Are you one of the many trainers, coaches or therapists that are currently training clients for golf? Quite possibly, you may have had to turn away a potential client due to your unfamiliarity with the game. Until recently, golfers have placed little emphasis on the physical and/or conditioning aspect of the game, and the result, all too often, was injury, trips to rehabilitation or even quitting the game. However, understanding the components of the swing theory can result in improving the golfer's performance while decreasing the chance for injury. 

 

What's In a Swing?

            The mechanics of the golf swing requires a wide range of motion divided into the two-part separation called firstly, the take away and then secondly, the follow through. Each component demands that the golfer possess great balance, flexibility and confidence to commit his or her swing all the way through, allowing for a complete swing. The body's ability to perform well begins with the proper conditioning on and off the course.

 

The Physiological Aspect of the Swing

            From the feet to the ankles, power transfer continues through the lower legs up to the thighs, then to the hips. As the body begins to distribute weight for acceleration, energy is produced and drives upward through to the chest and shoulder complex. The trunk begins to coil; the arms allow for the two-part separation; and focus is now on the hands and wrists. The body begins to uncoil with explosive force production, and the sweeping motion begins with your arms, wrists and hands in the controlled, effortless arc that forms the swing. The body recruits the abdominals (for stabilization), the hip and trunk (for rotation), the arm and shoulder (for the golf swing) and the wrists (for grip, control and stability).

 

The Client Assessment

            As a sports conditioning specialist, I first have my clients go through a series of simple assessments, such as walking 15 feet forward and backward and then laterally, which is done to assess their gait. The golfer's stance begins at the feet, so any detection of lateral/medial instability of the feet can affect his or her swing path. Secondly, I have the golfer stand at address with an iron. This is called the "Posture" stage.

            Does your client have a flat back or swayback? If he or she has a flat back with no flex in the knees, the client will, most likely, top the ball and place unnecessary stress on the spine. If the client has a swayback, this, most likely, is the result of tight upper back and shoulder muscles often referred to as a "wood chopper." He or she will have a poor swing turn and often uses his or her arms to hit the ball rather than recruiting the hips into the swing.

            Next, introduce a balance and stability drill done by having your client stand on one leg with his or her eyes closed for the duration of 10 seconds for each leg. This drill indicates any issues with favored or dominant sides. The golfer's weight distribution should be 50/50, and weight should be placed on the balls of the feet; however, no more than 50% on the left foot, particularly when hitting the driver or any fairway woods. The consequence of uneven weight distribution is less power in the eventual swing.

            Finally, I check "pelvic hip height" by standing directly behind the client, placing my fingers on his or her hips. The hips should be evenly balanced. If, for example, one hip is significantly higher than the other, a muscle imbalance may be the cause. This ultimately results in a poor shot. An easy drill for this situation is the "Cross-Over Step Drill," where the client should stand "at address," knees slightly flexed. Cross the right leg over the left, and follow with the left leg, returning to the original stance. Cross over five to 10 steps. Repeat this process from left to right. Follow this drill by using a foam rolling exercise that places emphasis on the IT Band.

 

Drills for the 21st Century Golfer

            Golfers that are able to bring the club head back farther in their "take away" will generate more forward speed because they have the time and space to generate it. Moreover, golfers with an increased range of motion, generate greater club speed as they swing down, which paves the way to add distance to the drive. What golfer couldn't use more distance? In fact, flexibility transfers to POWER, CONTROL, DISTANCE and ACCURACY.

            Professionals and amateurs alike can suffer the same types of injuries. The most common are wrist, back, hand, hip, shoulder and knee problems. Most injuries stem from ineffective swing mechanics and poor warm-up techniques. But with advice on the initial assessment and golf-specific exercises, fitness professionals can help  clients improve their golf game and, thus, allow for years of joy and pain-free living.

 

 

Functional Golf Exercises
Leg Muscles: Power Production
Squat Sequence:

 

  1. Wall Squat: Begin the squat by standing against a flat wall (make sure the wall is stable prior to exercise), slowly walk out by keeping the back flat against the wall. Ultimately, you'll want to reach a 90-degree angle of knee flexion. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds.

  1. DB Squat: Hold DBs at your side, lower yourself so that your quads are parallel to the floor. *Add the use of a Dyna discs for added difficulty.

  1. Single Leg Squat: Balance on your right foot with the left leg bent. While reaching forward with left hand, bend forward at the hip as you initiate the squat and return to an upright stance.   

Lunge Sequence:

  1. Medicine Ball Lunge (alternate stance): Keep torso upright, and focus straight ahead as you lunge forward with your right leg. Place the medicine ball toward your right hip. This promotes a strong shoulder rotation. Repeat this sequence on your left.

  1. Backward Lunge: Step backward with right leg into the lunge, and raise right arm overhead, with palm toward the head and left arm straight, pointing toward the ground. Bend to the left, holding the stretch for 3-5 seconds. Repeat on other side. 

  1. Lateral Lunge with Medicine Ball: Begin with feet shoulder-width apart, and step out to your left, keeping the right leg straight with the medicine ball at chest height. Side lunge to the left while simultaneously extending the ball straight forward.

Anterior Reaches to Cone: (target-hamstrings & lower back) Stand with feet shoulder width, about 2-3 feet from cone, and step forward to cone with right leg. Reaching with your left hand, touch cone. Repeat the stance with opposite arm and leg. While reaching forward, you want to focus on keeping the trailing leg straight, with the heel down.

 

Glute Bridge: (target-glutes, hamstrings & low back) Lie face up with arms out to your sides, palm down and knees bent with only your heels on the ground. Raise your right knee to your chest. Raise your hips until they are in line with your shoulders. Repeat this sequence with the opposite leg. Aim for 10-12 reps.

 

Midsection Muscles: Force Transfer

Abdominal Reaching Crunch

 

Seated Medicine Ball Twist

 

Stability Ball Crunch

 

Prone Plank Drill

 

Walkout on Physioball

 

Arm Muscles: Club Control

Bicep Curl: Single arm

 

Tricep Extension: alternating arm

 

Forearm Curls: DB flexion/extension

 

Torso Muscles: Swing Action

Alternating DB Chest Press: Aim for 12-16 reps, 2-3 sets.

 

Back Row: Single arm on Physioball.

 

Lateral Raise: Balanced on single leg. *Use Dyna Disc for added difficulty.

 

Rotation on Physioball: Rotate from left to right, keeping the hips from turning. Hold 3-8 lb plate or Medicine Ball.

 

Med Ball Rotation: Seated with 5-10 lb.

 

Push Press: Stand with knees flexed using an adjustable cable pulley (set at chest height). Bring hands to center of chest, and then push straight out until full extension. Aim for 10-12 reps, and hold the last repetition for 5 seconds. Repeat on other side.

 

Golf Flexibility

Quadraped: Start on all fours, and raise right arm and extend left leg at the same time. Repeat with other side. 2 sets; 12 reps

 

Wall Trunk Rotation: Stand with knees flexed and hands out in front about 2 feet from a wall. Completely rotate to the left, and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat the same side for 3 reps, and then change the direction. 2 sets, 6 reps per side.

 

Posterior Deltoid Stretch: Begin with the right arm, extended straight out. Keeping your shoulders square, cross your right arm over towards your left shoulder. Next, take your left forearm, and pull the right arm towards the left shoulder.

 

Cross Over Hip Stretch: Lying on back, raise right leg and extend it over the left. Left arm should try to reach the right foot, and pause for 3-5 sec. Repeat for 2 sets of 12 reps.

 

Walking Quad Stretch: Stand at attention, and take a step forward with your left foot. Reach for the right ankle, and extend left arm and hold for 3 seconds. Repeat both sides for 10 reps.

            Daniel H. Farley is the president of Focal Point Fitness, Inc., a private strength and conditioning facility located in Pasadena, California. For more information, visit www.focalpointfit.com or email him at daniel@focalpointfit.com.

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