Tag Archives: Speed

Does overspeed training increase my swing speed? What the research says

The idea that swinging an underweight club or bat, throwing an underweight ball or sprinting with reduced resistance, meaning you can therefore swing, throw or run faster, therefore leading to an increase in swing speed, has been around a while now. However the idea seems to have become really popular  in golf of late with SuperSpeed Golf leading the way.

reactive-stretch-cord-overspeed-accelerator

 Theory behind Overspeed Training

Overspeed training in general, affects the speed of the neuromuscular reaction that happens when the brain runs a motor pattern i.e. the golf swing. It’s well established in exercise science that there is a continuum of motor units and their associated muscle fibers based on various physiological factors (not just simply fast vs slow, but every option between), with the largest motor units typically being the most forceful and having the fastest contraction speed. Overspeed training is believed to improve velocity of movement by recruiting the fastest specific motor units used in a particular action. Put another way, the body has a “typical” response to any motor pattern that does not usually equate to its potential for efficiency and speed. When the body runs the motor pattern with a lighter implement (one that is lighter than the usual implement, but not too light as to cause the activation of a completely different motor pattern), the neuromuscular response to this motor pattern can happen significantly faster.  In a short number of reps, the body will develop a ‘memory’ of this new and increased speed of the neuromuscular response.  Essentially, we have tricked the body into resetting the typical speed of the motor pattern.

 The need for specificity

As you may have picked up from the above overspeed relies on the idea of specificity, meaning that the training must closely resemble the specific athletic action in order to lead to transferrable results. Take a look at the demo video below and notice that all the drills closely resemble the golf swing. For general training I’m not a fan exercises mimicking the golf swing as these exercises can’t be loaded progressively to drive strength improvement, however with overspeed training we are not after progressive overload by resistance but by velocity and specificity is paramount.

This also leads to the need idea of keeping the weights within about 12% is considered crucial (This value has been determined by the few studies done with baseball swings and throws, where they determined too great of a deviation from the standard weight actually led to velocity decrements rather than improvement). The thought is that more or less than that will lead to the training not translating to actual improved velocity in the action.

Single set response

Much like PAP training in the weight room, this effect if only occurs on a single use basis will fade gradually over about 20 minutes to an hour.  According to SuperSpeed, they have found that there must be a gradual increase in load during the training, in order to make this increase in response speed permanent (the reason for our 10% light and 5% heavy clubs in the set).  This load cycle repeated many times during the individual training session continues to alter the neuromuscular response speed in the body. SuperSpeed claim that with about 4-6 weeks of regular practice, we find that the player’s initial speed increase will become permanent, essentially representing a reprogramming of the ‘typical’ speed of the neuromuscular response to the motor pattern.

Effect on swing mechanics

According to SuperSpeed, their research on the effect on the biomechanics/ kinetic chain of the golf swing, have found significant increase in especially pelvic rotational speed in many players.  This directly results in more speed in the distal segments beyond the pelvis as well.  The more energy that is transferred in the first link of the chain multiplies greatly as the players gets to impact.  They posit that there are a few reasons for this increase: Improved Stability resulting directly from increased muscle activation from the non-dominant swings.  This allows for a stronger load and unload cycle in the lower body.  Increased Downswing Loading as a result of the step-change of direction swings, and general attempt by the player to get the club moving faster.  We find that not having the goal to hit the golf ball allows the player to “discover” the necessary sequencing elements of ground force interaction and lag. This can also lead to players seeing a significant improved in casting and early release in the golf swing.

What the research says

Currently there is no quality research with golf (although SuperSpeed tell me they currently have some underway, and rest assured we will bring you the result as soon as we have them), we must instead take what we have and see what results they’ve gotten. The idea of overspeed training originated in sprinting so there is a fair amount of research on how it affects sprint speed, however there probably isn’t too much carryover to golf. Baseball is the closest activity to golf that has been studied to any real extent and there are a few reasons the results from studies in baseball may apply well to golf:

  • Rotational sports have quite a bit in common, as they sometimes use similar musculature and often rely on the same kinetic chain pattern of muscle activation.
  • Baseball swings and throws rely on the same sequence as golf; generating force from the ground by the big muscles in the hips, glutes, and quads and transferring the force through a stable core into the upper body musculature and eventually out to the extremities to the ball.

Effects on Baseball bat velocity:

Sergo & Boatwright (1993)

Studied 24 collegiate baseball players and split them into three groups based on the bats they would use for practice swings. One group was a control and used a standard legal bat, one group used a heavier bat, and the final group used an underweight bat (overspeed).
They would end up swinging a bat 100 times a day, 3 times per week, for 6 weeks (1800 total swings) and found that all three groups had similar increases in bat velocity (about 8%). Concluded any bat swung that many times will increase velocity, with overspeed or overload having no additional benefit

DeRenne et al. (1995)

Incorporated the use of all three weights of bats seen above into a combined methods training, each individual would take 50 swings with a heavy bat, 50 with a light bat, then 50 with a standard. One group only performed practice swings (dry swings), another took these 150 swings during batting practice, and the final was the control who only used a standard bat. The addition of overspeed and overload in the dry swing and batting practice groups led to significant increases compared to baseline and the control (6-10% average increase). The biggest increases were with the batting practice group (10%) which might have to do with trying to impart maximal force on a ball in a sport specific manner rather than just practice swings with no ball involved

Effects of weighted balls on throwing velocity in baseball:

DeRenne, Ho, & Blitzblau. (1990)

Tested baseball pitchers on throwing velocity after training with underweight and overweight baseballs. Found significant increases when using a ball that was 20% heavier as well as 20% lighter in addition to regular practice with a standard ball.

Effects on swing mechanics and accuracy:

As you can imagine with research in this area being fairly new there wasn’t a lot to go on. One study on bowling in cricket (Petersen, Wilson, & Hopkins. 2004) that found decreased accuracy using underweight and overweight methods, but these decrements were nearly totally wiped out if they had properly matched their intervention and control groups for baseline velocities and skill.

The contention currently seems to be that if using a relatively small deviation from the standard weight, we probably will not see much loss in accuracy, if any at all, but I would like to see that incorporated into future studies just to be sure. In my opinion (and this is only my opinion) it is also certainly possible that it could have some benefits to sequencing as step drills and swings with the club held at the club head end have been used effectively by coaches to teach better release mechanics for a long time.

Conclusion (a.ka. the bit you skipped to anyway)

Baseball has shown an amount of support for the combination of specific overspeed and overload training in a sport that also relies on rotational power. Many golf specific results also report increased clubhead speed immediately after a training session with overspeed, which is going to happen due to maximal activation of the nervous system as well as loosening up the musculature specific to the golf swing. However as of yet, there has been no scientific evidence of long-term retention using overspeed-training devices in golfers, other than the case studies and testimonials of various golfers who are advertising for companies such as SuperSpeed Golf. Additionally no research exist to support it’s use to improve swing mechanics.

This is not to say definitely it doesn’t or doesn’t have a longer term effect simply that the research doesn’t exist to give a definitive answer yet. But we can say that it will have a short term affect for definite and the theory is grounded in well-established exercise science principles.

Finally, a few authors suggest that overspeed and overload training works more efficiently with those who have a pretty solid base of fitness and strength, meaning resistance training and other training methods could be more beneficial for the weaker athletes, at least at first. This would make sense, as it fits with the general thought process of power training for sports. So it maybe for optimal results the best idea is to combine overspeed training with resistance training and periodise both based on your needs and competitive season. Incidentally, I am a huge fan of opposite swings to develop speed and deceleration ability for golfers so this also needs to be built in to any overspeed training protocol in my opinion (SuperSpeed Golf protocols do a great job of this actually)

Hopefully this article has given you some background info on overspeed training and shown you some of the potential gains. If you’d like to add overspeed training to compliment your golf fitness training do take a look at SwingSpeed Golf as they’re making waves in the industry and more importantly are great people. Also if you do purchase be sure to use the code “strongergolf” at check out, that way you get a little discount and I get some money come way too so I can continue to write free articles for you guys. Win win!

This article was co-authored by myself and Alex Ehlert, Alex is former NCAA Division 1 Golfer who was able to gain 20 yards by becoming stronger and more athletic. He is now a Masters Student in Exercise Physiology and writes about optimising golf fitness using an evidence-based approach at his blogwww.golfathlete.blogspot.co.uk and can be contacted via twitter. Information for it was also kindly provided by SuperSpeed Golf.

 

What golf-specific training really is

In the simplest possible terms specificity means that if you wish to develop a certain aspect of training then you emphasise that aspect in your training programme. The training of a squash player, for example, will therefore look quite different from someone who is training for the London Marathon.

Athletes who compete in relatively specific directions and actions without the elements of contact and chaos, they can benefit from training with a high degree of specificity to their goal activities (although the athlete should be sure to train in both directions).

This obviously applies to golfers, but what actually is specificity in golf training?

Golf-specific training doesn’t mean the exercise has to look ‘golfish’ or mimic swing.

The overhead squat pattern, for example, isn’t seen in the golf swing. However, it is a highly popular screen for golfers and much has been written about its importance to a properly executed golf swing. As Grey Cook explains here, we know hip rotation is typically important to properly executing the golf swing, that same level of hip rotation is required to squat deep. Additionally the overhead squat requires us to maintain t-spine extension (vital for good posture and rotation in the swing) whilst activating the core (essential for the transfer of power up the kinetic chain in the golf swing). A movement pattern doesn’t have be seen in the sport to carryover to that sport. 

As Mel Siff writes in his book Supertraining:

“To fulfil the criteria of correspondence with respect to the amplitude and direction of movement, it is advisable to select the exact starting position and posture of the athlete, as well as to calculate the direction of action of the forces associated with the working links of the system and the additional load. The line of action of the applied external resistance and of the loaded movement as a whole must also be taken into account.

For example, in middle-distance running, skiing and skating, a knapsack full of sand or a weight belt are sometimes used as resistance. However, the muscles which bear the load are those which resist the weight of the body. This can increase the ability to cope with vertical loading and develop general strength-endurance, but does not strengthen those muscles which propel the body horizontally.

Similarly, a skater may execute jumps on one leg on the floor or from a bench. These exercises strengthen the leg muscles supporting the body and the static-endurance of the back muscles, but do not fully imitate the working of the muscles for the push-off, where the force is directed backward.”

The golf swing is largely dependent on rotational and lateral movement to develop power, although there are also elements of vertical and horizontal power to varying degrees – There is a hip extension moment as we approach the ball in the downswing, this means for most the pelvis we be closer to the ball on striking than at posture, from this we can assume a horizontal displacement of force as occurred. Similarly, many players (Bubba Watson being a great example, whom I talked about in more detail in this article) display a pronounced dip to begin their downswing and then explode upwards as the come towards impact, this demonstrates a more vertical force displacement – To me this suggests there is merit to developing force production abilities in all directions for golfers although it would be pertinent to move to more lateral and rotational measures as we move towards the start of a competitive season say. Interestingly, as some players utilise more lateral means of generating power, whilst others use more rational and horizontal, and some more vertical (anyone who has been put through a BioSwing screen you will know you are grouped into a ‘power package’ based on the directions of movement you typically use to develop power in the swing), an argument could be made that different exercises represent truly specific to different golfers.

Siff then explains how sport typically involves simultaneous coordinated tension of muscle groups, such as the simultaneous flexion and extension at the two hip joints in running, where the angular movement of one leg enhances the push-off movement of the other.

For the golf swing this most easily equates to disassociation of the upper and lower body

By this measure something like a sled push can be seen as fairly golf specific, featuring an element of hip extension to produce horizontal force, disassociation of the upper and lower body (the legs move whilst upper body remains stable), summation of forces proximally to distally (from the ground to the arms, through the core), whilst the position taken up to push fairly accurately mimics the golf posture.

Let us also consider speed and intensity for a moment as I believe this to be one the biggest failings in the weighted swings, cable machine or dumbbell swings and bosu/stability ball swings that might traditionally be considered golf-specific:

Training should be speed, time constraint and intensity specific, not just movement specific.

If we consider training as a continuum from maximal strength modalities (a 1RM deadlift for example) at one end and pure speed (sprinting) at the other. As the golf swing is an incredibly fast movement and the external resistance utilised (the club) is relatively light, golf will clearly sit pretty close to the pure speed end of the continuum. As such specific training should focus on low intensities (intensity being defined as percentage of 1RM) and high speed movements, occurring within a similar time frame to the golf swing.

11v16bd

An obvious example would be something like a split-stance rotational scoop toss. Much like the sled push this also features disassociation of the upper and lower body and summation of forces proximally to distally, whilst the position taken up to push fairly accurately mimics golf posture.

Specificity in energy systems training

If we consider the energy system demands of golf in more detail; we must walk (admittedly across sometimes substantially undulating terrain) for sometimes upto 5 hours (depending on the pace of play at your course, but the seemingly endless slowing down of play on the PGA tour is a topic for another day and another blog). Walking is relatively low intensity activity that utilises the aerobic energy system, so we must develop the capacity to operate at low intensity for a long period of time. The golf swing itself is obviously a high power output movement occurring very quickly, this utilises the ATP-PC energy system. This only provides energy to the muscles for a very short portion of time, but at a very high power output, it requires short intervals and long rest periods to train effectively. This is a somewhat controversial topic but my suggestions would be to make sure to train your steady state cardio at a very slow place for long duration, to me walking and playing golf itself are the best bets here, and to keep your interval training to short powerful bursts of 10 seconds or so with relatively long rest periods of even a minute or above, depending on your fitness level.

A note on when specificity is appropriate

For professional/competitive golfers, we must understand that the competitive golf season is a long one, whilst amateurs (and quite a few pros!), typically don’t have a lot of exposure to physical preparation for golf. Therefore, it is safe to say that most golfers live executing movements on the furthest end of the general-to-specific continuum. Therefore, the greatest training affect according to the law of diminishing returns and largest portion of their workload should be dedicated to work that falls on the other (general) end of that continuum. This is most easily identified as standard maximal strength training type modalities.

To put it another way ‘golf-specific’ strengthening exercises are not appropriate or necessary when generally weak. It’s much more valuable to become strong overall, and only then pursue golf-specific strength. Staying injury free should be the goal of any training program first and foremost. The ability to absorb the forces generated in the golf swing, for instance, is important in staying injury free and generally associated with eccentric strength.

7 must do’s for the off-season

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:

1.Rest

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.

FMS-Performance-Pyramid

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.

3 ways to increase force production in the golf swing – strength, speed and stability

While strength alone isn’t enough, strength is probably the first factor you should focus on to improve velocity. To develop more power, you need to be stronger. Put plainly, the more force you can exert, the further you’ll hit it.

Studies demonstrate, lower body strengthening is an area that deserves a lot of attention. The legs are are essential in creating ground reaction force and the first stage in transferring that force from the ground through the body and into the club.

Take a look at pro’s these days. A lot of the guys that have big legs, hips, and butts are some of the longest hitters, and the ones who look like they do it most effortlessly. Jason Day is a great example:

Jason Day a.ka. Quadzilla

Jason Day a.ka. Quadzilla

The stronger your legs, the more force you can generate. This has been shown in numerous studies to correlate to velocity in all most all rotational sports including golf.

Whilst a base of strength is incredibly important and something I see many golfers still overlook, strength alone is not enough and could even be detrimental. Research in the strength and conditioning world has shown that training certain qualities, like strength and speed, results in velocity specific adaptations to the body.

Better stated – train slow and you’ll swing slow.

Once a baseline of strength is established, I tend to focus on evolving the ability to ‘explode’. What I mean by this is you want to move with intent – fast, quick and crisp. This is area many golfers are lacking, they don’t know how to explode.

Once an athlete understands how to move a heavy weight slowly, you want to transition to moving a moderate weight fast, and a lighter weight even faster.

Speed trap bar deadlifts against bands (the band tension makes it harder at the top so momentum means the faster you pull the easier it is) are probably my very favourite exercise at the moving moderate weight fast end of the spectrum. Exercises like plyometric jumps, med-ball throws and kettle bell swings are effective for the lighter weight even faster part.

On the golf training side of the equation, this is where underweight clubs, hand speed drills and simply practicing swinging faster come in to play.

Lastly, and probably the least well implemented, is training for stability. To improve clubhead velocity, you need the proper motor control and dynamic stability to stabilize both the arms, the core and the legs.

To properly transfer force that is developed from the ground, you need a strong AND stable legs.

You need front leg stability to efficiently transfer force in the downswing, also don’t forget the body has internal regulations to avoid injury. If the lead leg can’t stabilize the force, the theory goes, your body won’t allow you to develop maximum force in order to protect you from potential injury.

Incidentally, this is one of the reasons why I believe using weighted clubs is ineffective and can be harmful, especially for young golfers. You need the strength to be able to withstand the force to produce the force, your body will down-regulate force development to prevent injury otherwise.

To maximize velocity, you need to train the body to develop and withstand force. Too many programs focus on developing force alone. This can result in ineffective training programs as well as injury by pushing past your physiological limits. Whilst we use a lot of exercises to help develop force, we also use exercises such as reactive lateral jumps and lateral jumps with external rotation stick, which have a high deceleration component too.

Video credit: Eric Cressey

To recap; get strong so you can create more force, learn how to ‘explode’ and generate that force quickly, and develop stability so you can control and decelerate that force. Next, sit back and watch how far into the distance your drives now go flying!

You’re doing box jumps all wrong!

For golfers (actually all sports other than powerlifting) it doesnt matter how strong you are if you can’t produce that force quickly. The need for speed is real people!

Jumps are an awesome training method to develop speed, power, athleticism and relative strength, qualities directly applicable to nearly every sport. However, box jumps are often over-prescribed, programmed poorly and executed by your average gym goer in such a manner as to make my eyes bleed.

Most of the box jump videos you see on youtube look cool but aren’t really all they are cracked up to be. That 50 inch box jump is a product of a decent jump and fantastic hip mobility, rather than pure explosive power. Even worst with these inflated jump heights people set themselves up for bloody shins and poor landing mechanics, not mention dangerous and embarassing youtube fail videos.

Box jumps for conditioning

Box jumps done for conditioning purposes are becoming increasingly popular, but this fitness trend isn’t a change for the positive in my opinion, let me explain why… Form breaks down as we tire, however form erosion in some exercises is worst than others, high power output, technically demanding ones in particular. Jumps used as a conditioning tool causes a breakdown of proper landing mechanics like pronation of the feet, valgus collapse of the knee and force not being properly absorbed (heavy landings) leaving the door open for injury or accident. In addition jumping for high reps will often minimise hip extension. And that ain’t good as full hip extension is the primary driver of explosive power in the lower body.

Keep box jumps early in the workout, after a warm-up and before lifting. High volume isn’t important, high performance is. 2-4 sets of 3-5 reps is my recommendation.

Box Jumps for ‘general fitness’population

Most general fitness folks rarely exercise and aren’t conditioned for high force, high impact exercises. Sedentary desk jobs, low impact steady state cardio and machine exercises are the norm. If they do start box jumps it is often to too high a box or with too quick a progression and the same faulty landing mechanics mentioned above become ingrained.

Work upto box jumps with low impact movements like skips. Then start at a low box height and master landing mechanics before progressing to greater heights

Landing mechanics 101

– Feet land flat on the box with no pronation or supination at the ankle

– Knees neutral rather than pointed in or out

– Abs braced. Any rounding of the trunk shows a power leak somewhere in the kinetic chain

– Land with chest and eyes pointing forward not down

– I don’t have any athlete land on a box with a knee angle lower than a quarter squat

– Absorb force on landing. Land quietly and demonstrate control on top of box

box_jump_stronger_golf

concentrate on achieving full extension when you jump not jamming your knees into your throat so as to make the box height

Sample Progression

Here is a simple progression for those new to box jumps that will take you from crazy fool to box jump pro (and avoid any embarrassing fail videos too). Perform twice per week.

Week 1 – B-skips 3x20yards

Week 2 – B-skips 4x20yards

Week 3 – 2×5

Week 4 – 3×4

Week 5 – 4×4

Week 6 – 3×5 (increase box height)

Week 7 – 4×4

Week 8 – 4×3

Week 9 – 3×3 (increase box height)

Box Jump variations

There are numerous jump variations that can be used to tax different areas of jumping ability. Lateral jumps and 90 degree box jumps are some of my favourites, especially for golfers as they move the athlete into more lateral and rotational planes of movement (Shout out to TPI for making the great video tutorial of 90 degree box jumps featured below)

 

bubba-watson-impact

Bubba’s swing keys to long drives.

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Bubba Watson has become one the most popular players on the PGA tour thanks to his success on the course, easy going demeanour, shot making savvy and not least those crushing drives!

But whats his secret to all that raw power in his homemade looking golf swing? Why is he out driving many of his fellow tour players who often exhibit more ‘classically’ correct golf swings? And what can you learn to apply to your swing?

To shed some light I’d like to take a detour into the world of long drive. The first notable difference between long drive competitors and tour pros is you’ll be hard pressed to find a long drive guy that keeps his lead foot on the floor.

The second thing easily noticeable, is a very high hand position and a backswing much longer than the average PGA tour player, this allows for greater speed to be generated in the trunk on the downswing.

Check out these youtube videos of Bubba hitting some drives in slow motion, notice these traits of the long drive competitors in Bubba’s swing too. I put two videos in because, well, it’s just fun to watch Bubba bombing drives!

There are other things, as well, that you might not notice first time round. Watch how Bubba squats down as he begins his downswing and then literally jumps back up through impact. This is known as vertical thrust, and is a trait shared with Jason Zuback and many other long drives champs. The squatting motion at the start of the downswing increases ground reaction force, this leads to more energy coming back through the lower body and transferring up the body to the club. This is then followed by literally a vertical jump as he comes through impact (if you look closely you can actually see both his feet are off the floor)!

Indeed, putting long drive competitors on a force plate often yields blackout though impact. This basically means they are not contacting the ground and the force plate just goes blank because there’s nobody on it anymore.

So how does hitting huge drives actually work? And how can you do it? 

3-D motion capture of the golf swing shows energy starts from the lower body, the lower body starts to create incredible rotary speed as the downswing is initiated (the lower body rotates the equivalent of up to 500 degrees per second at this point). That energy is then transferred to the trunk, as the trunk rotates (rotary speed is now hitting almost 900 degrees per second) it then transfers energy to the arms, the arms then transfer energy to the club (at clubhead speeds in excess of 140mph) and the club then transfers energy into the ball on impact. It is a perfect sequence seen in every long driver and results in ball speeds approaching 220mph.

The average tour players arm rotates around 900 degrees per second. On a longer driver the arms may rotate almost 1300 degrees per second. Almost 50% more energy can be generated from the thorax to the arm. This is an incredible difference that yields explosive distance.

Simply, the longest drivers can rotate their body faster than those who don’t hit as far. This is made possible by a perfect synergy of technique, strength and rotational speed.

Switch hitting for golf?

Well maybe not when your hard earned money, beer or bragging rights are on the line against your buddies! But on the practice tee and in the gym adding in some switch hitting could unlock a more powerful golf swing and give you more distance.

Anecdotal evidence points to a strong correlation between the longest hitters in the world and a history of speed training in the opposite direction. In other words, if they were a right-handed golfer, they train for speed left-handed. Many high level golfers compete or practice explosive speed in the opposite direction. From playing hockey left-handed, to pitching left-handed, to switch hitting in baseball, to running backwards, it doesn’t seem to matter. What matters most is the development of speed in the opposite direction.

The theory is that your body will only accelerate to the point of which your body knows you can safely decelerate (makes perfect sense, from an injury prevention standpoint). Therefore, the stronger and faster your decelerators are, the faster you can develop your accelerators. There is also the argument that training the opposite side of the body helps maintain symmetry and mobility, which is beneficial regardless of what direction you are swinging.

Opposite side training can be incorporated into training and practice by making sure to complete medicine ball and long toss drills in the gym with both sides of the body. Same side medicine ball and long toss drills without letting go, or practicing baseball type swings from both sides with a ball teed up around waist height, can also add to the training effect on your decelerators. Adding opposite side swings can be used as a great warm up tool. Even adding backwards, and side to side, sprints (to both sides of course) to your explosive power or conditioning workout arsenal will work.

Give it a try and let me know how you get on, it might just see you blasting it past your playing partners and winning that beer more often!

Following on from the how to write a golf strength and conditioning program post yesterday, here is a quick program outline that lays out for you lucky people everything you need to become a better athlete and a better golfer!

Golf_S&C_program

A note on progression here; I have selected box jumps as they are the simplest of reactive jumps, you should change to more complicated jumps such as depth jumps as you progress. Med ball work should be done with light med balls, the aim is speed not moving heavy weight. Upper body plyometrics, such as push ups, can also be used. For the the weighted exercises its pretty simple…once you’ve hit your 3 sets of 5 reps with a weight add slightly more weight to the bar.