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Best Exercises for Improving Your Golf Game by Christopher Smith
So... you’ve decided to commit some time to improve the most important piece of equipment in your golf arsenal – your physical body! Brilliant.
Now, just how to proceed? Here are a few ideas:
- Get a proper physical assessment/screen, from a competent individual. Before starting any exercise program, you need to know just where your restrictions, deficiencies and strengths may be. A physical therapist or qualified movement specialist (beware of ex-athlete ‘personal trainers’ who may not know their stuff – or yours) can help you identify areas, some more important and relevant to a golf swing than others, where you need to make upgrades.
- Chances are you are lacking mobility, stability and strength in some areas (unless you play on the PGA Tour). Great – lots of upsides! Once identified, put together a program where you see a specialist twice a week for six weeks, along with your daily homework.
- Golf specific. Yuck – one of my least favorite (and abused/misunderstood) terms since Tiger and Annika made golf fitness ‘cool.’ The only thing truly golf specific is playing a round of (competitive) golf on the course. Every and anything else is just ‘golf-like.’
Regardless, here are some thoughts on how to keep that crucial piece of equipment in better operating condition:
Squats. The glutes are the powerhouse for all hitting and throwing motions. Your golf swing is no exception. Simple and sinisterly good for you- and you can do them almost anywhere.
On that same side of the body, well... If someone cut you in half front to back – work the back side of your body for your golf swing. Shoulders, back, ass, hammies – you get the picture. Biceps like those on this year’s U.S. Open and PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka? Vanity, boys. “No curls, nor girls” – but they ain’t gonna help you much on the links.
Pull rather than push. Pull-ups. Rowing machine. Chin-ups.
Yoga. But you already know that, don’t you? Strength. Mobility. Focus. Balance. Breathing. Those are pretty damn ‘golf-like,’ are they not? Just beware of overly heated spaces and pushing yourself beyond your ‘normal’ limits. Yoga related injuries are just as common as our overzealous CrossFitters...
Ankle mobility. REALLY important, and oft-overlooked. Why? It’s a vital part of the chain from the ground to the clubhead. And our ankles have become immobile due to excessive sitting (the new smoking!) and poor footwear. Ankle rolls, as well as “ankle windshield wipers” are simple, and effective.
Stronger hands and feet. You’d be shocked at the average grip strength of a PGA Tour player... It’s why they can hold the club lighter when you need to actually hold it tighter (grip it and rip it, please). Squeezing a ball of semi-squishy ball of sorts, wadding up the Sunday newspaper, or even getting your hands in the dirt with some aggressive gardening can all help. Really. Oh, and those dogs? Ditch the shoes and socks as much as possible. Go get reconnected to Mother Earth (“Grounding, Cabling and Earthing” are legit sciences, based in transferring the planet’s electrons back into the body) by walking barefoot, and strengthen naturally your only connection to the ground.
Running? Uh... coming from the Guinness World Record Holder in Speedgolf, I can tell you personally (as can my reconstructed hip) that slogging mile after mile ain’t gonna help you much with any type of golf. That being said, strengthening your legs can be of huge benefit.
So, if you must run, consider:
- Sprints of 50-100 yards. Little bursts – like what happens in a golf swing.
- Run backward. Yup – the 1st mile I actually ran after full hip replacement surgery was back on a track. Just make sure you turn your head and look where you going!
- Carioca/sideways running. Not only a great warm-up for the hips but a fun and effective way to keep some balance in your running body.
Speed: Everybody wants more, huh? Some of you are trying to maintain, some trying to gain. Like with your exercise program, start in moderation and work your way up to more reps. Otherwise, you’ll be on the DL before you ever really get going...
Swing your arms faster. At the end of the day, the arms produce 80% of your clubhead speed – so stop trying to pivot your hips like some Cirque de Soleil performer and/or turn your torso like the Tasmanian Devil. Increased arm speed = Increased clubhead speed. Period.
Speed Training. The concept has been around since before Old Tom Morris. Heavy to lighter. The SuperSpeed Training system is an easy way to get going. And remember both righty and lefty, please.
Throw a ball. Hard (but without hurting yourself). A la a shortstop or 2nd baseman – half sidearm, half underhand. From decades of research using 3D motion capture, we now know how hard and much the trail arm is working for powerful golfers. Is yours?
Hit 10-30 drives daily as hard as you can. Like when you were a kid, remember? Your mind/body system needs to experience what it’s like to swing faster.
By Christopher Smith
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