Healthy Blog

I play golf - I don't need to do anything as intense as plyometric exercises, right?

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

So you play golf; this is supposed to be a fairly subdued sport right? There’s no big gym sessions or heavy weights here is there? If you look at some of the best players in the world today, the likes of Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Rory Mcilroy, you will see each of them spend hours in the gym, performing compound lifts, with heavy weights, as well as plyometric exercises. These 3 players are also 3 of the longest hitters in the game today.

Most golfer’s perform strength training with the intention of increasing their club head speed and hence increasing their distance. Strength training can also be used to safeguard the body against injury. In this article, we will discuss the use and benefits of plyometric strength training and how it can improve your golfing performance through increasing your distance – now who doesn’t want that?

So first of all, what are plyometric exercises? They are exercises where the muscle is quickly stretched before it contracts quickly.  An example of this would be squat jumps.  A traditional squat would be where you squat down and then push back up at a steady pace with a pause in between repetitions.  The plyometric version of this would be where you jump in the air and upon landing you would quickly drop down into a squat and jump up as high as possible out of the squat position.  This would be continually repeated without pausing between repetitions.  You can turn almost any exercise you can think of into a plyometric exercise in this manner.

There are three main factors that affect club head speed and hence ball speed and therefore shot distance. These are: muscular force applied through limb segments, the distance over which the force acts, and the segmental sequence in which these occur.

The aim of plyometric training is to improve the muscular force applied through limb segments.

Let’s imagine the golf swing for a moment - if you lead with the hips, trunk and then shoulder, the movement adheres to the summation of speed principle (that is the speed of each segment can be added together to give you the overall speed). The action of the golf swing can then be classified as a plyometric action, because of the limited transition time between the stretching (back swing) and the conraction (down swing).  With this in mind, the most recent research is suggesting that plyometric training (or even combining plyometric training with your traditional weight training ) is the best form of resistance work to produce superior performances in golf.

According to a recent study "plyometric training causes changes in the musculotendinous system and the neuromuscular system, helping slow twitch fibres to take on fast twitch characteristics" As the golf swing is a quick movement which does not last long, fast twitch fibres are more beneficial and will be recruited more readily than slow twitch muscle fibres.

So, so much for the theory; does this stuff actually work? Fletcher et al. studied the effects of plyometric training and found "a significant increase in driving distance and clubhead speed following an 8-week combined weight training and plyometric program.” The average increase in driving distance was 11 metres with some achieving up to 17 metres! Now who wouldn’t want that? Imagine taking 1 club less into each green – now that is sure to improve your scoring.

Want to increase your driving distance and hit better scores? Time to start doing some plyometric training!