Over the last twenty years, but particularly in the last ten, there has been far more emphasis placed on improving fitness to help improve the golf swing. Tiger Woods’ arrival on the PGA Tour has contributed significantly to this rapidly growing industry within the game of golf. Golf instructors have realized that to enable their students to make the changes they need in their swings, they need to improve on their fitness.
For many people, they are unable to make changes in their golf swing due to some limiting factors such as a lack of flexibility or strength in key areas of the body. Therefore, it is a good idea for the golfer to get a complete assessment of their physical abilities. A professional such as a physical therapist, personal trainer, chiropractor or a combination of all three can provide this complete assessment to the golfer if they are knowledgeable of the mechanics of the golf swing.
A proper assessment will address the following areas:
The first area is the alignment of the head, shoulders and hips. The trainer will make note of any curvature in the spine, rounding of the shoulders and the position of the ears in relation to the shoulders. Poor posture characteristics will result in poor posture as the golfer addresses the ball.
Next, the trainer will assess the balancing ability of the golfer. For instance, if the golfer is unable to stand on one leg for 60 seconds, there will be balance issues in their golf swing.
A lack of core strength will also affect balance and posture in the golf swing. This is an area that many golfers who pick up the game later in life may have an issue, particularly if they have not engaged in many other athletic activities or physical training since childhood.
Next, the trainer might assess the golfer’s rotational ability in the shoulders. If there are issues with the rotator cuff, shoulder joint or flexibility in the shoulder muscles, the golfer may have a difficult time lifting the arms properly in the back swing, and swinging them properly in the follow through. As a result, they may make compensations elsewhere in an attempt to swing the club properly. One such compensation may be what is referred to as a reverse pivot. The student will tilt the hips so that that spine leans toward the target in an effort to lift the arms higher in the back swing. This action often leads to inconsistent ball striking.
Moving on, the trainer should assess the golfer’s ability to rotate the torso. The golfer must be able to rotate the torso to some extent without turning the hips or shoulders. An inability to rotate the torso might result in a compensation elsewhere, such as an over rotation of the hips in the back swing.
The trainer will also gauge the golfer’s ability to tilt and curl the pelvis without changing posture. A lack of mobility in this area might also result in an inability to maintain posture during the swing and develop power in the swing.
Finally, the trainer will assess the golfer’s overall strength and coordination. The golf swing is a complex athletic move, so if the golfer is deficient in these areas, it will be virtually impossible for them to make a good, balanced golf swing.
Upon completion of this assessment, the trainer will develop a fitness program to address the areas where the golfer demonstrates weakness. Specific strength training and flexibility exercises will be employed in this program to attack these weak areas, and also to improve the areas where they are already strong.
No matter what level of your fitness, developing a proper fitness program will allow you to make improvements to your golf swing. If you are struggling to make improvements to your golf swing, a physical assessment is something that should be considered as it will identify any issues that are keeping you from making the swing improvements prescribed by your instructor.