Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Golf Fitness for Young Players

One of the most common questions I hear during recruiting is, how does your team work out and what can I do to help my daughter get stronger.  This is a great question and it is really a pretty simple formula for fitness, but still very scary for parents who don't have the knowledge needed to lead their daughters through a workout.

In the old days, most golfers played multiple sports.  We played basketball, volleyball or other team sports when it wasn't golf season.  Our fitness was formed in the gym by coaches with whistles and our muscles grew with each season and the diversity of our pursuits gave us a balanced body.  Those days are gone.  Golfers now rarely play anything besides golf, making their fitness routine extremely important to prevent injuries and provide strength, body balance, explosiveness and speed.

The first goal in fitness is injury prevention.  For our purposes, that means protecting the joints, building core strength and providing the balance our muscles need.  Here is what each of those things entails.  Protecting your joints in golf means building the building the muscles around them and increasing flexibility.  The more developed your muscles are around the joint, the more they will absorb the vibrations caused by impact.  The muscles around your joint will also help with stability during the swing.  Finally, your muscles will be important for stamina throughout your round.  Playing 18 holes of golf while carrying a bag in 90 degree heat puts a lot of stress on your body.  Having strength will allow you to have consistency through your round.

Bear Crawl

Two crucial areas where many overuse injuries show up in golfers are the shoulders and the hips.  With a simple theraband, you can begin to build and stretch both of these areas to protect yourself.  Here are some links to great exercises for your shoulders.  Simple Shoulder Exercises  You will see in this link that the exercises are fairly simple and the weights should be very light or you can use a band.  Here is another link to a great fitness expert, Mindy Boysen, who shows us rotator cuff exercises that will help prevent shoulder injuries.  Mindy Boysen's Fab Four  Old favorites that we used in our warm ups are bear crawls and crab walks.  It is great to do fun stuff and use only your body weight to help you get a great work out.
Crab Walk

The strength and flexibility of the hips is often overlooked and one of the most important areas to focus on for good golf and injury prevention.  Maintaining great golf posture throughout the swing is reliant upon hamstring flexibility and strong hips and glutes.  This is often one of the weakest areas we test in incoming players and because the hip turn creates a lot of the speed in your golf swing, it is an area of focus for players who want to gain distance.  Once again, simple things can be done to increase your hip strength and flexibility.  The first exercise is hip abduction.  It can be done on a machine or with a theraband.  Here is a youtube video of abduction on a swiss ball.  Adding the swiss ball will get your core engaged.  You can also use a theraband loop around your feet and do monster walks and lateral steps.
More body weight exercises you can do are walking lunges, squats and box jumps.  All are great for strengthening the hips and glutes and developing explosiveness.

These are just two areas we focus on in our workouts at SMU.  We also develop core strength and overall fitness.  We do a lot of over and backs, which are runs across the football field to develop our cardiovascular system.  Our goal is to get our heart rate up and recover just as quickly.  This is important if you have to walk up a hill and then set up to hit an important shot.  There are plenty of sources out there for you to tap into to help you get started with your golf fitness.  Make sure that you warm up your body, do some stretching and don't do anything that hurts when you are starting out.  It is okay if you hurt a bit the next day though.

Find a trainer in your area or better yet, a TPI certified instructor.  Good luck!

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