I have recently started gardening as way to relax and get away from the stressors of everyday life. My main gardening task throughout the spring has been removing weeds, leaves, and unwanted plants which were left over from the previous season. I quickly started to realize that removing unwanted waste from the garden is a crucial step prior to adding new soil and flowers.
This process led me to think of what strategy many of my juniors typically employ in the gym and on the course to help improve their golf performance. Over the past six years as a golf / fitness coach I have started to realize that gains in golf performance typically occur when the player first looks at what needs to be removed as opposed to what needs to be added.
In an attempt to improve their golf swing, most players will focus on certain technical cues (ie. keep my left arm extended) while swinging the golf club. While the technical cues may not necessarily be incorrect, the conscious thought throughout the golf swing is not necessarily the key to improved performance. It is essential to understand that the golf swing is an action and not a thought. As a result, we want to start by looking at what may need to be removed as opposed to added. Most players will benefit from starting to become aware of any fear, doubt, or indecision which may be present while swinging the golf club. Experiment with removing any technical cues and staying present to a sense while hitting the golf shot. Staying present to a sense during the swing will help combat any internal chatter which may be inhibiting performance. An example of this could be staying present to a certain tension level in your hands throughout the full golf swing. When you start to remove thoughts and stay present to the activity you often will realize that nothing needs to be added to your golf swing.
In the gym, most junior golfers will typically start a conditioning program by increasing strength and speed. Much like the garden, we need to ensure that we start by removing as opposed to adding. Most often my first task with players is to remove any physical limitations which may be influencing their ability to swing a golf club efficiently. Limitations such as a tight upper back or weak glutes are prevalent in most junior golfers. These limitations often result from poor daily postural patterns which get reinforced throughout the day at school (ie. sitting at a desk all day). If the physical limitations are not removed first, the athlete will be adding strength and speed to a poor movement pattern. The strengthened poor movement pattern will most often lead to injuries and ultimately decreases in golf performance. Always ensure to start your conditioning program by having a certified golf fitness professional perform a golf specific movement screen to identify any physical limitations. Work hard to remove limitations before adding strength and speed exercises to your workouts.
Please see the links below to a few of my favourite exercises which I use with my junior golfers to create mobility in the upper back and hips: