Improving the Overhead Squat for Golf

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The overhead squat is one of the tests that we use in the TPI screen.

It is a fairly common test. The FMS uses it and a lot of information can be taken from it if you know what you are looking for.

For golfers, there is a correlation between a failed overhead squat screen and early extension. Early extension is when you stand up too tall before hitting the golf ball. This is not only a risk factor for back pain, but it can lead to poor golf shots. The result can be poor contact, hitting the ball thin, and losing accuracy.

When we look at the overhead squat screen the goal is to get the hips below parallel while keeping a dowel overhead. Click below for more info on the actual screen.

In terms of clearing up the overhead squat pattern. There are many areas that we need to look at. A failed screen could be caused by any of the following:

  • Motor control
  • Ankle mobility
  • Knee Stability
  • Hip Mobility
  • Core Stability
  • T Spine Mobility
  • Scapular Stability
  • Shoulder Mobility

Oh, good now that I narrowed it down this should be easy. 

Motor control is an easy one. If someone has never even attempted the pattern they are probably not going to succeed with it. They need to practice the pattern to clear it up.

Ankle mobility can be checked by elevating the heels and retesting the OH squat. If the pattern improves then ankles are a culprit. Start your training sessions out by adding an ankle mobility drill on the wall.

Knee stability can be checked by using two methods. One would be to perform some single leg balances to improve lower body stability. Stand on one leg and hold. A second option would be to roll out the IT Bands and Adductors or the inside and outside of the thigh. If those two areas are tight they can create a tug of war that builds instability in the knee.

Hip Mobility can be checked by using a rockback. If you can perform a rockback below parallel then you at least have the range of motion in your hips to perform a parallel squat. If you get stuck in the rockback I would start by releasing the hips on a roller or lacrosse ball. That should help dramatically.

To clear core stability you will need a 10 lb weight. Hold the weight straight out in front of you and perform a squat. If the pattern improves then you can consider core stability a limiting factor. The weight provides a counter balance and activates the core. Start by performing side planks, birddogs, Pallof presses, and planks every day.

cb squat

When it comes to T Spine mobility, I pretty much just recommend that everyone performs T Spine extensions on a roller. They feel good and they improve mobility through our upper back. Just do them.

To determine if you limitation is in the upper body or lower body in the OH squat we have a simple modification. Take your OH squat and if the pattern improves by crossing your arms across your chest, then it is safe to say that the limitation is in the upper body.

This is where it is helpful to screen for shoulder mobility. The tricky part is that shoulder mobility is partly influenced by scap stability. Using the 90/90 test both standing and in mid iron posture is helpful to see mobility. You are looking to get your forearm past your spine angle.

90-90 test

Performing a band resisted external rotation will fire up the shoulder stabilizers while also allowing the arm to move through a decent range of motion, improving external rotation.

This is only scratching the surface of the patterns. The goal is to improve our stability and mobility to enhance our golf game. Hit on the areas that I have listed above and you will start moving and playing better.

Have you checked out Distance Made Simple for Golf yet? If not, head over there now.