The end of the golf season is fast approaching, and the days where we get on the course less are, unfortunately, fast approaching too. So let’s discuss the things we can do to make progress during the dark days of the off-season:
I’m sure this will prove slightly controversial but the fact is most injuries in golf are caused through over use, golf is a highly repetitive sport after all. Research has reported these injuries can be caused through poor movement increasing stress on certain joints/areas of the body (more on this in point 2), or simply as a result of the repetitive nature of our sport and the amount of swing’s a golfer is required to make in play and practice. After a long playing schedule in season I recommend reducing the playing and practice time for a month or so, in order to give the body a bit of a break from the wear and tear of the golf swing and to reduce the likelihood of injury.
Admittedly if you live in a rain and/or cold part of the world this will sort of happen naturally anyway, but if you’re lucky enough to golf year round, like most of the tour guys, it’s definitely something I think you should consciously do.
2. Corrective exercises
The reduced volume of golf being played gives us the chance to address the muscle imbalances and movement deficiencies that will likely have built up over the season as a result of the asymmetrical nature of the golf swing or just from daily life in general. As mentioned above, poor movement can mean you are placing increased stress on certain joints/areas of the body and therefore increasing injury risk, but it can also have a detrimental effect on swing mechanics too. For example, tour players have been shown to have hip internal rotation of at least 45 degrees on both sides, not having adequate hip internal rotation will limit your ability to rotate in the golf swing, possibly resulting in sway or slide during the swing. Lack of internal hip rotation has also be associated with with low back pain, especially in golfers, as you will be forced to rotate at the low bak to make up for a lack of rotation in the hips.
Golfers are typically deficient in t-spine extension and rotation, hip rotation, shoulder external rotation and flexion and ankle dorsi-flexion and pronation. But this is just a general list, to be sure what applies to you you should be assessed by a professional, any TPI, FMS or SFMA qualified coach will be able to give you a great movement screen. Once you know your movement deficiencies you can start work on appropriate corrective exercises to resolve them.
Stronger Golf provide online movement assessments, as part of which you will get a report with corrective exercise recommendations, if interested please head over to the online coaching page and fill out the contact form.
3. Locomotion exercises
A locomotion exercise is basically any exercise that involves travelling form one point to another, such as bear crawls or weighted carries. Locomotion exercises are a great way to take the isolated movements you developed through corrective exercises and integrate them in a more dynamic manner, whilst also developing dynamic stabilisation and core control. Favourites of mine include bear crawls, hill sprints, prowler pushes, single-arm carries and lateral lunge walks with overhead reach.
video credit: Eric Cressey
4. Increase exercise variety
“Far away from the fight you can do more that makes you tired/sore and effect your skill training.Closer to the fight you can do LESS that makes you tired/sore and effect your skill training”
Above is quote from Jim Wendler that I absolutely love. Yes it’s about prepping for an MMA fight but the same principle should still be used in preparing for the golf season.
The off-season should begin with more general physical preparation, and as we get closer to the season we shift focus to more sports specific moves. Trading in more sports specific exercises for movement patterns you don’t do as often, and increasing exercise variety, is a great thing to do during the off-season (think back to the point I made earlier about repetitive movement and injury). Variety also provides a richer proprioceptive environment which will carryover to better motor learning, core control, dynamic stabilisation, etc. The gym shouldn’t just be a place to throw heavy weights around, but also a place for skill acquisition.
So if you want to go for a bike ride, do sprinting or kettle bell work for conditioning, learn how to do a Turkish get-up or take up a new sport, the off-season is a great opportunity to do this.
5. Get stronger
Obviously the off-season is a great time to focus on getting stronger. As the quote in the previous point eludes to, you can do a little more volume and not have to worry as much about being to sore to play.
Yes golf is a skill game but you still need a solid basis of strength to be able to apply that skill. The pyramid above is taken from Grey Cook’s Functional Movement Systems material and clearly demonstrates the need for a solid base of both movement ad strength before we move into skill training later on in the off-season cycle.
As people like Jason Glass have commented recently, strength also goes hand in hand with stability in the golf swing. For example, I see a lot of golfers who sway or slide in the swing due to weak or inactive glutes. Strength is a surefire way to a more stable swing, more control and better ball striking. Plus there is always the fun fact of the more force you can produce the further you hit it!
6. Jumps and Throws
Once you have developed your ability to produce force it’s time to consider the other half of the clubhead speed equation – producing force quickly. The need to produce force quickly in the golf swing is pretty obvious when you consider that during the golf swing you must produce around 2,000 lbs of force in less than 0.2 seconds.
Jumps and throws are my absolute favourite way to develop explosive power, they require little or no learning curve for the most part (everybody learnt to jump as a kid!) and are safe and effective. I don’t really care how you do it, just take a light implement or your bodyweight and move it fast!
7. Anti-rotation core exercises
Golfers rotate a lot! We know that rotation can be problematic and increase injury risk for many folks (one of the reasons why I suggest you reduce the volumes of golf swings you make somewhat early in the off-season). We need to be strong and have a quality movement pattern in the rotational plane, with rotation coming from the hips and the t-spine whilst ensuring you maintain neutral lumbar spine alignment. Anti-rotation core work such as pallof presses are a great way to hammer neutral lumbar spine position, whilst stabilising in the rotational plane, laying the foundation for quality rotation and reducing the risk of injury as we build towards the season, and increase the amount of rotation we do.
That’s a few ideas of what I think should be included in a good off-season program. What does your off-season training look like? Let me know in the comments below.