As the PGA tours promotional videos are keen to point out golf is a sport, and golfers are athletes…and to be honest there can be little arguing with that these days. Indeed, research has shown physical limitations have a negative effect on kinematic sequence of the golf swing, swing mechanics and ultimately ball speed and ball striking. Whilst increasing a wide range of strength and power measures have been demonstrated to increase club head speed by numerous academic studies. If you were in any doubt fitness for golf is a big deal, but what fitness qualities do you need to build to turn your body into a golfing machine? Here’s my list of the top 10:
1. Balance between the chest and upper back muscles for neutral spine at address.
2. Neutral pelvic tilt to allow neutral posture, most people live in anterior pelvic tilt from sitting from sitting at a desk and exhibit s-posture in the golf swing. Achieved by glute activation and flexibility in the hips flexors.
3. Adequate range of motion in the thoracic spine and lats to allow for a good shoulder turn.
4. The ability to disassociate the upper body from the lower body. This known by coaches as the x-factor and is vital for power generation.
5. A good degree of rotational movement in the shoulders, especially external rotation. As lack of shoulder rotation can lead to many swing faults including flying elbow, chicken winging and reverse tilt, is also a common cause of elbow and shoulder injuries.
6. Adequate lower body strength and stability to avoid excessive lateral and forward movement of the hips. Concentric strength in the target side leg is especially important in allowing the golfer to ‘post’ the target side leg in the downswing and to decelerate the club after impact.
7. Adequate internal hip rotation to allow hips to function correctly in the swing.
8. Forearm strength and balance to prevent elbow and wrist injuries, and for when playing out of difficult lies.
9. Good proprioception and co-ordination. In this context, we are looking for the ability to be aware of where the body is in space and how to manipulate this. This can be trained in the gym with drills or by simply playing sports and challenging your body with new activities.
10. Muscular endurance to ward off fatigue during competition and practice. Fatigue will negatively impact swing mechanics and increase the risk of injury. Prevent faltering scores on the back 9 and be able to practice longer by increasing muscular endurance.