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