Granted, working on your golf mobility may not sound as attractive as crunching a bucket of balls at the range. But you should believe golf strength and conditioning coach Jamie Greaves when he says that there are huge gains to be had by improving your range of movement.
As Greaves tells RSNG, so far as the golf swing is concerned, we should concentrate on ‘the big three’ – the shoulders, hips and spine.
Here are four key moves to improve your golf mobility…
1. Wall Slides
When you break it down, you can see that the average golf swing involves a great amount of external rotation of the trail shoulder in the backswing. This means it’s easy for you to get stuck in an upright position with a high right elbow, which will rob your swing of power and accuracy.
‘When I physically assess golfers like this, they struggle to externally rotate their shoulder,’ explains Jamie Greaves, who has witnessed many a model swing with his tour professionals clients, as well as those belonging to club golfers and beginners.
‘If you don’t have the physical capability to externally rotate your shoulders, it’s going to be extremely difficult to do so when you swing the club at 100mph.’ That makes sense, so what’s the best way to go about improving shoulder mobility?
Some of Greaves’ mobility work is unusual, but it’s also highly effective. ‘One of my favourites is the wall slide, which is where you stand with the back against a wall and you slide your forearms up and down it, ideally without pushing the hips and spine forward, which is a kind of cheat.’
‘By sliding up you’re having to use your shoulders. Try ten reps a week, concentrating on quality over quantity.’
‘The beauty of cats and dogs and the side bend drill is that you get all the three keys moves that happen in the golf swing’
2. Cats And Dogs
Our spine naturally extends as we rotate through the golf swing, where we get flexion and extension. This movement can be improved with another of Greaves’ favourites: ’Cats and Dogs’. It’s an exercise he’s borrowed from yoga, so you might need to get yourself a mat.
Start by getting into the all fours position. ‘I like to get people to do it in an order, so start down near the lower back. Feel like you’re trying to make a wave on your t-shirt. Then gradually work your way up through the spine. It’s difficult to do but it does start to build a bit of awareness through your spine.’
‘The spine is designed to move. That’s why I like people to do the cats and dogs flexion extension drill every day. If we don’t move it, we lose the ability for it to move.’
3. Side Bend Drill
A rotation with side bend drill will also help the spine. This exercise requires your feet and knees to be pressed together. You rotate and try and side bend without losing that rotation that you’ve created.
‘When you come back up, most people will find they’re able to rotate a little bit further. Cats and dogs is working on the flexion and extension, and the side bend drill is working on rotation and lateral flexion, which is side bend.
The beauty of cats and dogs and the side bend drill is that you get all the three keys moves that happen in the golf swing, plus you can do this in the comfort of your own home. The advice is to do no more than two or three in a row to one side, then switch sides.
‘The average person gets up, goes to work, sits down, comes back and sits on the sofa again’
4. Seated Active Hip Internal Rotation Drill
It’s a bit of a mouthful, but this drill is really simple and very effective in improving your internal hip rotation. First, a warning: ‘The average person gets up, goes to work, sits down, comes back and sits on the sofa again,’ says Greaves. ‘There’s nothing wrong in sitting down, but we’re designed to move and many of us just aren’t really doing that moving.’
‘For golfers, when it comes to executing that first meaningful swing, the hips, for example, don’t fire; they don’t quite work the way they should.’
‘The length of the arc is one of the key contributors to swing speed. We can improve that arc, whether that’s enhancing the range in the hips, shoulders and spine, which will have potentially great speed creation benefits.’
So, start seated with your knees and feet together. Then, move your foot away as much as possible to internally rotate the hip. You must ensure you do not rotate the foot instead of the hip, split the knees or lean to increase range. Take a note of how much motion you have and repeat on the other side.
Greaves also has a few words of caution to manage your expectations. ‘Even if you develop more mobility, there’s still skill involved of putting that into a golf swing.’
‘That’s why we have golf coaches. However, many golfers fight the same swing issues over and over again, and it often has something to do with the hips, shoulders and spine. Getting those joints moving better is going to help.’
‘Mobility and movement will help in everyday life, too, and also with strength-building movements in the gym.’
Justin Timberlake can certainly move his hips; he’s also keen on his golf. RSNG spoke to him about his passion for the game – you can read the interview here.
- Jamie Greaves has worked as a golf strength and conditioning coach for the past three years. He is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Coach and is one of only ten people in the UK with active TPI Level 3 fitness status @jg_golffitness*
Comments are for information only and should not replace medical advice, care or recommendations. Please check with your Doctor before embarking on exercise or nutrition regimes for the first time.