It’s strength, not the clubs!
The perfect swing is the Holy Grail of golf. Many golfers will purchase top-of-the-line clubs with the hope that they'll increase the distance of their drive and decrease their handicap.
What many golfers don't realize is that the quality of their clubs is not what will ultimately lower their handicap. Instead, it's your overall strength and flexibility that will improve your swing and shave strokes off of your game.
As with any sport, a tailored training regimen that focuses on the muscles most used by the player is best. In golf, attention should be given to core strength and flexibility to reduce overuse of your arms and wrists and to prevent strain on the lower back.
In addition to strengthening your core, you should strive to improve flexibility in your feet, ankles, hips, and thoracic spine to increase your rotational range of motion.
The farther you can wind your body while maintaining good alignment, the more powerful your swing will be, and the further the ball will go.
Practice these five exercises to master the perfect swing:
Standing wood chop
This exercise integrates the movements of your hips, back, and shoulders, while increasing strength and improving flexibility. It's best performed with a cable system, like a resistance band. But it can also be done with a medicine ball or free weight.
- Place the resistance band beneath your left foot.
- Slightly bending your knees, pull the band overhead to your right, like you're about to swing an axe.
- Perform 8 to 12 repetitions, and then rest for 30 seconds.
- Switch sides, and repeat 1 to 3 times.
This exercise can improve the range of motion, strength, and power of your hips by working them in the frontal plane with side-to-side movement.
- Keeping perfect posture throughout, take a large step to your left, shifting your weight to that side.
- Your left leg should be bent while the right leg is extended to the right.
- Make sure to keep your toes pointing straight ahead.
- Alternating legs, perform 8 to 12 repetitions, then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat 1 to 3 times.
Glute activation lunges
These standard lunges can be used to improve mobility in your hips, which can result in greater strength and a more powerful swing.
- Start with your feet together and your hands on your hips.
- Take a giant step forward, bending your front leg at a 90-degree angle, or until your thigh is parallel to the floor.
- Your back leg should remain strong and straight.
- Step back into a standing position and repeat 8 to 12 times.
- Alternate legs 1 to 3 times, resting in between.
Front and side plank
This series helps to activate your core muscles, which promote stability and strength in the torso.
- Lying face down, place palms flat on the floor.
- Tuck your toes under, roll your shoulders onto your back, away from your ears, and push away from the floor.
- Keep your back flat and engage your abdominal muscles.
- Hold for 20 to 60 seconds and release back down onto the floor.
- Repeat 3 to 5 times.
To do a side plank, start by lying on your side with your legs stacked.
- Rest your body on your forearm, shoulder directly over your elbow.
- Lift your hips so that your body is in a straight line.
- Hold for 20 to 60 seconds and lower back down.
- Repeat 3 to 5 times on each side.
Supine spinal twists
These twists are an excellent way to increase core strength while enhancing torso mobility. If performed correctly, your shoulders will also receive a good stretch.
- Begin on your back with your feet raised and bent in a 90-degree angle, or so that your calves are parallel to the floor.
- Extend your arms out wide, with palms facing down.
- Slowly lower your legs to the right side of your body, keeping your knees together.
- Hover above the ground for about 20 to 30 seconds, and then return to center.
- Switch sides and repeat 1 to 3 times.
Consistency is key
Remember that with any physical conditioning, consistency is key. If you incorporate a regular regimen of sport-specific strength and flexibility exercises into your workout, you should begin to see your performance improve within a few weeks.
Combine your workouts with whole foods and plenty of water, and you'll be well on your way to the perfect swing.