At the 2016 World Golf Fitness Summit I attended a lecture presented by Liam Mucklow. Liam played professional golf and competed at the World Long Drive Finals. The topic of his lecture was improving the kinematic sequence of the golf swing. The kinematic sequence describes the way great ball strikers generate club head speed. Regardless of swing style, research has proved that great ball strikers generate speed the same way. The kinematic sequence describes this method. In order to create the most speed possible, transition into the downswing must start with lateral weight transfer to the lead leg, followed by rotation of the lower body, then the upper body, arms, and the club last.
Proper Kinematic Sequence/Order of the Downswing:
Lower body rotation
Upper body rotation
At FitGolf Performance Centers we use technology called K-Vest to see if our clients have a proper kinematic sequence. Almost all golfers I evaluate that desire a more powerful swing display a poor kinematic sequence. There is not a simple solution for fixing a bad downswing. Not one body is the same and there are a number of physical restrictions that act as road blocks to a good swing. If you feel like your body acts against you in the golf swing, you should seek the help of a TPI Certified personal trainer, athletic trainer, physical therapist, or chiropractor.
Liam provided some really interesting interventions to improving the kinematic sequence. One of the interventions that really stuck with me utilized a baseball swing. To understand the glaring similarities between a powerful baseball swing and golf swing let’s take a look at two examples of power at its finest. Let’s start with hall of famer Ken Griffey Jr.
In my opinion, that is the most beautiful swing in the history of baseball. Take note at the sequencing of movements when he goes to hit the ball. First, he plants hard into his lead leg. Second, he creates lower body rotation. Third, his upper body rotates. Fourth, he swings his arms. Lastly, he releases the bat and made the night for one lucky fan sitting deep in the outfield.
Now lets look at a golf example. I’m going to use Bubba Watson, a Masters Champion with an unconventional yet undeniably powerful swing…
Take a look at his downswing. The sequencing of movement is exactly like Griffey’s, isn’t it?
So what is the take-away of all of this? We know that powerful ball strikers sequence the downswing the same regardless of swing style. We also know that sequencing of a powerful baseball swing is exactly the same as the golf swing. Hence, you should practice the baseball swing to become a more powerful golfer!
Next time you practice go through your warm-up routine, then, before you hit golf balls take 10-20 baseball swings BOTH right and left handed. Make sure you practice good kinematic sequence. Always make sure your lead leg is planted before the bat or golf club rotates. Once you completed your baseball swings, forget about proper sequencing. Once again, once your done the baseball swings FORGET ABOUT PROPER SEQUENCING! If you practice these baseball swings regularly over time, your body will develop a new motor pattern, or muscle memory. Once this happen, the kinematic sequence will become a natural thing for you (that is if you do not have major physical restrictions getting in your way).
If you have any questions about golf fitness please contact Jason directly at [email protected].
How different would your scores be if you could drive 10, 20, or even 30 yards further? When our golfers here at FitGolf Performance Centers set their goals, rarely is additional yardage left out. As a golf fitness coach, I consider many factors before implementing a golf fitness exercise power training program. First thing considered is mobility. Without adequate mobility in the body’s joints, your muscles will not be able to lengthen to the extent which is necessary to create elastic energy to generate power. The more range of motion a golfer is able to obtain, the more power they will be able to generate. However, range of motion is not the only precursor to power. Golfers with great range of motion will only be able to use it to their benefit as long as they have adequate stability in their joints. The body’s joints have an alternating mobility-stability pattern. For example, the joints in the lumbar spine (low back) provide your torso with stability so your mobile joints in the thoracic spine (mid-upper back) have a solid foundation to rotate off of. If stability in your lumbar spine is compromised due to weak “core” musculature, it is impossible to safely and correctly achieve rotation in your thoracic spine, which is crucial to a powerful golf swing. Golf Fitness Exercises can help all of these things.
Golfers of different gender and age usually have issues with mobility, stability, or both. We generally see that men tend to have more issues related to mobility, but adequate stability. On the flip side, women and junior golfers tend to have much better mobility, but less stability. Every individual’s body is unique and it is important to have specific physical issues, whether pertaining to mobility or stability, identified by a golf fitness professional through a comprehensive evaluation and implementation of golf fitness exercises.
Once full joint range of motion and stability of all the body’s joints is established, it is then appropriate to implement power training into your golf fitness exercise program. Half kneeling medicine ball chop slams is a great beginner-intermediate exercise to start out with. This exercise requires a medicine ball and a partner or wall to which you will be bouncing the medicine ball to. Here’s how they are performed:
Start by kneeling on your left knee with your right foot out in front of you. With the medicine ball in your hands, elongate your spine to become as tall as possible and tightly squeeze your left glute and abdominals. From here you are going to use both hands to bring the medicine ball diagonally over your right shoulder. While maintaining balance and a tall posture, bounce the ball across your body with the goal of slamming it to the ceiling or over your partner’s head. It is critical keep your core engaged in order to maintain balance and generate the most power. If you do not have a medicine ball, you can use a 5-10 lb. weight. Just make sure you do not release the weight once you bring in across your body. Perform 5-10 repetitions and switch knees and directions of the bounce or chop.
For any questions relating to mobility, stability, and/or power, please email me at [email protected]
It is well documented that core strength is critical to prevent injury, back pain, and improve the golf swing. When I evaluate a golfer new to golf-specific fitness I often hear that he or she does “core strengthening” in their current exercise routine. My first question is always, “what do you mean, core strengthening?” Too often the response is, “Oh well you know, crunches, the ab machine where you press your chest down, things like that.” After full evaluation, 9 times out of 10 this individual exhibits weak core musculature, poor posture, flawed movement, and swing faults that will leave them prone to injury and pain.
Is your “core” work promoting bad swing habits?
When picking exercises for core strengthening make sure you pick exercises that will improve function and ability in whatever activity you partake in. Crunches and stationary abdominal machines (and resistance machines in general) are highly likely to be the wrong choice for golfers. The crunch and ab machines usually promote upper (thoracic) spine flexion. This rounds the shoulders and puts the back into a humped position. As a golfer, this is not a position you want to be training in. Excessive upper spine flexion and shoulder rounding promotes poor posture, rotation and flaws in the golf swing. In addition, crunches and other ab exercises that require you flex from the shoulders down to the hips can put a lot of stress down the neck and low (lumbar) spine. If you’re looking to improve your golf swing, avoid this type of core training.
In this crunch/sit-up exercise the spine forms the shape of a C. This is counterproductive when trying to improve your golf.
For beginners, abdominal strengthening should focus on holding positions that promote anti-extension (arching) of the low back. One simple yet effective exercise that does this is called the dead-bug exercise (click link to view the exercise and instructions). With this exercise make sure you keep your abs braced and your low back flat and pressed into the floor. The dead-bug exercise will help you maintain neutral posture and avoid swing flaws (and hence prevent back pain and injuries!)
For intermediates, the classic exercise called plank is a great way you can challenge yourself. To execute a proper plank, start by laying face down on the floor. Position your elbows directly under your shoulders and make sure your toes and feet are flexed and curled up toward the shins. Before you lift into the plank position, contract both your abs and glutes, and make sure your knees are locked out. From here, lift your body off the floor and hold as long as possible. It is very important that you can maintain contraction of both the abs and glutes throughout the set. If you are unable to keep the abs and glutes contracted, lower yourself and take a rest before your next set.
I must stress that golf fitness usually does not look like traditional fitness. If you are unsure whether or not your current fitness routine is helping your golf game, I suggest you find a TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Certified Golf Fitness Professional in your area for an assessment. If you have any questions about golf fitness please feel free to email me at [email protected]
Better swing sequence is crucial for consistent ball striking. So developing good sequencing can be challenging for the amateur golfer. As a result the amateur golfer may not develop good swing sequence.
Check out this video courtesy of Jeremy Klinkhamer (FitGolf San Diego) and SoCal Golf Insider. He will teach you an exercise that are especially relevant for learning a better sequencing.
This is part 2 (continued) of a 4-part series examining different phases of the golf swing. These phases include the set-up, backswing, transition into the downswing, and weight shift and rotation to impact. Most know that each phase is important into achieving a consistent and powerful golf swing. As a result this series will provide are simple exercise interventions to make each phase easier for the amateur golfer. This article is about physical interventions and exercises to make a better backswing.
In my previous posts I discussed ways to improve your address posture and backswing. Before you start thinking about improving your movement in the downswing you must make sure your positioning at the top of your swing is correct. It’s unlikely that I move onto downswing movement training if a client exhibits swing flaws at the top of the swing such as reverse spine angle, reverse pivot, and/or over rotation of the hips and shoulders. Based on my experience, a vast majority of amateur golfers exhibit at least one of these flaws at the top of the swing.
One of the best ways to avoid flaws at the top of the swing is to make sure the trail leg and foot is properly loaded and performing the role as stabilizer of the upper body and shoulder rotation (unless you use stack and tilt). Ideally, at the top of the swing the trail leg and foot should accept the majority of the golfer’s weight. More specifically, the back of the trail foot and heel should be loaded at the top. More times than not, golfers I assess do in fact get the majority of body weight to the trail leg. However, most do not properly get to the heel of the foot.
The key to loading the trail leg and heel is to keep the leg stable and eliminate almost all lateral motion in the backswing. A golfer can have one or more multiple physical restrictions making proper weight shift and load difficult. What we know is that a golfer must have adequate hip internal rotation (over 45 degrees), strong hip muscles and glutes, great balance, and good movement patterning to be successful.
There’s a great swing drill you can use to determine if you have what it takes to properly load your trail foot consistently. It’s called the trail leg loaded backswing. In your address, shift 80-90% of your weight to your trail leg with the knee slightly bent. Now take a slow backswing while maintaining 80-90% of your weight on the trail leg. Make sure your knee does not move or change its angle. You know you are doing this successfully if you are able to make a full backswing without moving your weight away from the heel of the trail foot or without the knee straightening out or “bowing” outside of the foot. If you struggle doing this then it’s likely you have a physical restriction such as poor hip mobility, strength, or balance.
On the left, you will see poor loading of the trail hip. Notice how his weight rolls to the outside of the foot and the knee bows out.
It is difficult to self-evaluate golf specific physical restrictions. I recommend that if you struggled doing the drill correctly that you seek out golf fitness professional. In conclusion great ball striking requires proper loading of trail leg and foot. In my next post we will turn our attention away from the back swing and move to part 3, transition into the downswing. If you have any questions about how your body affects your golf swing, please email me directly at [email protected].
Golf Fitness Coach
FitGolf Performance Centers of the Delaware Valley
This is part 2 of a 4-part series examining different phases of the golf swing. These phases include the set-up, back swing, transition into the downswing, and weight shift and rotation to impact. Most know that each phase is important into achieving a consistent and powerful golf swing. What this series will provide are simple exercise interventions to make each phase easier for the amateur golfer. Today I will be writing about physical interventions and exercises to make a better back swing.
In my previous post (see previous post), I discussed what makes for a better backswing. Specifically, I discussed proper sequencing in the backswing. We know that to properly sequence the backswing the upper body must rotationally separate from the lower body. This is difficult for many amateur golfers due to physical restrictions and weaknesses in both the upper and lower body. I gave you all some basic exercises to improve the backswing which included open books, clam shells, and bridges. Hopefully you had an opportunity to try those out and make improvements in your range of motion and strength. Today I want to give you more advanced exercises to take your rotational abilities to the next level.
The next 3 exercises will take place in the half kneeling position. In conventional fitness the half kneeling position is often overlooked, but it provides a great way to perform golf specific exercises because it makes it easy to target important muscle groups for the swing. In the half kneeling position, I want your thought to be “tall and tight”. The top of your head should be as close to the ceiling as possible. Focus hard on the core muscle groups. This includes the glute (butt cheek) of the down knee, and the abdominal muscles. Make sure your upper body is not slumped by puffing your chest out.
The three exercises I want you to perform are half kneeling rotations, chops, and lifts. When you are performing half kneeling rotations, focus more on keeping your lower body still and stable, and less on how far your shoulders are turning. I’d rather see you exhibit less shoulder turn with no lower body movement, as opposed to more shoulder turn with some lower body movement. If you focus on contracting your glute and abs, you will be more successful. Executing the half kneeling rotation correctly will make it more likely that you will be able to separate your upper body from your lower body throughout the golf swing.
Proper Half Kneeling Positioning
When you are performing half kneeling chops and lifts, make sure the resistance band feels like a moderate resistance level. It is better that you focus on remaining stable rather than pulling and pushing a heavy band or weight. If you don’t have resistance bands at home, then you can simply chop and lift with an object that weighs anywhere from 5-15 lbs. The goal remains the same, keep your body stable! Initially when you chop and lift, do not rotate your shoulders. Nothing should move besides your hands and arms. Once you feel very stable, then you can begin to rotate the shoulders. Make sure shoulder rotation does not cause lower body movement. If it does, then go back to no rotation until you improve your stability. Half kneeling chops and lifts are a great core exercise that will make you more likely to remain stable and in posture throughout the golf swing.
Half-Kneeling Chops with Rotation
Do 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps of each exercise. Perform these exercises as often as you can for 2-3 weeks and you will surely feel more control and mobility in your backswing. In my next post I will talk about what’s physically required to make a good transition into the downswing to set you up for powerful and consistent ball striking. If you have any questions about this or golf fitness in general, please email me directly at [email protected].
In 2013 and 2014 we put out a series of tips for trainers and golf clubs to help them start, improve or grow their golf fitness business. The golf clubs would use the information to improve amenities for their club members and the trainers would use the information to grow their fitness revenue. It’s recently been brought to our attention that Clubs and trainers all over the country are asking for new ways to improve their golf fitness business and grow revenue.
The times have changed since we started these tips back in 2013! What worked very well then may still work some, but now adjustments had to be made to get the same level of success (or better). Therefore, throughout the 2016 business year, we will be sending you updated tips on a bi-weekly basis to help you grow your golf fitness business.
Two ways we can help each other:
1. Send me ANY questions you may want to get answers for. If we don’t have the answers, we will utilize our golf fitness relationships and resources to research the answers for you. We will then post the question along with the answer so all can benefit.
2. Send us any of your success stories utilizing any of the ideas you get from these tips, or even the ideas you come up with yourself or anywhere else.
Below, you will find some of the content we will be covering throughout the year. The information we provide will not be limited to just this list, and it will come in no particular order. We may find that a question submitted by the reading audience gives us an important subject to expound on and share with all the rest of you.
Looking forward to hearing your ideas,
Fran Rosario, Sr. V.P. Business Development and Marketing – FitGolf Performance Centers
Golf Fitness Business Building tips for 2016
Series: Using Social Media
The Need for Social Media
Which Social Media Outlets
Series: Building golf fitness at Golf Clubs
Phases of Building a Golf Club On-sit golf fitness business / Initial Research and Prospecting
Ideas for researching viability of an On-site golf fitness program
Sample Letter to a golf Professional
Creating a survey to determine viability and interest for golf fitness at a golf club
Following up on your On-site prospect cultivation
Building a Proposal for the golf fitness program at the Golf Club
Questions to ask the golf club to build your proposal
Series: Ideas for getting more golf fitness clients – Referral Systems
Building Referral Systems
Referral System Ideas #1 – Utilizing your CURRENT client base
Referral System Ideas #2 – Ask for referrals as part of your presentation (or script)
Referral System Ideas #3 – Utilizing surveys with your current clients
Referral System Ideas #4 – Networking groups
Referral System Ideas #5 – Off-Season or “Slow time” requests for referrals
Referral System Ideas #6 – Reward System
Series: Drawing in Junior Golfers
What is the Junior Golfer looking for
Creating the perfect event to draw the junior golfer
Getting Adult golfers from a junior event
This is part 2 of a 4 part series examining different phases of the golf swing. These phases include the set-up, back swing, transition into the downswing, and weight shift and rotation to impact. Most know that each phase is important into achieving a consistent and powerful golf swing. What this series will provide are simple exercise interventions to make each phase easier for the amateur golfer. Today I will be writing about physical interventions and exercises to make a better back swing.
In previous posts (see post 1 and post 1B) I talked about the importance of posture and gave you some exercises to help improve your golf address and set-up. Without going into detail (click links if you would like details!), I cannot underemphasize the importance of getting into a good set-up. It truly sets the stage for more success with the following phases of the golf swing. Once you improve your posture, it’s time to start thinking about improving your backswing.
Proper sequencing and maintenance of posture in the backswing is crucial for developing a consistent and powerful swing. It is widely accepted that the correct sequence of the backswing leads with a takeaway of the club head with the hands and arms, followed by rotation of the torso, and then rotation of the hips. Many amateur golfers tend rotate into the backswing without any separation of their upper and lower body. This makes it impossible to achieve proper back-swing sequencing and leads to a greater risk of loss of posture The consequence of this is an increased chance that your club head will deviate off plane which will lead to inconsistent ball striking
Again, the proper sequence of the back-swing is hands, torso, hips. Sounds easy, right? Not so fast. When I evaluate the movements of golfers just beginning golf fitness programs I commonly see the inability of them to independently rotate their upper and lower body. Most beginners will not be able to rotate their torso while keeping the hips still, and vise versa. If the golfer cannot independently rotate the upper and lower body then swing flaws in the backswing are likely.
One exercise called the Torso Acceleration drill is a great way to test your ability to rotate your upper body independently of the lower body. Begin this drill by assuming a neutral address posture right in front of a wall and cross your arms around your chest. In this position, both of your glutes (butt cheeks) should be lightly touching the wall. Now, while maintaining glute contact with the wall, rotate your torso into a backswing position. If your left butt cheek (for a right handed golfer) leaves the wall then you know your hips are rotating with your torso. This should be avoided! Return to a neutral position and repeat to the other side.
There are a number of reasons as to why golfers struggle to rotationally separate their upper body from their lower body. I suggest you find golf fitness professional in your area to pinpoint your physical weaknesses and restrictions. However, issues with upper body rotational separation commonly come from upper body restriction in rotational range of motion, and poor stability of the lower body and hips. To improve your range of motion and mobility, try doing the open book exercise. To improve the strength and stability at your hips, try the clam shell and glute bridge exercise. Do these for a week or two and come back and re-assess the Torso Acceleration drill. You should see an improvement of both the drill and your ability to properly sequence and maintain posture in the golf swing.
In my next post I will continue to talk about the backswing and provide more advanced exercises for you to try. If you have any questions about this or golf fitness in general, please email me directly at [email protected].
Believe it or not, the start of golf season is rapidly approaching. Although it seems winter will never end, it’s time to begin tuning up your body. The winter tends to lead to a lifestyle that’s more sedentary than the warmer months. As a result, you might be coming out of the winter tighter or less flexible than you are during the summer months. Not only will this affect your early scores negatively, but it will also increase the chance of injury during chilly spring golf. Over the next month or so, I will be posting tips to keep the most commonly tight muscle groups loose for the start of golf season. Today we will discuss the hamstring muscle group.
Hamstrings are the muscles behind the thighs which originate from the pelvis and attach below the knee. The hamstrings take part in controlling the degree to which your pelvis and spine can bend forward in the address position of your golf swing and can dictate how well you maintain your posture throughout the swing. If you’re not able to touch their toes in the standing position, the chances of you maintaining posture in the golf swing significantly decrease and hence, lead to inconsistent golfing and a greater chance of injury.
If you think you suffer from tight hamstrings and they are affecting your posture throughout the golf swing, try the following hamstring stretch which will allow you to achieve ideal posture at address and minimize swing flaws influenced by hamstring tightness
Find a corner of a wall in your home where you can lay down on your back. Place your right foot up against the wall and your left leg flat on the floor. Make sure that your right knee is fully extended or “locked out” by squeezing your right thigh muscle and bend your right ankle down toward you so you feel a gentle stretch in your right calf. . Choose a distance from the wall in which the stretch is challenging, yet tolerable. From here, squeeze your abdominals and make sure your low back is pressed against the floor. If you are properly positioned away from the wall, this will create a stretching sensation in the back of your knee, your upper and lower hamstring, and the calf muscles. If the stretch feels intolerable, move farther away from the wall and reposition your leg. When you have found the right distance from the wall, hold the stretch position for 3-5 minutes or until a complete release of the stretch feeling has been accomplished. Switch legs and repeat the stretch.
You can advance the stretch when ready by gradually moving closer to the wall and sliding your leg farther up the wall. Perform this exercise at least 5 days per week. You should begin to notice a big difference in your ability to maintain posture throughout the swing. For any questions related to flexibility and fitness for golf please contact me directly at [email protected] Good luck!
It is well documented that core strength is imperative to prevent injury, back pain, and improve the golf swing. When I am evaluating a new golfer I often hear that he or she does “core strengthening” in their current exercise routine. My first question is always, “what do you mean, core strengthening?” Too often the response is, “Oh well you know, crunches, the ab machine where you press your chest down, things like that.” After full evaluation, 9 times out of 10 this individual exhibits weak core musculature, poor posture, flawed movement, and swing faults that will leave them prone to injury and pain. It turns out that they are not doing work to prevent injury and pain, but they are actually doing things to PROMOTE injury and pain.
When picking exercises for core strengthening make sure you pick exercises that will improve function in whatever activity you partake in. Crunches and stationary abdominal machines are highly likely to be the wrong choice for golfers and athletes in general. The crunch and ab machines usually promote upper (thoracic) spine flexion. This rounds the shoulders and puts the back into a humped position. As a golfer, this is not a position you want to be training in. Excessive upper spine flexion and shoulder rounding promotes poor rotation and flaws in the golf swing. In addition, crunches and other ab exercises that require you flex from the shoulders down to the hips can put a lot of stress down the neck and low (lumbar) spine. Let’s keep it simple, if you’re looking to improve your golf swing, avoid this type of core training.
For beginners, abdominal strengthening should focus on holding positions that promote anti-extension (arching) of the low back. One simple yet effective exercise that does this is called the dead-bug exercise (click link to view the exercise and instructions). With this exercise make sure you keep your abs braced and your low back flat and pressed into the floor.
For intermediates, a classic exercise called plank is a great way you can challenge yourself. With the plank make sure you start with your belly on the floor. Position your elbows directly under your shoulders and make sure your toes and feet are flexed and curled up toward the shins. Before you lift into the plank position, contract both your abs and glutes, and make sure your legs are locked out and as long as possible. It is very important that you can maintain contraction of BOTH the abs and glutes throughout the set. If you lose the glute contraction, lower yourself and take a rest before your next set.
For advanced golf fitness enthusiasts, these exercises should be used for warm-up and activation techniques before larger and more dynamic lifts and movements.
If you have any questions about core strengthening strategies and techniques for golf, please contact me directly by email at [email protected].
Jason Rivkin, ATC, CGFI-FP1 Head Golf Fitness Coach at FitGolf Performance Centers of the Delaware Valley