The first lesson I learned in golf fitness, I learned the hard way. I completed the Golf Fitness Trainer program sponsored by ISSA in the spring of 2002. The launch of my first program was scheduled for early summer. I worked at a golf resort and knew it would be a big hit. I put out a sign up sheet at my facility and was devastated when only 2 people signed up. I began asking around as to what I had done wrong. Did I have a poor marketing plan, not enough advertising, lack of name recognition? I had made friends with a young man who frequented our fitness center and had just turned pro. He confessed that he wanted to join my group but simply couldn’t afford to learn or try anything that might make him sore or cause him to reevaluate his swing while he was in high season. He urged me to reconsider offering this program again in the winter. This required a tremendous amount of patience to wait another 6 months for something I had worked so long for. I heeded his advice and it has paid off in spades. I launched my new and improved golf fitness program at a local private golf club and at the resort where I work. At my first public speaking engagement 50 avid golfers showed up. At the launch of my new golf school, my classes filled up and I am maintaining a wait list. They are already asking if I can offer a sequel to what they are learning. Here’s how we can help the off season golfer.
Begin with physical assessments. While I have developed a 10-point assessment as they relate to the biomechanics of the golf swing, I’d like to share three with you and how they relate to the golf swing.
- Side Bend Test. This test is used to assess spinal range of motion. Stand with your feet together and your heels, gluteus, back and head against a wall. Slide your hand down your leg while maintaining contact with the wall. Go as far as you can while avoiding flexion and extension. The goal is to reach the joint line of your knees on each side equally. Any limits in this area can produce swing faults such as limited coiling in the backswing, overcompensation to the shoulder because of lack of flexibility in the spine, and excessive sway in the backswing.
- Apley Scratch Test. This test is used to evaluate the internal and external rotation of the shoulders. Start by placing your right hand over the top of your shoulders with the goal of touching the top inside corner of the opposite shoulder blade. Any limitations here will clearly illustrate shortened and tight external rotators. Now reach behind the back and try touching the lower part of your opposite shoulder blade. Any limitations noted will reflect the tightened muscles in the internal rotators. Resulting swing faults from tight external rotators will restrict the potential in a complete follow through.
- Thoracic Extension Test. This test is used to evaluate adequate extension of the thoracic spine. Place your heels about 12 inches from a wall. Allow your back, head and hips to make full contact with the wall. Raise your arms slowly overhead as you attempt to touch the wall. If your middle back is unable to extend properly and you are unable to keep your head in contact with the wall, this is an indication that your thoracic spine requires more flexibility. Lack of adequate extension is a leading cause of shoulder injury as the compensation forces excessive movement of the arms.
Teach Corrective Stretches. Once you have determined where the weaknesses exist, you can begin with flexibility exercises in order to restore optimal mobility for the golf swing. These will not only lead to enhanced playing performance but protect the golfer from injury as well.
For any questions or comments regarding this article please contact Susan Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Golf Biomechanic’s Manual, Paul Chek
Explosive Golf, Michael Yessis, Ph.D.