Improve Your Golf Game: Core Stability

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There are a lot of factors that go into the game of golf.

All of the nuances involved in the swing alone is enough to drive someone crazy.

So for the people that cannot seem to get their swing under control, I ask is there something we are missing.

I believe the missing link to most golf games is not equipment or more swings at the range but fitness.

Last week, I talked about getting stronger and today I am bringing core stability to the table.

Core stability is necessary for the health of the back, shoulders, and hips. It may also make you a better golfer.

Wrobel, Marclay, Najafi (2012) looked at postural control in different level golfers.

They found:

1.      Advanced players (9-14 handicap) had a better postural control than novice players at maximum arm speed.

2.      Novice players reached a maximal COM (center of mass motion) acceleration at the top of the back swing. This results in an over the top swing (See: slice)

3.      Advanced players who leaned towards the back foot had decreased shoulder range of motion

4.      Advanced players were more stable at ball strike impact.

These results show a few things. The primary one is that novice players cannot control their upper body when they swing a golf club. This leads us to believe that a golfer’s performance will increase if they can stay stable when swinging.

This person is going to struggle to hit the ball well.

Interestingly, players of all levels will lose rotational capacity if they are leaning backwards in their swing.  There is no golfer that is going to succeed without being able to rotate.

The golf swing (or any rotational power movement) starts in the lower body and power is transmitted through the core and into the arms. This means you must be able to keep the core muscles tight once the legs start the movement.

The torso also needs to stay within your base of support (your feet) to achieve whole body stability. Losing core stability will create an energy leak that decreases performance and increases injury risk.

In this case, you won’t hit the ball as far if your torso is moving.

This is found in people that are leaning towards one foot or fall off balance when they swing. The torso is moving side to side, excessively and cannot stay tight.

Torque is the measure of force rotating around an axis. When swinging a golf club, the body is the axis that the club swings around. That axis must be stationary for optimal torque and a smooth, consistent swing.

A body that moves all over the place will also decrease ball striking and accuracy. If the lack of postural control can create an over the top swing, the risk of slicing or chunking the ball increases.

This is not only going to destroy your score, but your patience and confidence will suffer.

This golfer is much more prepared to swing along a stable body.

The core muscles include the abdominals, erector spinae, quadrates lumborum, gluts, etc. If you want to increase the performance of these muscles, they should be trained together.

Training in isolation is will not increase stability and has been shown to be problematic in many people.

Whole body stability can be trained with Paloff presses, farmer’s walks, lifts, and chops to name a few.

Train the movement, instead of the muscle, to assist in performance gains. In this case the sum of the parts is not greater than the whole.

One Last Consideration

Stability is also important to train for instead of more rotation because it is the unfamiliar movement to golfers. What I mean by that is golfers take so many swings that they do not need to train to rotate more.

They need to train to move about a stable torso. Resisted rotations and other exercises have value in the early off season but golfers get plenty of rotation when they are playing and practicing.

Too much of a focus on rotation is not going to get the gains that stability training will get. There is just such a limited ceiling for more rotational ability.

Train for core stability to improve your health and your handicap.