I’ve never meet anyone who doesn’t want to hit it further. Hitting it further means generating more swing speed, so as golfers we hit the gym and train for speed with great exercises like rotational med-ball throws and lateral jumps, makes sense right?
Indeed, research has shown vertical jumps and med-ball throws correlate with increased swing speed. They also look pretty damn cool, and not much feels better than crushing step-behind shot-put throws against a poor unsuspecting wall!
However these exercises are high force output, high neural demand and can even do more harm than good, creating inefficient/ faulty movement patterns, if your body isn’t physically prepared to achieve what needs to be achieved. Here’s a quick checklist of what you are going to need to be able to do if your going to make the most out of these exercises:
- Lumbo-pelvic control
- Ability to stabilise the core whilst the limbs move
- Good rotational mechanics
- Hip stability
- Sufficient eccentric strength
So how do you going about developing these qualities?
As luck would have it, after a bit of thought and experimentation I’ve got it down to just three exercises that pretty much cover the lot. Get good at these exercises below and earn the right to progress.
No 1. Dead-bug and bird-dog variations
These are obviously great exercises to strengthen the core, but more importantly in this context, they also teach you to control stable lumbo-pelvic position in a more static manner as means of preparing you for the more dynamic setting of speed and power work and to stabilise the core whilst the limbs move.
Note that our aim here is to develop core stability and jumbo-pelvic control, not to increase range of motion. Keep that core squeezed tight throughout and your lower back MUST remain neutral (don’t let it arch of the floor in the dead-bug and you can use a broomstick placed on the back to check when doing the head-bug), don’t go chasing range of motion at the expense of control.
No 2. Anti-rotation split-stance scoop toss
This is a great exercise to teach proper rotational mechanics, the split-stance puts the lumbar spine in a somewhat ‘locked’ position meaning you must learn to rotate from the thoracic spine (upper back). The split stance has another great affect of narrowing the base of support and therefore enhancing the stability requirements and giving a great feeling of turning into a firm front side hip. As with all rotational type exercises be sure to work both sides, not just the side you work in the golf swing.
No. 3 Split-squat
Again the split stance narrows the base of support and gives us good stabilisation demands. The single-leg squat amplifies this as we must stabilise the knee in a frontal plane whilst moving through a large sagittal plane range of motion. Single-leg squats also provide a pretty decent eccentric load as the working leg must control the weight as you descend. This eccentric strength is vital to good landing mechanics, force absorption, deceleration ability, and ultimately staying injury free when you move onto jump work. Indeed, if when doing plyometrics, your landings are heavy (good landings should be quiet!) your knees cave in or you even get knee pain, insufficient eccentric strength is the probable cause.
I really like varying these up with lateral squats and sideboard lunges prior to introducing speed work too. This ensures we develop these qualities in multiple planes and the slideboard does a great job of further increasing that eccentric load.
So, stop rushing into speed and power exercises.
Slow down and build your base first.
Earn the right to progress by owning these exercises first. You’ll get much more out of the speed and power work when you do progress to it!
Lastly, I’m putting together an entire e-book including when golf specific training is appropriate, what you need to have in place first and what golf specific training should actually look like. It’s going to be free too! Keep your eyes peeled for it’s arrival!