Flexibility is vital to achieve and maintain a fluid and consistent golf swing. It allows the golfer to maintain tempo while minimizing stress on the muscles and joints utilized in the swing.
Given the rotation requirements of the golf swing, the leg must be able to rotate inward (i.e. internal hip rotation) at least 30 degrees. However, a great number of golfers do not have the flexibility to achieve the minimum range required for golf. This will place stress on the hip joint and the muscles crossing the hip, specifically the inner thigh muscles.
The inner thigh muscles may become strained when performing the golf swing and tighten as a result. These tight muscles will restrict the inward rotation of the hip. The lead side hip will be affected to a greater degree based on the force and range of movement of the follow-through although both hips tend to become problematic.This strain-tighten cycle continues over time in the development of a golfer’s game, reducing a golfers flexibility and compromising tempo, consistency and power.
In general, a golfer’s muscle tightness most commonly results from strain. It is the muscles adaptive response to the injury to protect itself from further trauma. In addition, strain can further cause weakness in the muscle which thereby tightens the muscle even more.
The foam roller is an excellent tool available to golfers to effectively address muscle tightness and injury. A foam roller is used for self-myofascial release to reduce tightness and break down scar tissue developed from micro-trauma in the muscle tissue. This will restore function to the muscle and improve the ability of the muscle to elongate. Ultimately, flexibility will improve.
To achieve the best results when rolling, proper body position and technique must be utilized. Position the roller perpendicular to the muscle. Imagine a line down the centre of the muscle and divide the line into 1-4 inch segments. Roll in a steady back and forth motion for 5-10 seconds per segment. Keep in mind that the shorter the segment rolled the deeper the release. Roll to tolerance; the myofascial release should be uncomfortable but not painful.
Two key muscles for golfers to roll are the glutes and inner thigh. To view pictures of these exercises, visit: www.rollrelease.com/exercises/exercises/exercises.html
Proper Neutral Grip
Are you constantly pushing the ball to the right and don't know why?
Are you trying to stay more and more relaxed when you swing?
We have all been told in the past that we need to "relax" and stop gripping the club so tightly. This is very true however, we do need a certain amount of grip pressure to maintain control of the club. Recently I have started to see an increasing number of mainly female golfers, that have been missing shots weak and to the right. When you are missing weak to the right the first thing you want to check is your grip.
1. Weak Left Hand Grip - Be sure that the club is in the fingers of the left hand and that you can see 2 - 3 knuckles when you look down at your grip (picture above of the proper neutral grip). Often too many women grip the club in the palm which is a "weak" left hand position (see weak grip picture) as this causes the club face to come into impact open.
Left hand letting go of the club
2. Letting Go of the Club (TOO RELAXED) - If you have a good neutral grip and you are are still pushing the ball to the right you may be letting go of the club at the top of your backswing. Often when we try and relax, we let our hands go too loose at the top of the backswing and actually loose control of the club. When you grip the club with your left (lead) hand ensure first that you have a neutral to strong grip, second ensure that you grip with the last 3 fingers of the left hand securely and feel the grip be maintained to the top of the backswing. If you have difficulty keeping your left hand on the club you may also consider your grip size and your lead wrist mobility.
To ensure you have the proper grip and that you are not letting go of the club in your swing seek the advise of a qualified professional.
Have fun and keep swinging!
We have all heard that power in the golf swing comes from our lower body. Most golfers however, lose this ability as soon as they set up. In order to be able to use your lower body effectively you need to be able to set yourself up in the most athletic posture you can. The basis for this athletic posture is the hip hinge.
The hip hinge and low back tension
Creating a proper hip hinge can help alleviate tension and stress in the lower back and improve hip function immediately. By creating a hip hinge, you allow the biggest muscles in the body, the glutes, to become more active. This will help you create a very stable athletic stance while relieving tension in you lower back.
For those of you that feel tension in the lower back when setting up. it may be that you are actually creating movement through your lower back instead of your hips in your posture. It is commonly said that you need to "stick your butt out" while getting into your posture. As instructors we need to be careful with this saying. In a proper hip hinge your hips and butt shift back with little to no back movement. If you try and stick you butt up in the air, this causes an extension in the lower back which causes the muscles running along the spine to tense up and become sore.
Hip Hinge Drill
Dowel hip hinge drill
When you hip hinge your lower back will become relatively flat and you will feel little to no back movement. Use a club along the back to help you feel proper hip hinging. If you feel tension in your lower back pelvic tilt and engage the stomach to bring the lower back to a neutral position and the tension will alleviate.
Golfer's need two things to create a powerful, efficient and pain free golf swing:
For example if there is a limitation in the thoracic spine, to create a backswing you may:
Understanding your own body / swing connection
If you are struggling with your golf swing or you have suffered from golf related injuries, gaining and understanding of how your body moves is extremely important. The first step to understanding you body / swing connection is to go through a Golf Specific Movement Screen. From this screen you will gain an understanding of your physical abilities and how this could be affecting your swing. To inquire about a Golf Specific Movement Screen today click here.
I was a late starter into the game of golf, at the of 17, but when I experienced the complexity of the swing and the challenge of the game I was determined to "master" it, well at least try. I practiced and played as much as daylight would allow in my small town of Westport, Ontario. Although I progressed quickly with the game, my mastery of the sport was not coming as quickly as I had hoped being naive to the true complexity of the sport. To fast track my learning curve I decided to find a swing coach and start taking some lessons. From that time was I 18 until I turned professional I had worked with 6 different swing coaches with many different golf swing theories. All of the coaches were great at getting me into the technical positions that I needed to be in however, none of them asked me what my concepts of the swing were. If they had asked, they would have realized that I had few of the most common misconceptions about the golf swing.
Misconception #1 : the ball is scooped of the ground with the club sliding underneath the ball. This incorrect swing concept can cause:
Correct concept: The golfer should swing "through" the ball. This concept was described brilliantly, although graphically, by John Zumerchik author of Newton on the Tee. He equates hitting through the golf ball to a boxer wanting to punch through his target. The boxer would concentrate on a fictitious point within the target so that his punches terminate several inches inside the mark and not on the surface. In golf, think of hitting the grass just infront of the ball instead of the ball. This is how professional golfers take divots, they hit through the ball and then into the ground. In the below photos, notice in the first photo that the club has past the hands, in the second picture there is straight line through the club into the left arms.
As a Golf Performance Specialist, I asses body movement and swing mechanics for a living. When I watch Suzann Pettersen she exemplifies the modern female golf athlete. Suzann Pettersen is one of the LPGA's most dominate players. In the 2011 season she has posted 8 top 10's out of 15 starts on the tour with two victories and earning over 1.1 million dollars. Her swing includes a perfect harmony of balance, stability, mobility and power which makes it look effortless and smooth. Along with her incredible athleticism she exudes confidence, competitiveness and mental toughness. For anyone look to observe a truly ATHLETIC movement please watch the video below.
DM Golf Performance is proud to begin a new golf performance workshop series. Each workshop will focus on one phase of the golf swing and will include technical instruction of each phase and the exercises that are needed to maximize performance in that phase. The workshops will include:
1. Golf posture and Conditioning
2. Create the Coil - Creating your perfect backswing
3. Sequence the downswing - Creating efficiency and effortless power
4. Follow through with balance - Creating balance and rhythm in your swing.
To read more about each workshop please see Golf Performance Workshops under the heading "Services".
It seems that there has finally been a significant shift in the how golf is now perceived in the world of sport. Once thought of as non-athletic, game instead of an athletic sport, golf is finally starting to get the respect it deserves in the sport world. The golf swing with one of the most complex, dynamic and coordinated athletic movements that sport has seen. To achieve this swing there needs to be a combination of optimal mobility, stability,balance, strength and power. Not to mention the ability of the mind to allow these physical elements to create a coordinated harmony of movement.
In this blog, I will discuss a variety of topics that can influence golf performance. I encourage golf enthusiasts to comment and discuss these topics with me so that we continue to feed the shift towards a "golf athlete" movement.