There are many important areas in regards to physical fitness, even when it comes to golf.
Through my experience working with professionals, juniors, adults, and amateurs, I have found that these five areas are necessary in order to play golf safely and effectively for a longer duration:
Stability is important in the golf swing because it helps a player become more consistent. If parts of your body are moving in different directions, it becomes increasingly difficult to know where the ball will go when you swing the club. Stability is achieved when the body works in the correct sequence.
Two great exercises that we use on the range at the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy to help stability are:
- Feel Your Feet: (The location of your weight dictates how much stability you have in your swing.) – video
- Pelvic Tilts- (Anterior-Posterior-Find Neutral) This goes hand-in-hand with the first exercise. The location of your pelvis determines where your weight will be at any point in the golf swing.
Being flexible is important so that you can go through the whole range of motions of the golf swing with a reduced amount of stress on the body. Being flexible in the correct places will greatly reduce your risk of injury. As we age, flexibility decreases due to a lack of stretching/physical activity, and it causes deviations in the golf swing to hit the ball.
For instance, if there is no internal rotation of your hip, then the upper body will have to over rotate to compensate for the lack of mobility at the hip joint. Two great exercises for flexibility are listed below:
- Clam Shells: (internal and external rotation of the hip)
- I’s, Y’s,T’s, W’s, and L’s in golf posture (Motions of the shoulder)
Balance differs from stability in that something that is stabile can take and transfer forces from different directions, whereas something that is balanced cannot.
For example, stand on one leg and try to do a row. Although you are balanced, this is very difficult. Now, stand with both feet on the ground spread your feet a little further than shoulder width apart and try the same row. This is much easier because you have obtained stability. By definition, a stable object is balanced, but a balanced object is not necessarily stabile. Balance is important in the golf swing because our weight starts in the center but shifts from one foot to the other rapidly. Two exercises to help improve balance are:
- Single Leg Balance eyes open and closed
- Single Leg balance with arm raises
A combination of stability and mobility is essential when trying to obtain separation. Separation occurs when the upper body works independently from the lower body and vice versa. Separation in the golf swing is essential to transfer power to the golf ball. Again, if all parts are moving together there is no separation thus, the power output will be minimal.
For example, take a towel and try to swing it with no whip. This is like a golf swing with no separation. Now, take the towel and try to crack it like a whip. There is much more power there because of the separation of the two parts of the towel. This represents separation in a powerful golf swing. Two great exercises to help improve your separation are:
- Helicopter Lunges- Lower body is stable as the upper body rotates. – video
- Knee Overs: Your upper body is stable as your lower body rotates.
Golf is a rotary sport, so it makes sense that proper rotation of the different parts of the body is important. If the upper body rotates properly, then you will not have to compensate with the lower body and vice versa. Proper rotation of the upper body and the lower body is difficult, but can be obtained through the implementation of exercises and practicing movement patterns with quality.
Three great exercises for proper rotation are listed below:
- Cross body band punches
- Pelvic Rotations in golf posture with a stable upper body
- Torso Rotations in golf posture with a stabile lower body
These five areas are not the only areas of fitness that are important, they are extremely important for all golfers to reduce the risk of injuries, be more consistent and to enjoy the game for a longer period of time.