the distances achieved. Adjusting a novice golfer’s grip can often free up the wrists and afford a significant increase in distance. When using a driver, slight adjustments to an average golfer’s ball position and axis tilt can help optimise launch angle and yield an extra 15-20 yards or more off the tee. Better players, by making contact slightly above the club’s sweet spot, can launch the ball a little bit higher and with less spin, which can add 10-15 yards more distance without any significant changes to their swing.
In my opinion, it is only once this very necessary groundwork has been done, that a golfer should consider embarking on a physical conditioning regime expressly designed to develop more club head speed. And even then, the first requirement would be to ensure that he/she has the requisite balance and stability to maintain control of the extra speed generated – so a lot of work on lower extremity and core strength. Optimising flexibility and fast twitch muscle contraction speed should be the final piece in ‘the swing speed jigsaw’.
A word of caution. Research data might suggest that the lower the handicap, the higher the swing speed tends to be, but that is because the lower the handicap, the better the technique, creation of torque and lag, transference of energy from the ground up through the kinetic chain, timing of the release and quality of strike tends to be. It does not mean that swinging faster is the way to go about reducing your handicap!
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that most golf courses are between 5800–6500 yards long and do not demand excessive length to score well. Rather than working on distance, most amateurs would benefit far more from working on their short game and putting.
- Make 2017 Memorable 4th January 2017
If you’re the type of person who likes to make New Year resolutions to improve your life, but all too often find it impossible to back up your good intentions with the discipline and perseverance required to seem them through, then here are 10 really simple things you can do to look better, feel better and, yes, play better golf!
Walk 7-10,000 steps a day: Prolonged sitting leads to back and hip problems that can potentially cause havoc with your swing. So, get up on your feet and walk, whenever you can. If you have a smartphone or fitness tracker, monitor and keep a record of your steps.
Improve your posture: Posture is the most neglected and least understood aspect of health and fitness. Correcting your posture is the single best thing you can do to improve how you look and feel. Good postural alignment improves blood flow to the muscles, which improves their functionality and helps to reduce pain. [Here are 2 great videos to be had from www.fittergolfers.com that will help you optimize your posture: ‘Achieving Good Posture’ and ‘Maintaining Good Posture’]
Strengthen your glutes: The gluteal muscles are key to good back health, but also to a balanced and powerful swing. Strong glutes help to prevent swaying, sliding and early extension. They also provide energy via GRF that you can transfer into the club in the downswing. So, when you’re sitting down, squeeze your buttock muscles together at regular intervals throughout the day. [If you can isolate them, it’s a good idea to alternate cheeks.] Take the stairs rather than the lift or escalator and target your glutes in your lower body programme with exercises like Bulgarian squats and Romanian deadlifts.
Strengthen your trunk muscles: When strengthening your trunk muscles, develop ‘core’ stability first, before moving on to building core strength. Work the deeper stabilizing muscles first and your functional fitness will improve, making you less prone to injury. Most movements start at the centre and ‘translate’ outwards and a stable centre will help ensure that your movement is efficient and pain-free.
Back pain is commonly caused by a weak or imbalanced core. Building core strength will rebalance the muscles at the front and back of your body and should be linked to work on good posture. Complement posture workouts by practicing good posture when you’re sitting at work, at home or in the car, and when out walking etc. Once you’ve developed your core stability, you can start working on the more superficial core muscles to build strength that will be visible to all. ‘Plank’ and ‘bridge’ exercises provide a good starting point. Remember you can have strong limbs, but have relatively weak trunk muscles and that is a dangerous combination! Core strength is something everyone should work on.
Exercise in all 3 planes of motion: The golf swing demands that you simultaneously move in more than one plane, so conditioning should include multi-plane movements with exercises like lateral and rotational jumps, medicine ball rotational throws, rolling bridges, reverse chops and lunges with trunk rotations etc.
Do some balance exercises at least twice a week: This can be done very easily indeed. When performing everyday tasks like brushing your teeth, combing your hair, buttoning your shirt etc. simply stand on one leg. This simple act will improve your balance and make the muscles around your ankle work really hard to maintain your equilibrium and thus will strengthen them significantly. As we get older, our balance deteriorates and we get weaker due to age-related muscle wastage called sarcopenia. [It’s why old people become susceptible to falls.] Everyone over the age of 40 should work to maintain their levels of balance and leg strength.
Get your heart rate up in three 20-45 minute relatively vigorous sessions a week: A combination of even-rate cardio and interval training will work wonders for how you feel out on the course. It will burn calories, improve your endurance, and your ability to focus under stress, helping you to hole that vital final putt. Your goal here should be increase your heart rate from its resting rate (between 60-100 beats per minute is normal) to a rate slightly below your maximum rate, which is dependent upon your age and can easily be ascertained by simply deducting your age from 220. [So, for example the maximum heart rate for a 55 year old person is 220-55=165 beats per minute.] Note: It is always advisable to consult your doctor before you start any vigorous exercise programme.
Self-massage twice a week: Just 15 minutes with a foam roller (or other self-massage tool) will free up your muscles, increase their elasticity and lengthen your swing. You’ll be able to swing harder and faster while reducing the risk of injuries. Focus on the lower back, the hips, the upper back and calves.
Drink a minimum of 2 litres of water (preferably filtered) a day: The benefits are numerous. Drinking this amount of water tends to curb your appetite and can help you lose weight. It will also improve muscle function for a smoother, more powerful swing, and give you an endurance boost. So, you will wave goodbye to those slumps in performance over the closing holes!
Keep track of your calorie intake: Smartphone apps are freely available to help you log what you eat and drink each day. Regardless of whether or not you should be shedding a few pounds post-Christmas, monitoring what you eat and drink will raise awareness of your nutritional needs. Less stress on your bones, better mobility, and increased energy will benefit your game enormously.
And there you have it. You don’t have to do all 10 at once if you find the prospect too daunting, just select a manageable number and gradually work your way through them if you can.
On the other hand, if you think you can ‘go the extra mile’ and have what it takes not only to transform your general health, but to go on to achieve a body that is totally golf fit then why not take our two FREE self-assessment screening tests for both the lower and upper body? They will pinpoint the areas you need to work on and enable you to select those modules that perfectly meet your needs from our comprehensive conditioning programme. Strike while the iron is hot. Do it NOW! Good luck and here’s to a hugely successful season in 2017…
- SLASH YOUR HANDICAP 6th December 2016
Research suggests golf-specific conditioning can knock as many as 7 shots off your handicap within a few months!
Sounds too good to be true? Far from it!… and here’s why:
After the age of 30, unless offset by muscle conditioning workouts, ALL ADULTS lose 3-8% of their muscle mass per decade in a natural, age-related process of muscle wastage known as Sarcopenia. (It can often start in people as young as 20). Over time, this loss of lean tissue contributes to a decrease in muscle strength and power. As a result, balance also deteriorates. Inactivity further accelerates the rate of atrophy and by the time we get to 50, we can lose 4 ounces of muscle every year.
No wonder then that, as they get older, most golfers start to lose distance off the tee!
- Prolonged periods of time in a seated posture stretches and weakens the muscles in the posterior chain – muscles that are vital for stability and power in the golf swing.
- At the same time, it shortens muscles in the front of the body and makes maintaining balance throughout the swing extremely difficult.
- Similarly time spent at a desk, especially at a computer keyboard, ruins posture and inhibits much-needed flexibility in the upper back and shoulders.
- Owing to the fact that it is an unnatural movement, few have either the rotational range of motion required, or the ability to achieve adequate separation of their upper and lower body (the so-called X-factor).
- Playing golf doesn’t help! In fact, because the swing is an asymmetrical action, in the absence of restorative conditioning, it only serves to increase existing imbalances in the body’s musculature, thus increasing instability and the risk of eventual breakdown.
A properly designed, golf-specific conditioning programme restores requisite levels of balance, stability, strength and flexibility.
Stronger wrists and forearms give you greater control of your swing plane and swing path.
Stronger leg, thigh and hip muscles generate more power from the ground up and stronger trunk muscles transfer that power more efficiently to the upper body, while improved flexibility in the upper back and shoulders lengthens the swing and thereby increases clubhead speed – all of which means extra distance.
Greater distance and increased accuracy means you find more fairways and hit shorter approach shots, making it easier to target the pin and enjoy more birdie putts.
And that is how appropriately designed golf-specific conditioning can knock as many as 7 shots off your handicap in just a few months!
Still not convinced? Then maybe the professionals can change your mind!
- “Being in good physical shape helps me to be a better player.” – Rory McIlroy
- “Following a gym programme…I feel a lot stronger and more stable in my swing. I work on my balance, swing mobility and injury prevention. I think it’s vital.” – Charlie Hull
- “My fitness and my gym routine is just as important to me as practising. You have to be in shape to play well.” – Stacy Lewis
- “I’m always trying to improve my conditioning… It’s as important to my training as practising my swing.” – Tiger Woods
- “Those who think golfers are not really athletes are wrong… you need to be strong and in good shape. [You may] not be a professional, but you can still work hard at being the best golfer you can be in 2017.” – Suzann Pettersen
- WHY WINTER SHOULDN’T LEAVE YOU OUT IN THE COLD 5th December 2016
Playing golf in mid-winter can be no fun at all, especially if the ground is frost-hardened and the wind’s finger-numbingly cold. However, it’s the perfect season for working on your game and realising your game-improvement ambitions.
Change takes time. For one thing, a single swing ‘fault’ will often come wrapped in a bundle of other compensatory issues, so, when changing the fault, you must be patient and allow yourself time to resolve these other issues too. Also, a swing change requires countless painstaking repetitions before it becomes ingrained in your neuromuscular memory and no longer needs conscious thought and effort.
Winter is the perfect time to schedule in this kind of work on your game, not just because you have more off-course time available, but also, crucially, you don’t need to worry about outcomes, so the inevitable short-term drop in performance can be accommodated more easily. It allows you to focus fully on the movement itself. You can practise at home with an impact bag and a mirror to really ‘groove’ the swing change, before eventually progressing to hitting air-flow balls off a mat in the garden.
It is always advisable to work on improving your game under the kind of expert supervision that your local teaching professional can offer you and here again winter is your friend because it allows you the time to undertake a series of lessons to iron out any technical issues.
Now, a word of caution. For any game-improvement effort to be fully rewarded, it is important to understand the inextricable link between physical and technical ability.
The swing fault that plagues a golfer’s game is often the result of a physical limitation, rather than being purely a technical issue. It will be absolutely vital when correcting any swing faults that your body can easily accommodate new swing positions and move freely and effortlessly through the requisite new movement patterns.
Luckily, winter also affords you time to ensure that the most important item of golf equipment you own – your body – is totally fit-for-purpose.
If you go to the ‘Game Improvement’ drop down menu on our Homepage (see above) you will find a page entitled ’Are your Problems Physical or Technical?’ Simply hover over that title and it will open up a list of pages covering all the most common swing faults and their most likely physical causes. You can then download our free self-assessment screening tests to confirm whether the problem you are having with your swing is indeed the result of a physical restriction. Once identified, you can target that limitation with the appropriate conditioning module from our comprehensive programme. All the modules in our Foundation Programme have been specifically designed to be done at home without any need for specialist equipment, so there are no obstacles to overcome and you can begin immediately.
Opening up an appropriate dialogue with your teaching professional is vital. If you are serious about improving your game, make it clear that he/she doesn’t need to compromise in any way and that you are fully prepared to undertake golf-specific conditioning in order to facilitate any swing changes that ideally need to be made.
Winter’s the perfect time to start a golf-specific conditioning programme that will improve your balance, stability, strength and mobility. So, why not start next season hitting it longer and straighter than ever before, enjoying shorter approach shots into greens, really attacking those pins and taking full advantage of more birdie putts.
- Update on our Intermediate Level Conditioning Programme 18th December 2015
Owing to the Fitter Golfers Partnership having been asked to provide a non-golf-specific programme of exercises for use by sports therapists and general health practitioners, we have this year been writing a conditioning programme for achieving and maintaining a structurally healthy body. This was too good an opportunity to miss, but it has meant a huge amount of work and we have therefore postponed the production of our Golf-Specific Intermediate Level Programme until this project has been completed. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.
- PHASE 3: EFFECTIVE PRACTICE 1st August 2015
You are seeking lower scores not ‘the perfect swing’.
Your first step is to understand the current status of your game – its strengths and weaknesses. Play a minimum of 5 rounds in which you record your key statistics. [See my July post.]
Make sure that you understand the biomechanical demands of what you are trying to achieve and your body’s capacity for performing them. [Use our free-to-download Self-Assessment Tests in order to identify shortfall and then use the relevant conditioning programme(s). Again, see my previous post.]
Plan your practice programme in consultation with your teaching professional, so that it properly dovetails with your technical skills lessons. The ideal interval between lessons is two weeks (so a typical 12 week programme should contain 5-6 lessons).
Plan the first ‘cycle’ of your programme [which should include an integration of lessons, practice and play]. Make sure that you take account of other commitments and, once formulated, diarise your sessions and set reminders on your phone etc. to help you commit to the programme.
Every practice session should be specific and deliberate. You should have a single objective and a clear idea of what you are trying to achieve and why. (Relevance and purpose.)
Make a clear distinction between practice sessions that are geared towards making game improvement changes to your swing technique and those that are improving execution/performance. In fact there are 4 distinct types of practice:
- Technical practice: (working on swing mechanics). This type of practice requires a lot of correct repetitions to ‘bed in’ a specific position or movement pattern. It can be done at home: indoors in front of a mirror, or outdoors in front of patio doors (always without a ball). Work on one move at a time and break the movement pattern down into a series of positions. Practice ‘hitting each of these positions separately, but in sequence, until you can ‘hit’ each one accurately and ‘instinctively’. If you hold positions for 30 seconds to get ‘feedback feel’, it trains the body to ‘hit’ the position and enhances recognition when you ‘miss’ it. Then progress to moving between positions in super-slow motion [building up to a maximum of half-speed.] If you possess one, use a video camera when swinging at higher speeds and then make use of the slow motion playback and freeze-frame facilities to check for technical accuracy [feel v real]. Only use drills provided by, or approved by, your instructor to ensure that they will actively accelerate your progress toward your goal.
- Game practice: this involves playing game-type challenges with measurable results in order to test and improve your skills and provide feedback on your progress. Re-create game situational challenges, which you should perform with minimal technical thoughts and ‘a target focus’. On the range hit to different targets and use different clubs. Make sure that you pick a ‘micro’ target to aim for and always remember to incorporate your full pre-shot routine for every shot you hit. [Remember that you’re not practising to hit good shots on the range, but in a round of golf when the pressure is on. This is when your dominant habits will re-surface, so make sure they are good ones.] Play an imaginary hole that you have problems with, or an entire round by visualising your course. Discuss appropriate possibilities with your instructor, who should have plenty of alternatives for you to experiment with.
- Skill practice: developing different skills that will further enhance your ability to control the ball and help with by visualising different on-course situations and future competitions in your arm-chair at home; then, on the range, try mentally recreating them by way of practical preparation.
- Rehearsal practice: begin by visualising successful negotiation of different on-course situations and then prepare for them practically by mentally recreating them on the range.
The ideal duration of both a lesson and a practice session is one hour. [After that time, you will lose a degree of focus, which means that you run the risk of rehearsing imperfect technique and ingraining flawed habits.]
The optimal amount of practice between lessons is somewhere between 6-8 hours. [Any more than that increases the danger of you losing focus and regressing to old habits, with no teacher there to correct you.]
Make sure that you schedule a monthly ‘set-up MOT’ – this is best done at the start of every alternate lesson, so that your teaching pro can check it properly. [Doing it yourself in front of a mirror is less than exact – especially in the early stages.]
Schedule in the odd week off. (You need to avoid getting stale and maintain high levels of enthusiasm.)
Actually playing golf must form part of your programme. Remember the quest is not for perfect technique (if there is such a thing), but for lower scores. BUT when playing, you must be in ‘trust mode’ with no thought given to swing mechanics. Your focus must be totally target oriented as you learn to trust your swing to get the ball there.
Avoid match-play and stick to a stroke-play format, where every stroke counts and has a consequence.
At the end of each ‘cycle’ chart a couple of rounds. [This will not only provide feedback on progress made, but also indicate areas for future improvement.]
- PHASE 2: TECHNICAL SKILLS COACHING 1st July 2015
Never approach technical skills instruction in a piecemeal fashion, which is is completely counter-productive. Taking the odd lesson now and then from different teaching professionals is a total waste of time. Over time, the mind gets cluttered with different swing theories, movement patterns and positions with little or no holistic vision or feel. Furthermore, it’s important to avoid compounding the problem further by also trying to assimilate a multitude of tips from golfing magazines and internet videos (the majority of which are probably wholly inappropriate for your current level of ability) or, even worse, misguided tips from your various playing partners. If you do, you will end up with a patchwork quilt type of swing, made up of countless ‘Band-Aid fixes’ with failing adhesive strips!
Is it any wonder that this type of approach yields no lasting, positive outcomes? So, what is the answer?
- Assess your current playing abilities – spend time getting to know your key statistics and recording them over a minimum of 5 rounds: fairways hit; GIR; putts per round; up and downs %; sand saves %; and scoring average. This will pinpoint which parts of your game are most in need of improvement.
- Have a clear, realistic idea of what it is you want to achieve from your game-improvement effort. Outline your short- and long-term goals.
- You need to believe that you can play to the level you aspire to AND so does the teaching professional of your choice.
- Despite its convenience, don’t simply use the teaching professional attached to the club where you play.
- Research the professionals in your area. Check whether they have the requisite qualifications and experience to take your game to the level you desire. Ask friends and playing partners if they would recommend any instructors they have used. Ask them about pricing, reputation, location, and how much they improved under his/her tutelage. Ask about their use of the latest technologies and methodologies. Ask whether they provide timely communication and feedback in a personal way and any digital content is in a format that suits you. Most importantly, be sure that the instructor has a history of creating positive results for clients.
- Call the instructor and ask if he or she is prepared to meet you. A good instructor should be happy to get to know you as an individual, talk to you about your current game and your improvement goals and also allow you to observe a lesson.
- Ensure that there is a good fit between you and your instructor in terms of personality, your goals, beliefs about the game and how it should be played, and, crucially, your instructor’s ability to relate to your individual needs (which includes your preferred learning styles) and adapt their teaching accordingly.
- Agree and commit to a programme of lessons, including playing lessons out on the course (course management is a crucial element of playing good golf).
- Make sure that your clubs are properly suited to both your physical stature and your game with a custom fitting session before you start lessons.
- Have an open mindset and be prepared to start where it counts with your short game. A round of golf is not a series of full swings. Remember that 70% of your round will be played from within 90yds. Therefore if your aim is to lower your scores, then your programme of lessons has to include short game lessons.
- Agree a plan of action with your chosen instructor that allows for a blend of instruction, effective, purposeful practice and playing golf. [Playing golf must form part of any game-improvement strategy – the quest is not for perfect technique, but for lower scores.]
- Incorporate a monthly ‘set-up MOT’ into your strategy – even the very best regularly check their fundamentals!
The good news is that most people have the natural ability (talent) to play well, but do not develop it properly. To improve, you need a clear strategy along with the requisite desire, commitment, patience and perseverance.
While there are few game-improvement guarantees when it comes to golf, I guarantee that if you can fall in love with the PROCESS of improvement, you will find out just how good you can become. The satisfaction is in the striving.
Remember what I said in a previous post: – “Do what is right, not what is easy.”
- PHASE ONE: DO WHAT IS RIGHT, NOT WHAT IS EASY 1st June 2015
A golfer who wants to perfect his swing before addressing any physical shortcomings he may have that inhibit his ability to do so, might as well be trying to become a virtuoso trumpet player while still suffering from chronic asthma.
The only way your golfing dream can come true, is if you wake up. If you are like the majority of golfers, you probably need to wake up to the fact that golf is a sport and any sport is played by athletes. All athletes who want to improve their performance must be prepared to work on both their sport-specific fitness and their technique.
The best, if not the only, way to go about achieving real game-improvement with a carefully-planned, sequential programme of (i) physical conditioning (ii) technical skills coaching (iii) effective practice.
The European Tour Performance Institute recognises the importance of the above and screens promising young golfers to assess their physical fitness for golf and then provides them with a personalised conditioning programme based on the results obtained.
It is equally important that you too understand the current status of your golf specific fitness and then work to strengthen any areas of weakness and eradicate any areas of inflexibility.
Accordingly, it is vital that you first evaluate the current status of your golf fitness by undertaking a properly designed screening programme that will pinpoint any areas of insufficient flexibility and/or strength.
Then you need to make a conscious decision and commitment to act on the data you obtain.
However, it is not enough to understand what needs to be done, you must also understand how to go about achieving it. This is where, as you will see, Fitter Golfers comes into the equation.
You should download our free self-assessments for the upper and lower body, which come with a comprehensive set of norms against which you can measure your results. Having pinpointed any areas for improvement, you can then select the appropriate conditioning modules to effect the necessary physical changes.
The Fitter Golfers conditioning modules are carefully designed to improve both mobility and flexibility in the ankles, knees, hips, spine, shoulders, arms/wrists and neck, along with further modules to improve balance and posture, enabling you to select only the modules that are relevant to your needs.
So that you appreciate the relevance of each exercise, we explain how each individual shortfall will potentially impact on the swing and the swing benefits to be obtained from improving physical capacity in that area.
Our overall aim is to ensure that when you take lessons, you will be much better able to perform the positions and techniques recommended to you and reap full benefit from your instruction, thus getting a better return on the time and money that you invest.
In my next post I will talk about how best to go about complementing your conditioning work by planning your technical skills coaching with a teaching professional via a programme of lessons.
- Condition Your Body For Excellence – Not Your Mind or Disappointment 7th May 2015
“I take my physical fitness very seriously… it helps me to be a better player.” – Rory McIlroy
Equally, if you can’t move your body freely into the key swing positions, it won’t help you to learn them. Whatever your age, you can use our golf specific programmes to help you train, practice and master the most critical moves in the golf swing.
Condition your body for excellence – not your mind for disappointment!
Now, improving your golfing fortunes needn’t cost you one – it can be done for less than the price of a lesson!
An investment in our complete Foundation programme can cost less that the price of a new club and is much more likely to help you to improve your game and lower your handicap – it really is a no-brainer!
- An 8-Week Golf-Specific Exercise Programme Improves Swing Mechanics and Golf Performance 3rd April 2015
Optimal physical conditioning has always been a central tenet of maximal performance in most sports, but was long overlooked in golf. Coaches have always appreciated the importance of proper swing mechanics, but they now recognize how physical attributes impact on the swing.
Those who play and teach golf finally realize the need for adequate strength, ﬂexibility, and balance training not only to optimize swing mechanics and thereby enhance golf performance, but also potentially to prevent injuries.
An 8-week golf-speciﬁc exercise programme was designed to induce favourable changes in shoulder horizontal abduction and adduction, shoulder extension, hip ﬂexion and extension, knee extension, torso rotation ﬂexibility, hip abduction, torso rotation strength, and single leg balance [the biomechanical differences between proﬁcient golfers and golfers with higher handicaps noted by researchers in a wide ranging study of recreational golfers].
The programme successfully improved all ROM variables along with torso rotational strength and hip abduction strength. It also resulted in changes in swing mechanics, despite the fact that the study was conducted during the off-season, and golfers were not permitted to play golf or to practice at the driving range during their participation in the study.
The programme’s resisted movements mimicked the golf swing, and this seems to have improved the sequencing pattern of the pelvis, shoulders, and arms, resulting in greater mechanical efﬁciency in transferring power to the club and ball.
Despite an increase in static upper-torso rotation ROM, the magnitude of both upper-torso and pelvis axial rotation decreased at the top of the swing. This is attributable to increased pelvic stability (a result of increased hip and torso strength) combined with increased torso ﬂexibility. This combination of unrestricted movement of the upper torso with a more stable pelvis against which to rotate likely allowed golfers to achieve greater coiling of the body to generate more power.
The decrease in pelvis axial rotation was greater than that in upper-torso axial rotation, which increased the X-factor. Furthermore, signiﬁcantly increased torso axial rotation strength may have increased torso rotational torque, which subsequently increased upper-torso axial rotational and X-factor velocity at acceleration. Because the upper torso and the club are linked by the arms to act as a single unit, increased upper-torso axial rotational velocity likely is responsible for increased club head velocity.
The programme resulted in a 5.2% improvement in calculated club head velocity. Additionally, ball velocity, carry distance, and total distance had improvements of 5.0%, 7.7%, and 6.8%, respectively.
An 8-Week Golf-Specific Exercise Programme* Improves Physical Characteristics, Swing Mechanics and Golf Performance in Recreational Golfers: Scott M. Lephart, James M. Smoliga, Joseph B. Myers, Timothy C. Sell, Yung-Shen Tsai: [Neuromuscular Research Laboratory, Sports Medicine and Nutrition, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260; Department of Physical Therapy, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan City, Taiwan.]
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: 2007, 21(3), 860–869 2007 National Strength & Conditioning Association