July 25 2013
By Sean Cochran, Golf Fitness
The golf swing is an athletic action requiring a high level of fitness to execute, especially to win a major championship. We viewed this last weekend when we saw Phil Mickelson play what he called the best round of his career on Sunday to win his first Claret Jug at Muirfield in Scotland.
Phil’s caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay, said of his boss in USA Today, "He's Stronger than he's ever been, he's fitter than he's ever been and he's hungrier than he's ever been."
Many readers are aware I am Mickelson’s trainer and I have been with him for every major win of his career starting with the 2004 Masters. I am extremely happy for Phil and his family for this career accomplishment. I know first-hand the statements made by Mackay are true, and I also know the amount of time, effort, and energy Phil has spent in the gym on developing his body to compete at the professional level.
I bring up these points to shine a light on the importance the body and fitness plays in the modern game. We know in this day and age in order to execute a proficient golf swing requires certain levels of flexibility, joint mobility, core stability, strength, and power from the body.
If the body is lacking in any of these the ability to execute a proficient swing will be impeded. The results are compensatory patterns within the swing in an attempt to overcome these dysfunctions. Unfortunately such a situation typically results in the development of detrimental swing faults.
If we dissect the most common areas of physical dysfunction affecting the amateur player’s golf swing the hips and core are at the top of the list.
The hips are a categorized as a ball and socket joint with the ability to rotate through a large range of motion. And in order to execute a proficient swing the hips must be mobile in order to create the rotary actions found within the swing. Many amateurs are limited in this area.
Limitations in the core are a common “problem area” for the golfer as well. The core is a reference to an anatomical area of the body from just above the knees to slightly below the chest. The core is comprised of all the muscle groups on the front, back and sides of the body. Muscle groups of the core include the abdominals, obliques, glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. All of these muscles collectively require a certain level of muscular strength.
This level of muscular strength create a high level of stability in this segment of the body allowing the golfer to maintain the postural positions of the swing, rotate around the axis of the golf swing, and generate speed into the impact position. If the core is weak the ability perform these requirements of the swing will be impeded.
What is the process the amateur can begin addressing issues in the hips and core affecting their golf swing?
The answer is to do exactly what the PGA TOUR professional does and that is to perform golf fitness exercises developing the body around the requirements of the golf swing.
Two exercises I utilize with my players to develop hip mobility and core strength are spiders and physio ball Russian twists. Spiders are classified as a dynamic flexibility exercise for the hips whereas Russian twists are a rotary strength exercise for the core.
To perform the spider place yourself in a standard push-up position, back flat, hands shoulder width apart, and eyes looking down. Begin the exercise by lifting your left foot off the floor and placing it outside the left hand. Slowly attempt to press your left forearm down towards the floor, keeping your left hand in place. Lower your forearm as low to the floor as possible, and hold for one second. Return to the starting position of the exercise and repeat with your right hand and foot. Perform 10-15 repetitions of the exercise.
The physio ball Russian twist will require the use of an exercise ball. Place your head and shoulders of top of the ball. Elevate the hips to a position horizontally in line with the knees and shoulders. Place the feet shoulder width apart on the floor, extend the arms straight, and clasp your hands together.
Begin rotating to the left, allowing the ball to roll underneath your shoulders. Continue to rotate to the left to a position at which your left upper arm is resting on top of the ball. Return to the starting position and repeat the rotation to your right. Alternate the rotation left and right for 10-15 repetitions.
Developing the body around the requirements of the golf swing will pay large dividends in the development of your golf game. Follow the blueprint of the TOUR player and implement fitness exercises into your golf swing improvement program.
To learn more about Sean Cochran and his golf fitness training exercises and golf fitness programs go to http://www.seancochran.com