Improving Your Golf Game Requires Changes Before the First Swing
The 2013 golf season is in full swing. Whether a person plays golf twice a week or twice a year, a desire to improve the overall round is always present. What most golfers don’t know is that the way they exercise and train can make all the difference in their game. Although there are more things that separate us from the pros than we like to admit, one of the most important things we can do, something the pros do, is a proper pre-round stretching routine.
The idea of a pre-round routine is not a new concept, and it should be an essential part of every golfer’s game. When we turn on a basketball game or a boxing match, we often see the warm-ups and pre-activity routines. One of the misconceptions about golf is that all you need are a few practice swings before you tee off. Additionally, many players think that a simple stretch is good enough before they go out to the driving range. Although it shouldn’t take a lot of time, the right activities need to be executed. The problem is that many people are doing things that will work against their goal to play better golf.
The key is going back to the basics and learning how to properly prepare your body for a round of golf. Simply throwing your leg up on a bench to stretch or grabbing your foot behind your back will actually do the opposite of what you are trying to accomplish. Stretching improperly can actually make you weaker because it can spread muscles apart instead of preparing them for the movements they are about to experience. Studies show stretching incorrectly can make you up to 8% weaker.
An important rule to keep in mind is your movements should emulate the same actions you carry out while on the course. Golfers should adopt a routine that focuses on three specific areas: balance, the turn of the hips, and the back. If you concentrate on these areas by moving accurately, you can prevent injury and you will play better golf. By having a proper pre-round routine, the exercises will increase your flexibility to go beyond your current swing, making it easier to have a proper swing, and ultimately improve your round.
Three activities that address these areas are:
Open Book creates more flexibility in your upper back, as well as more hip and shoulder separation. Start on your side with your knees pulled up to your chest and your arms extended out in front of you. Keep your knees steady and stacked on top of each other while raising the top arm and reaching it back toward the floor behind you. Allow your trunk to turn, and try to press your top shoulder to the floor. Breathe deeply to increase your range of motion. If one side is tighter than the other, do a few more stretches on that side until both sides are even.
Windshield Wipers help you to get more turn out of your hips. Start on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Keeping your lower back pressed to the floor, push one knee down toward the ground. Return to your starting position and repeat with the other leg. If one side doesn’t reach down as far, do a few extra stretches on that side to increase your range of motion.
Balance Foot Matrix:
The Three Toe Touch ties together the Windshield Wipers and the Open Book to build a better golf swing from the ground up. It will teach your feet, knees, and hips proper sequencing as well as improve your balance. Start this exercise by getting in golf posture, your feet shoulder width apart. Keep your posture and shift all your weight to your left side so just your right toe is touching the ground. Remain balanced on your left foot and turn so your foot passes in front of your body (try to keep your balance and remain in golf posture). This is the same movement and stability that your left leg has to manage during the follow through. With the weight still on your left foot, reverse the movement and open the hips and shoulders until the right foot touches behind you. This is now the flexibility and mobility that your left leg needs during the takeaway. Repeat on each side.
Challenge yourself this season and incorporate the exercises above. When these are done properly and continuously, you will see an improvement in your overall strength, and most importantly, your golf game.
Damon Shelton is the Founder and CEO of Method Athlete. With more than 15 years of experience as a fitness professional and golf performance specialist, he has a passion for the study of human movement and how it relates to athletic performance. Shelton is a certified Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) Instructor and NG360° Nike Golf Performance Specialist with a B.S. in Exercise Science from Grand Canyon University.
In addition to personalized training for individuals of all skill levels, Shelton has worked with Top 100 golf instructor Peter Kostis to develop golf-specific exercises and stretches that increase flexibility and strength, as well as teach proper motor learning to correct swing faults created by the body’s physical limitations. This unique and customized approach has been utilized by numerous professional athletes, including many collegiate, LPGA, and PGA players.