Most sports that involve striking an object do so while the object is in motion. Unlike baseball, tennis, hockey, soccer, and the like, golf requires that contact be made with a stationary object. That may sound like a simpler task, but consider that productive contact relies upon the physical characteristics of the golfer along with the environment from which the shot is being made. In this regard, swinging a golf club is perhaps one of the tougher skills to perfect.
Granted, hitting a moving object requires good eye-hand coordination and plenty of practice. The environment, though, by which most of these actions are performed is predictable. The batter’s box, tennis court, and hockey rink, for example, are all fixed, even surfaces that remain that way throughout the event.
A golf course, however, is anything but predictable. Except for the tee box, rarely does the golfer experience the same shot twice during a round. The golf ball may be stationary, but the conditions upon which the ball rests are varied.
Due to this fact, a golfer must condition the body to mimic these playing conditions. The influence of ground and gravitational forces, while hitting shots from various angles and body positions, dictates the need for a functional training program that prepares the golfer for these conditions.
For example, an uphill lie will generate ground and gravitational forces that will cause the golfer’s knees to lean down the slope of the hill, while requiring an adjustment of the upper body. This places a different type of load to the leg and trunk muscles compared to when hitting from a flat lie.
The same goes for when the ball’s above the golfer’s feet. In this position, the feet are more flexed, the calves are stretched, and once again the upper body must adjust to accommodate the lie or the golfer may wind up falling backwards during the swing sequence.
To maximize performance, the functional training program should adapt the golfer to these conditions. Since the tasks for golf are performed standing on varied terrain, exercises done while only standing on a flat surface will not completely cover all elements of the game.
In addition, while swinging a golf club, there is no machine or device that supports the golfer or his weight as body parts are moved through multiple planes of motion. Therefore, sitting in an exercise machine will not provide the added benefit of stabilization or balance nor will it likely offer the multi-joint, multi-plane movement required for golf. It does provide a strength component to the muscle group being isolated, however, and should not be totally banned from the program.
A better option would be to perform standing exercises, as much as possible, using free weights or other functional training apparatus, and moving through multiple planes of motion during each exercise. For example, performing a single-leg forward lunge with a lateral shoulder raise of the opposite side arm would provide both sagital (front-to-back) and transverse (rotational) movements for the hip and frontal (side-to-side) motion for the shoulder. This enhances specificity to the golfer and the mechanics of the golf swing.
By incorporating these functional training guidelines, golfers will maximize the training session and better prepare themselves to perform the unsupported task of swinging a golf club, no matter what circumstance the golf course may hand them.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bob Forman has a Master’s degree in Exercise Science and is a Certified Golf Fitness Instructor through the Titleist Performance Institute. He is the owner of GolFIT Carolina, located in Greensboro, NC, and establishes golf fitness programs in North and South Carolina.
Written by : Bob Forman