When listening to Mixx clients talk about the swing technique of the touring professionals, there are a number of words that are consistently used. Smooth. Powerful. Fluid. Quick. Effortless. All of these words can be used to describe a good golf swing, yet these are words that don’t often get used together to describe one athletic movement.
In my opinion the golf swing is somewhat unique in the world of sports. In many athletic movements the athlete is either looking to generate power or is emphasizing finesse. The golf swing requires both. My golfing clients constantly comment that their drives are longer and straighter when they relax and don’t try as hard. This happens when we see maximal club head speed and power derived through fluid body mechanics. This is a rare combination of power and control.
To be able to consistently reproduce an exceptional swing, a golfer must train his or her body appropriately. Like any other sport, there’s no substitute for practice. At the same time, there’s significant additional benefit to be derived from off-sport conditioning to improve posture and alignment, enhance core stability and functional range of motion, and increase power.
When working with any athlete who performs their sport in a standing position, there are certain requirements for optimal performance. Neutral athletic position, effective core engagement and proximal to distal movement are all essential for fluid swing mechanics.
Following are three great exercises for golfers. Always remember to do a proper warm-up, and make sure that you consult your physician before undertaking a new fitness program or making changes to your current routine.
Ball squeeze torso pendulums
This movement will help you to maximize power to the ground by engaging both your adductors and abductors of your legs and hips as you create fluid rotation of the torso and upper extremities. Start by placing a small exercise ball on the floor between your legs and drop into a neutral athletic position, with your hips, knees and ankles slightly flexed and your core engaged. The ball should just fit between your legs when you’re in your standard foot placement as you address a golf ball. Place your legs snuggly up against the edge of the ball and lightly weight the inside edges of your feet. This should activate your inner thigh muscles just enough to lightly squeeze the ball. Hold a light medicine ball in both hands at arms length in front of your pelvis. Without letting your pelvis move at all, begin a small arcing motion from side to side with the medicine ball, being certain to create the rotational movement from your mid section, and not your arms. Be diligent about maintaining constant pressure through the ball and neutral alignment of the spine as you perform 30 turns. Gradually increase the speed and range of the rotations.
Hip closer breakouts
Many golfers don’t have enough internal rotation at their hip joints, resulting in inefficient swing mechanics and unnecessary stress to their knee joints and spine. I find that this is especially prevalent in men. Stretching or other forms of muscle release are only effective if you re-train the movement patterns that caused the restrictions in the first place. To improve hip mobility, start in a neutral athletic position, with weight equally distributed between your feet and core engaged. Initiating the movement from the pelvis, break forward with your right leg, stepping slightly across in front of your left foot, while keeping your upper body facing forward. Holding a golf club in both hands across your chest can help you to maintain alignment. Be certain that your left leg doesn’t spin or flare outward, but stays in neutral forward alignment. Pause in this position, with equal weight on both feet, then fire back to the start position before repeating on the other side. Perform 2 sets of 30 breakouts. Focus on good head position and spinal alignment, remembering to breathe comfortably throughout the set.
Quadruped golf twist
Rotational mobility is critical for golf, and symmetry in the body is very important. Start on your hands and knees with your back flat and spine neutral. Reach your right arm out and upward toward the ceiling as you rotate your torso and shoulders to your right side. Be certain to keep your hips and pelvis neutral to encourage greater spinal rotation. Breathe comfortably, letting your spine, shoulders and hips stretch out thoroughly for 15-20 seconds before taking a deep breath, exhaling and reaching even further upward for another 15-20 seconds. Perform this stretch on both sides of the body to ensure balanced flexibility.
–Rob Williams is a Vancouver based business owner in the health and fitness industry. He is a kinesiologist, posture expert, entrepreneur, health and fitness columnist, presenter, inventor, athlete, father, prominent downtown vancouver personal trainer, coach and mentor to many young athletes in the North Shore community. http://www.williamshealthgroup.com/index.htm