Why Your Jump Height Determines Your Driving Distance And How You Can Improve It

There’s a simple physical metric that determines how far you can hit a golf ball – your vertical jump height. Golf strength and conditioning expert Dimi Lulov, who has worked with top players on the Challenge Tour and European Tour, says that the scientific data on pros backs this up.

Like many physical metrics, your jump height can be improved through training. So how can you boost this, and improve your golfing performance potential in the quickest, easiest way? Read on to find out…

The Research

Compared to other sports, such as baseball, there’s been limited research into golf performance, but one piece of good research we do have is into the vertical jump heights of pro golfers. According to Dimi Lulov, there’s data to show a good correlation between vertical jump heights and driver club head speed/driving distance.

This is useful to a golf strength and conditioning coach, because a common request from pro golfers is to add a few yards to their driving distance, to keep pace with the game. Working with over 300 golfers in his career, Lulov has been able to use this consumable data to decide how best to help his clients.

People don’t often train for speed – you go to a gym, everyone's deadlifting and chest pressing but you'll very rarely see someone doing barbell squat jumps

Strength Plus Speed Equals Power

The first thing Lulov does with clients who want to add yards to their driving distance, is to compare their strength output to their vertical jump height. “We have data on the trap bar deadlift, which is the easiest way we can test strength output. And then we have a vertical jump, which is the easiest way we can test speed, our ground force production,” he tells me.

By comparing the two results Lulov can see if either one is lagging behind the other. “Strength plus speed equals power. So, let's say you're very strong in a trap bar deadlift, so you have adequate strength, but you're not jumping very high. We know then that there is a lack of speed, which then creates the lack of power.” Of course, it can be the other way around, with a lack of strength, which is why you need to follow a balanced program.

But Lulov says many of us just don’t train for speed: “You go to a gym, you see everyone's deadlifting, doing squats and chest pressing, but you'll very rarely see someone doing bodyweight jumps, or barbell squat jumps, or that sort of thing.”

Upgrading Your Spark Plugs

If speed is crucial then how can we go about getting it? Lulov says it’s all down to the central nervous system: “I like to basically describe this as the spark plug in your car. You can have a Lamborghini with the best V12 engine, but if your spark plugs are knackered, then you're not going to go very far.

“And that central nervous system is where we have that impulsive switch and that impulsive power, that you can then send to the muscles, which generate that speed.”

The good news here is that, unlike strength which takes time to build, the central nervous system can be trained for very fast results.

“Getting speed is a lot easier,” says Lulov, “because with strength, it takes time to actually build muscle and recover muscle, but the central nervous system development is already in us, we just have to unlock it.”

With plyometrics, you don't even have to be in a gym – you can do them in your living room, you can even do them in your workplace

The Power Of Plyometrics

OK, so much for the theory, how can you start unlocking the speed that’s already in you? “Our central nervous system is what develops when we do exercises such as jumps, including weighted jumps like barbell and dumbbell squat jumps,” says Lulov.

The sports science term for these types of exercises: plyometrics. And yes, doing a jump with a weighted barbell is an advanced kind of exercise; but plyometrics itself doesn’t have to be. “The good thing about plyometrics is that there is such a low barrier of entry with them. We can start at let's say, a seated jump. You can get anyone from the street to do a seated jump or a drop jump, and they will be fine with that,” says Lulov.

Once you’re ready to move on to more advanced plyometric moves, Lulov says that’s easier too. “Plyometrics is just an easily coachable exercise. If you were to take someone in the gym and give them a trap bar deadlift, there'll be more coaching points, and things they will have to be able to do before that move.

“But with plyometrics, you don't even have to be in a gym. You can do them in your living room, you can even do them in your workplace.”

The RSNG Conclusion

So, commit to training both strength and speed, and you’ll soon see your performance off the tee improve. You’ll need a good workout plan though – so it’s just as well that RSNG has already published this [free and exclusive, 6-week progressive workout plan](LINK TC) that develops both strength and speed – we’ve got you covered!

WHAT NEXT? Hollywood PT Don Saladino has the answer to improved golf mobility – check out the free supplementary drills he put together for RSNG here.

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Photos: Adobe Stock