4 Ways to Improve Your Golf Swing
Sport science is at an all-time high – if you’re not regularly strength training, then you’re missing out. As a strength coach that works with athletes as young as 14, I can tell you that things are competitive regardless of the sport. And golf is no exception. After all, if everyone on the green has equal mechanics in the golf swing, then what in the world is going to separate you guys when it comes time for competition?
The issue with strength and conditioning is that most people immediately think of a heavy bench press and a ton of meatheads grunting. Remember, we’re talking sport science here, so the emphasis is on enhancing your performance. Squats and chin ups work great for burning body fat but we need a different approach to make you a better athlete (although in most cases, reducing bodyfat helps performance tremendously). It’s possible that the latest golf swing analyzer app is really just a qualified personal trainer that understands movement science.
Here’s four ways you can improve your golf swing. While the club pro can give you advice on the mechanics of your game, this stuff helps make you a better athlete. Consider this an overview of the basics – stay tuned for future editions that will give into the gritty details of each.
- Work on your power – Power is simply doing work in a fast amount of time. Like a baseball player warms up with a heavier bat to increase the power of their swing, every athlete needs to work quickly. The issue is that everyone has different muscle fibers (in sport science we use muscle fibers to describe muscle cells. We don’t use the word cell because we like to make everything confusing). Some fibers are built for endurance while a select few are designed for power. Genetics plays a big part in what kind of muscle fibers nature gives you, but doing heavy medicine ball swings and cable rotations can help you drive the ball faster and farther. But before you can produce power, you need some…
- Strength – Being strong is the foundation for power. Everything starts from the ground up; the better your feet can “communicate” with the ground, the stronger your hips and core will be. What I mean by communicate is the ability to produce a lot of force. This all translates into a more efficient swing. The more efficient you are, there’s a lower chance for injury along with wasting less energy from swing to swing. You need to be strong in order to produce power. It’s no coincidence that those with impressive jumps and throws tend to be incredibly strong too. Heavy deadlifts, squats, woodchops with a cable, and Turkish Get Ups can all develop a stronger core.
- Hip mobility – That thing you sit on all day – to put it politely, your backside- is actually a muscle. The less you use it, then the tighter and weaker it becomes. There’s a lot of muscle in your hip complex, and if those muscles get tight, it can cause pain in your hips, ankles, knees, and low back. Those tight hips can even wreck your golf game regardless of how many different clubs you use. For example, let’s say your right hip is excessively tight. Those bunched up muscles can literally shut off the nerves that feed your muscles. This is a protective mechanism so your body doesn’t hurt itself. As a result, your body isn’t able to produce as much force. Static stretching – simply holding a stretch- won’t fix the problem. You need to give yourself an aggressive massage to break up stiff tissue. Just say “foam roller” or “lacrosse ball” to any Upper Echelon client and you’ll see a look of horror on their face. We’ll talk more about mobility in a later post.
- Conditioning- Let’s just be honest here – you’re not doing repeated sprints on the golf course. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need a base of conditioning. Conditioning can improve your aerobic and anaerobic fitness – this means that you’ll have a lower resting heart rate, increase in blood volume, and the ability for your muscles to recover faster from work. Like an archer or a sniper, it’s better to have the body calm when it’s time to concentrate. What do you think will be easier when it comes time to make a putt: a heart rate of 110 BPM or 160 BPM? A simple drill would be to simply swing a heavy golf club for multiple sets of 10 reps – just pair the sets with short rest intervals. You could also use heavy battle ropes.
So there you have it – four different ways to improve your golf swing. Organizing your workouts into 10 minutes of strength work, 10 minutes of power training, 15 minutes of conditioning, and 10 minutes of mobility work. 45 minutes of work performed three days a week means just a couple of hours a week to improve your golf game. Next time you go to the store to buy some golf balls grab yourself a pair of dumbbells too.