The “Big 3” In Golf Fitness – #1 Mobility
This is part 1 of 3, in a series titled “Golf Fitness – The Big 3”.
I’m going to discuss the importance of mobility for golfers, and provide some exercises you can do from home that will make an impact on your swing, and life.
Key points if you don’t want to read the full article:
- Better mobility gives you more options for your swing mechanics
- Longer back swings make it easier to generate club head speed
- Without adequate mobility you will not be able to create separation between your pelvis and torso in transition, a key move for high quality and powerful swings
- Your mobility is getting worse unless you’re actively working on it. Use the 4 exercises at the bottom of this article as a daily routine
Mobility For Golfers – Why It’s Important
Many of you reading this spend 60+ hours per week sitting when you combine work, driving, or relaxing on the couch. Some of us have been doing this for decades. Is it really any surprise that as this lack of movement compounds over time that a decline in mobility occurs?
Gradual decreases in mobility sneak up on us over time and can be really detrimental to our golf swings. You may have noticed it in your own game.
How exactly is mobility important and how can we work on it? Read on!
1) It gives you options for your swing mechanics:
The swings we can make will always be governed by our physical abilities. So if your mobility is very poor, you will be limited in the type and range of movement you can make in your swing.
Having a basic mobility routine will help you maintain your range of motion in joints that are integral to the golf swing which will be beneficial to your game in the long run.
If you’re not actively working on your mobility, it is slowly getting worse.
2) It helps you generate club head speed:
Having adequate mobility will help you generate clubhead speed in many ways. Two key ones are allowing you to create a longer back swing and improve your separation between your hips and shoulders in transition.
Longer Back Swings: Some professional golfers can create very high club head speeds and hit the ball huge distances with “short” back swings. Tony Finau and John Rahm are two obvious examples.
Finau, who averaged 309 yards off the tee in 2019 with an average club head speed of 121.8 mph, is 6’4 and 200lbs. Rahm averaged 306 yards off the tee with an average club head speed of 118.5 mph. He is 6’2 and 220lbs. We must be careful not to allow supremely talented golfers with high level athletic qualities blur the understanding of what’s better for average club golfers. Many average club golfers struggle to generate speed, and longer back swings will likely help with this.
Improved mobility will allow you to make a longer back swing, giving you more time to generate momentum and force in the downswing. For those of you struggling with your back swing length, allowing the lead heel to lift may be worth experimenting with.
Better Separation Between Hips & Shoulders:
This is an element of the “swing sequence” many amateurs struggle with. Better players tend to be able to rotate their hips towards the target while their torso is still turning away from the target. This creates a big stretch across the torso muscles, which when “let go,” results in more torso rotation speed..
The next time you’re watching the golf on TV and they show a face on slow motion view, watch out for this. It’s a key difference between elite and unskilled golfers.
This is all well and good in theory, but is very difficult to achieve if your hips and torso have limited mobility and your back feels like a wooden board.
Improved mobility can have a direct impact on your golf swing, but you have to commit to working on your mobility AND BE CONSISTENT to see results. This simple, four exercise mobility protocol will increase your mobility and hopefully your game.
Try 10-20 reps of each exercise in a slow and controlled fashion. Note the tempo and deliberate movement free of momentum in each exercise. You can do this routine daily, and I recommend at least 3 x week.
1) Spinal Flexion & Extension:
The spine is designed to be mobile, yet we rarely exercise this capability in our daily lives. A spine lacking mobility may also have a negative effect on our hip and shoulder mobility.
2) Hip Circles:
Hip mobility is also critical in the golf swing, and it’s one of the biggest differences I see between higher and lower handicappers. Without adequate hip mobility you are leaving yards on the table.
3) Half Kneeling Thoracic Rotation:
“I’ve lost my turn” is a common complaint from golfers, and usually refers to the shoulder turn, or thoracic spine rotation. The thoracic spine, more than any other body part, succumbs to the “desk job” lifestyle. If you’re hunched over a desk all day, it’s unlikely your thoracic spine will happily rotate on the first tee.
4) Arm Circles:
The shoulders are an area of the body that seem to be particularly susceptible to declining in mobility with age. Shoulder mobility is really important for back swing length.
The shoulder and rotator cuff are often injury sites in golfers too. Keeping them strong and mobile can go a long way in preventing and rehabbing injuries. You could even add a 1-2 lb weight to each hand for these if you have one, as long as you’re comfortable and can perform the movement correctly without load.
If you are serious about taking your golf (and general) fitness to the next level check out the Fit For Golf App. I recently released a new subscription option where you can avail of all the Fit For Golf Programs & additional content for just $12 per month or $120 per year. You will also get all future releases at no extra cost.
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Please let me know if you have any questions,