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Pittsburgh golf fitness

Is Your Golf Swing Efficient?

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By Jeremy S. Hoy, Titleist Performance Institute Certified Golf Fitness Professional (TPI1)

It’s easy to watch the British Open or any major professional golf tournament and be amazed at how effortlessly (most of the time) the golfers seem to hit the ball and how much control and consistency they have during the rounds.

None of this happens by accident.

Occasionally we also get to see a golfer break down over the course and become less consistent, or never really find the groove for that day.

None of this happens by accident, either.

According to the Titleist Performance Institute, with 1000s of hours of analyzing the worlds top golfers, there are three things that lead to efficiency breakdowns:

  1. Poor Mechanics—teaching professionals use video swing analysis to isolate mechanical breakdowns
  2. Poor Physical Conditioning—golf fitness coaches/professionals use physical screens to isolate any limitations in the body.
  3. Poor Equipment—use club fitting to determine the best specifications for the player

The Titleist Performance Institute certified golf fitness professional is responsible for utilizing specific physical screens and working to prevent efficiency breakdowns.

An efficient swing, or one of the main keys to great ball striking, is a good kinematic sequence. This is the correct sequence or pattern of the hips, torso, arm, and club, firing in that sequence at point of contact or ball strike. This is the sequence for an efficient swing, which is crucial for consistency and accuracy.

Additionally, for great ball striking, you will need good segment stabilization (stability in each segment during the sequencing), and square face contact of the club.

Inefficient movement, poor kinematic sequencing, and/or lack of stability all can directly contribute to one of the major swing characteristics (or faults).

It is the job of the Titleist Performance Institute certified golf fitness professional to screen for physical limitations that could create inefficient movement, poor kinematic sequencing, and/or lack of segment stability. Once these limitations have been identified, a customized program can be created to work to correct these issues, and help create a more efficient golf swing.

(I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book, even if you are able to meet with a TPI certified golf fitness coach–lots of great information about how the body works specific to golf!)

For information about specific golf fitness programs offered at Finish First Sports Performance, you can reach us at admin@finishfirstsports.com.

Please stay tuned for more articles about the swing characteristics and different physical screens that are used to correlate with each characteristic.

“I would highly recommend Finish First Sports to anyone who is looking to improve their sport specific performance and overall physical conditioning. I was looking to make my golf swing more efficient and was extremely satisfied with the workout programs and results. My core strength, flexibility and kinesthetic movements all improved which has positively affected my ball striking, balance and endurance. The workouts are tailored to you and really focus on what is important and what you are trying to achieve. If you are serious and not looking for the easy way out, Finish First is for you.

–Drew Bohn, PGA Professional

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5 Surefire Ways to Unlock Your Hips and Improve Your Golf Game

Is this your Golf Swing? (Picture of Adam Sandler in the movie Happy Gilmore)

By Brandon Monin, Athletic Performance Specialist, MS, CSCS, TPI GFC

I often get asked: What can I do in the gym to improve my golf game?  At first it was difficult to say because every golfer is different and has different needs.  After I thought about it, the most common physical limitation I’ve found in golfers is their hips.  Whether it is a lack of mobility, lack of strength/power, or a combination of the two.  So I came up with five surefire ways to unlock your hips and see instant improvement.

  1. Use Corrective Exercises– These are exercises designed to teach your muscles how to work as well as increase their flexibility.  They can be utilized before, during, and after your workout–As well as while you’re sitting around reading the newspaper or watching TV.
  2. Use Full Range of Motion Lower Body Exercises- A common misconception is that weight training will make you tight or less flexible.  This is false… weight training through a full range of motion will open up your hips and force you to be more mobile.  I would suggest doing lower body exercises both double and single leg, and be sure that you perform single leg movements in different planes of motion (think forward, backward, side to side).
  3. Use Rotational Exercises- These are essential to increase rotational power and add distance to your game.  A common mistake I see with golfers is that they will perform these exercises with little to no hip action (all arms).  Be sure to focus on a full rotation reaching back–then start with your hips and turn them all the way through so your hips are facing your target (just like you would with your golf swing).  It’s not the exact same motion as a golf swing but it mimics the kinetic sequence and will have a high carry over to it.
  4. Use Stretching Consistently- This is the easiest of the five to do.  I’ve found that most golfers sit a lot, whether it is for school or work.  When you sit your hip flexors (the muscles in the front of the hips) are contracted that entire time.  Over time that causes them to become very tight, greatly limiting the mobility in your hips.  If you can make a conscious effort to get up from your desk or workspace and stretch your hips you’ll see big improvements.  Also after every time you train or exercise use a total body stretching routine, whether it consists of simple static stretches or an engaging stretching routine using bands.  Be sure to pay extra attention to your hips (stretch in all directions).
  5. Use Exercises to Improve Core Strength- Improving core strength will allow your body to stabilize or stay stationary and your hips to move independently.  This is essential to the golf swing.  The inability to separate the torso from the hips will not allow for a proper kinematic sequence.  This causes an inconsistent swing and/or a loss of distance.

After reading this you might be thinking, “I know my hips are tight and I swing just fine.”  That just means you are probably compensating well for your tightness and those compensations can eventually lead to injuries.  You are asking parts of the body that normally act as stabilizers to possibly try to produce force or execute movements, placing unwanted stress in these areas—which increases your risk of being injured.

Lastly, think about how much better your swing will be and how much further you’ll be able to hit the ball if you could only turn your hips all the way through and gain the advantage of a greater range of motion in your swing!

If you’re interested in finding out how a comprehensive specific golf fitness program could help you improve your golf game, please complete this form.

5 Ways Physical Training can Improve your Golf Game

By Brandon Monin, MS, CSCS, TPI GFI

For years it was believed by golfers at all levels that weight training and physically preparing for golf wasn’t effective.  There are many misconceptions that are associated with weight training or physical preparation such as it will “bulk you up” or you make you less flexible and negatively impact your technique.  Despite what many believe or what you have heard, there have been many research studies done in the last few years on elite level golfers that show that these misconceptions are all wrong.

Golf is a very physically demanding sport that requires consistent precision within the complexity of the swing, as well as the ability to generate explosive power through a wide range of motion.  The golf swing uses the entire body to transfer power to the ball to propel the ball far and accurate.  Many of the top players in the world such as Tiger Woods credit their commitment to physical preparation as one of the major reasons for their success.  Golf is now a sport where physical training is an integral component to play at a high level consistently and without injury.

Specific Physical Training

There are several physical functions that need to be addressed in a training program.  These include balance, posture, flexibility, core strength, peripheral strength, power, and cardiovascular function.  Improving these physical functions can help improve several aspects of your golf game such as club head speed, drive distance, putting distance, stamina, and longevity.

5 Benefits of Specific Physical Training for Golf:

1.     Increase Club Head Speed

 Three main factors affect club head speed: Muscular force, the range of motion of the swing or flexibility, and the coordination of all the movements in a swing required to hit the ball.  A proper training program will increase these factors therefore increasing the club head speed and allowing for more distance on your shots.

2.     Increase Drive Distance

 An increase in club head speed will ultimately increase your distance off the tee while keeping accuracy.  Several studies have proven this showing an increase of as much as 9 meters in just six weeks of training.

3.     Increase Putting Distance and Accuracy

 With an increase of power, core stability, and balance putting distance and accuracy can be improved.

4.     Increase Stamina (endurance, power endurance)

 This is vital to a golfer’s performance over the entire 18 holes.  The golf swing requires a very high power output that occurs 30-40 times during 18 holes of golf.  An untrained golfer will fatigue decreasing one’s performance.  For those who choose to walk the course improving endurance could lead to a significant decrease in handicap.  Physical training can improve the golfer’s stamina (endurance) or more specifically power endurance which makes it possible to hit the last drive of the day, or the last chip of the day with the same amount of force and power, and accuracy (control) as the first one of the day.

5.     Increase Longevity

 A proper physical training (exercise) program will decrease the risk of injury in both junior and senior golfers, and consequently decrease the amount of time away from the sport.  Injuries occur more often in senior golfers due to the natural decrease in the physical functions such as flexibility and mobility.  A proper exercise program will delay these decreases in senior golfers and allow them to play well into their later decades.

As you can see a proper exercise program can improve your golf game and lower your handicap.  So forget about the negative stories you’ve heard and remember the facts.  Physical preparation for golfers is proven to be effective by not only solid scientific research but also thousands of golfers who chose not to believe the common misconceptions.  So whether you’re young or old, a recreational or serious golfer, starting a proper exercise program could get you over the hump and lower your handicap.  Besides the benefits on the course the health benefits from exercising are an added bonus.

Finish First Sports Performance will be offering a FREE TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Golf Fitness Evaluation at the Robert Morris University (RMU) Golf Dome on January 21, 2012 from 1pm – 3pm.  Space is limited so register early at the customer service desk at the dome or by calling 866-468-2231 x820.  For more information visit http://www.finishfirstsports.com/golf-fitness.html

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