Winter is here. Spring is coming. And along with spring comes golf season. But most of you will be woefully unprepared to start to swing by spring.
Golfers, I ask you….Where has your golf body been all winter? Likely in hibernation along with your golf clubs. Unlike professional golfers that don’t really have an off-season….. amateur golfers do. Winter is their natural off-season, yet most amateur golfers don’t use this to their advantage.
“In order to perform well when you hit the links this spring – you are going to need a plan. If you ask the average golfer what their plan is to improve their golf game over the winter it may involve getting fitted for new clubs or taking a few lessons, but it typically doesn’t include getting their bodies working better.”_Brett Cohen
I think amateur golfers should be using the 2 or 3 days per week they play golf in season – to train their bodies during the off-season. The off-season is the time to work on your physical weaknesses, improve your flexibility, mobility, and balance. And use a progressive resistance training program with an emphasis on addressing your deficits in hip and core strength.
You want to use the off-season to plan ahead so you can enter the golf season confident and injury free.
What Is The #1 Thing Golfers Should You Be Doing In the Off-Season?
First and foremost. I believe every golfer should have a golf fitness assessment. I use the Titleist Performance Institute Level 1 Screen. The screen identifies if you have any physical limitations that can affect your golf swing.
“If I could give just one piece of advice to golfers of all levels, it’s to be physically assessed by a competent professional. A well-trained professional can identify key areas of weakness or imbalance and develop a highly effective exercise or rehabilitation program. It’s no guarantee that you’ll remain injury free, as the golf swing puts incredible forces on the body, but it puts the odds in your favor.” – Dr. Greg Rose, Titleist Performance Institute
What Is A Golf Fitness Assessment and Why Is It So Important?
The main purpose of a fitness assessment is to help identify the possible risk factors for specific injuries common to that sport. For example, in golf, the number one injury complaint is low back pain, followed closely by elbow and then shoulder pain. The reason these injuries are so prevalent is that most amateur golfers are just not physically capable of performing the required body movements that are involved in a mechanically correct golf swing. And when something that is supposed to move doesn’t, something that isn’t supposed to move does. And that’s what leads to irritation, inflammation, swelling, pain, and injury if you ignore it long enough_surgery.
Can You Give Us An Example Of This?
So here’s a common scenario. You’re a male golfer, over age 40. you sit at a desk all day long…you’re hips become stiff, your spine becomes rigid and on the weekend you want to get up and rotate your body at high speeds – 2 or sometimes 3 days in a row. That’s not gonna turn out so well!
Remember, golf is a power sport and a rotational sport. The force it takes to hit a golf ball is equivalent to the force it takes to hit a hockey slap shot, a tennis forehand, or a boxer’s cross. They all require powerful rotational capabilities – which most amateurs simply don’t have. They typically lack mobility in the key areas of the body that need to be mobile in order to rotate effectively.
The Process is Simple
- Lose ankle mobility, get knee pain
- Lose hip mobility, get low back or knee pain
- Lose thoracic mobility, get low back or neck/shoulder pain
What Does The Screen Look For?
All the screens I perform are guided by the above Joint-by-Joint Approach. I’m looking for adequate mobility and stability at certain segments of the body in order to maintain the desired body angles in the golf swing. The assessment allows me to discover a golfer’s imbalances and weaknesses and those are then correlated to common swing characteristics that are undesirable for the golfer. This is known as the Body-Swing Connection.
Once we know what your body can and cannot do in relation to what is desired of a mechanically correct golf swing, I can develop an exercise plan, a program to help you eliminate those restrictions and ultimately turn you into a better athlete, which gives you the potential to become a better golfer.
Once you know what you can and cannot do, then you have a choice to make. Decide to either
1) WORK AROUND IT
2) BREAK THROUGH IT
That Leads Us To The Second Thing You Need To Do – Get In The Gym
“No combination of golf instruction or equipment can overcome a body that doesn’t move well.” __ Nathane Jackson
If your body doesn’t work the way it needs to – to play golf the way you want to….well then change it. In the gym, we are going to address mobility, flexibility, stability, balance, strength, power, and conditioning. Everything you need to perform better on the golf course and in life.
Ultimately your swing is developed AROUND your physical limitations.
“By improving your physical capabilities, we are able to improve your movement as it relates to the golf swing.”_Lance Gill
- 17 of the last 20 Major Championships Were won by players advised by a TPI Certified Expert
- 27 of the Top 30 Players in the World Official World Golf Rankings Are advised by a TPI Certified Expert
- 52 of the last 63 PGA TOUR events Were won by players advised by a TPI Certified Expert
What are you waiting for???
What’s The Third Thing We Need To Do?
This is where your golf instructor comes in. I know not everyone is going to go to the gym. But once you are armed with the information from the screen — you can then take it to your coach and say; “This is what my body is doing and is capable of. How does this apply to my golf swing?” Once a golf pro knows what you can physically perform, it’s much easier to build a swing that best fits your body rather than ask you to do something your body just can’t do. This will help to eliminate a lot of frustration with trial and error.
Note: Even if you improve how your body moves you still need instruction on how to use it. As you know, the movement patterns of golf are quite complicated…having physical ability is one thing, and knowing what to do with it is another.
Removing the physical limitations simply gives you the ability to hit a different shot – but you are going to need to upload some new software and that’s what the golf pro is going to do. Help you to develop new and improved movement patterns as it relates to the golf swing.
The Fourth And Final Step…
Link all this with swing drills and practice. Once you’ve removed the physical limitations and gotten some great instruction on what to do with it – you still need to practice that new movement pattern so it becomes ingrained and natural.
This four-step strategy will get you into golf shape so you can take your game to the next level and dramatically decrease your risk of injury.
How Would You Know If You Need An Assessment?
One of my clients asked this question: “What are the tell-tale characteristics of my swing that would tell me that my problem is not a misunderstanding of how I SHOULD be swinging but rather a physical inability to swing properly for reasons of flexibility or strength? In other words, what tells the golfer with no experience in this that he or she needs help?“
ANSWER: First and foremost. PAIN.. if you have pain before, during, or after playing golf you need to see a medical professional to find out what’s going on. PAIN is simply an indication that something’s not working somewhere else in the body. The site of pain is never the cause of pain (unless we are talking about a trauma-based injury). So once you are out of pain, the screening process will help to find the cause of pain. The problem is typically the joint or segment above or below the site of pain.
Other indicators that you should get a screen are that you are taking lessons, practicing, and just not seeing the results you’d like to see. (changes in swing speed, ball speed, consistency). In other words, you’ve plateaued. And more lessons and practice aren’t going to be the answer.
Also, say you are working on a drill in a lesson and it helps you overcome your swing fault in the lesson but it comes back when you play.. Then it’s not the lesson. it’s your body. So that drill won’t stick until you change how your body can move.. That’s what the screen tells us. How to improve your move.
Lastly, if you’re body aches (anywhere) after a weekend of golf. It’s time to get screened, and get fit for golf.
“Golf instructors are great. They can change your swing but they can’t change your body! The best way to get the most out of you my significant investment in golf lessons is to have a body that can do more….and give my pro more to work with .” _ Ken D.
Brett’s Bottom Line:
Don’t wait until spring to get moving. That’s way to late to wait. Get yourself screened and into the gym right now so that when the spring arrives you’ll have some sting in your swing!
“I specialize in helping golfers improve their game, shoot lower scores, and avoid common injuries associated with playing golf.”_Brett Cohen, TPI Fitness Level 3
To schedule your golf fitness screen and begin your journey to better golf call: (917) 596-8485 to schedule your FREE strategy session.
“Feel The Difference In Your Body, See The Difference In Your Swing”