By Skip Latella, Flexor
Member Chelsea Cohen Fitness Academy advisory board

Most golfers don’t realize that poor posture affects the golf swing more than they think. The swing starts with a good setup, without which balance, structure and subsequent swing positions are all adversely affected

When any area of the body is compromised in its ability to function through the specific swing position with limited strength or flexibility, the body will compensate by attempting to make up this lost movement at another area of their body. This will result in both decreased performance and increase the risk of injury.

Although increasing flexibility is important, traditional stretching has not been shown to be very effective form improving swing performance. The golf swing requires the body to move through ranges of motion not seen in normal daily activities. It is important that the golfer practice movement specific to those required in the golf swing in order to achieve desired position specific flexibility.

Stretching muscles in “combination” is the best way to create functional, position specific range of motion for the golfer.

It is very important for the golfer to set up to the ball in as neutral a posture as possible. There should not be any rounding of the shoulders or upper back. Being aligned in neutral posture allow you to rotate into your back swing, downswing, and finish positions much easier, with greater movement and less stress to the body.

Understanding body awareness is the most overlooked component of training for golf. Think of all the muscles across all the joints involved in the swing which is less than 2 seconds. The body needs to be trained in a more specific fashion in order to deliver more precise and efficient information for movements.

The body has thousands of tiny receptors in the muscles and joints which keep track of every movement throughout the golf swing. The better these receptors work with their respective muscles, the more awareness the golfer will have of proper positions required for the swing.

Your ability to balance under different circumstances depends on how well your body senses changes to position. Sand shots, uneven lies are inherent in the golf game. The body requires awareness or sensory input to maintain balance during motion.

Train for success. It is important that more than one type of training method be used in a fitness program. Too often, individuals spend little time on their weaknesses. A good, all round program for golf should include: cardio, core training, stability, flexibility and endurance. If you are weaker in one area more than another, spend “more” time on your weaknesses.

Functional strength, along with increased flexibility and better stability will provide the golfer with the most consistent swings, along with greater distance.

When training for golf, it is not necessary to spend hours in the gym at any one time. Stress “quality” of movement and programming over time. Normally, 30-45 minutes of intense concentrated effort a few days weekly will provide the benefits needed. Hit all the areas previously mentioned: stability, flexibility strength, endurance, and cardio. A program that includes all of these components can be accomplished in a time efficient manner.

Body awareness, otherwise known as proprioception, is your ability to sense where your body is in space at any given time. Think about your golf swing. It takes approximately 1.5 – 2 seconds to perform a full swing. A very important aspect of the swing is your body being able to correctly match what is real and feel. This is your perception about where your body and club are at any one point in the swing. It is almost impossible to gain consistency if your body is not trained to understand this awareness. It is not “muscle memory “, it is a better brain body connection.

During the back swing, good mobility is enhanced by having a stable base of support from which the muscles can maximize their moments. If the lower body is stable and working efficiently, the upper body can elongate properly to achieve the correct, full back swing position.

Just as there are different skill sets in golf, so too exist differences in fitness training levels. Too often individuals want to more from minimal or no sport specific training to very complicated exercises. It is imperative that you listen to your body and progress according to how your body accepts the training progressions prescribed by your trainer.

One of the more common misconceptions in golf is how distance is achieved. It is not just strength. The body’s ability to create more efficient, swing specific angles throughout all phases of the swing has more impact on increasing club head speed than the body’s ability to lift heavy weights.

Balance is the key to good, consistent golf swing. Not just standing over the ball on the tee, but having “dynamic” balance, stability throughout the entire swing phase. Most golfers do not train for balance. The muscles most important for balance are from the abdomen to your feet both on the front and back of the body.

If a golfer is restricted in his ability to move his body into a desirable position while remaining in balance during the back swing, the subsequent downswing is adversely affected no matter how strong the individual is.

When some disruption occurs in the body’s kinetic chain the energy production becomes weaker. This is not just about strength, weakness can occur from a lack of flexibility, improper balance, all of which will affect body awareness. Having adequate ranges of motion in the body’s segments and proper awareness of these segments – throughout the swing- are as important as the strength associated with each muscle group.

One of the greatest variables within golf is the surface the golfer stands on. The tee box is easy – flat. It is the ability to feel just as grounded as at the tee when standing on: uphill downhill lies, heavy rough, in the sand. Each of these variables requires the body to adjust differently. Training for stability on all surfaces will enhance the body’s ability to adjust when on the golf course.