For golfers who want to perform their best, staying fit is a necessity, not an option. This is borne out by the fact that roughly 85 percent of PGA Tour players engage in a daily workout regimen.
While the average player doesn’t have access to the same facilities as professional golfers, there’s no reason he or she can’t put into practice some simple steps to maximize on-course results. And with the new golf season upon us, there’s no better time to start.
My work with the PGA of America and the Cybex Institute for Exercise Science has led me to recognize that all players will benefit by focusing on four key areas: posture, lateral stability, balance and rotation.
Maintaining consistent postural alignment during the swing is crucial. Research shows that most golfers have a tendency to move their hips and pelvis toward the ball, which changes the swing plane and causes the spine to bend excessively, producing limited rotation and an arm dominated motion that saps power and accuracy.
Train your body to maintain consistent posture by:
Stand with your back to a wall and take a normal golf stance
With your buttocks touching the wall, practice making a full swing (without club), while maintaining contact at all times
Stability is essential to creating an efficient and repeatable swing. Ideally, you want to shift your center of gravity only 10 percent from side to side in order to rotate efficiently. Moving too far left or right can cause major problems.
Use side planks to work the hip abductors and core muscles and improve lateral stability:
- Lie down on your side
- Prop yourself on an elbow
- Elevate your hips until your spine is straightened
- Hold the position for a few seconds
- Lower hips and repeat
Consistent ball contact is facilitated by heel-to-toe balance, yet contrary to popular belief there’s little measurable benefit to practicing your swing on an unstable surface like an exercise ball. Instead, try simply standing on one foot, lifting the other in the air, and swinging it forwards and backwards while remaining stable. For an added challenge, try swinging your arms or rotating your torso in circles. This can be performed slowly or quickly, depending on your comfort level.
Body rotation during the swing is a complicated sequence of movements. Flexibility of the hips and spine is crucial to generating club head speed and maximizing distance.
The “figure 4” is a great stretch to improve rotation by effectively stretching the lower back, hips and shoulders:
While seated, cross one leg over the other so that your ankle is resting on the knee or thigh of the opposite leg
- Lean forward, focusing on keeping your spine extended.
- Hold this position for a few seconds and repeat with the opposite leg
These exercises are a great first step toward a more advanced fitness regimen like those used by Tour pros. If you’re interested in having golf fitness at your club, please visit www.cybexgolf.com to learn more about a golf fitness solution. Additional exercise science information related to sports performance can be found at www.cybexinstitute.com.