Cam Smith has made a lot of progress from when we first started working together. Not only is he now top 50 in the world, he has progressed from a scrawny teen into a well rounded golf athlete. Aged 16 he was weak, tight, had some alarming postural adaptations from golf and was in pain and discomfort in a number of areas.

I would like to share with you what I consider to be the 5 areas that the competitive club golfer can learn from Cam’s approach to physical preparation. If implemented properly these will not help your golf but benefit your long-term musculo-skeletal health too.

Cam’s approach is particularly relatable and applicable to the club golfer because he isn’t the biggest guy, or the most gifted athlete, or the hardest worker. Cam likes to keep things simple and use practice and training approaches that can be completed in a short amount of time with the minimum of fuss (leaving more time for messing around on the range apparently!)

 

A selection from Cam’s large repertoire of comedy golf swings

 

1) Stick to the Plan

Cam doesn’t wander from the prescribed plan; this is for 3 main reasons. Firstly he wants to avoid the excessive post exercise soreness that prohibits him from practicing and performing effectively. Sticking to familiar exercises and loads helps ensure this. Secondly, performing the same exercises allows him time to get familiar and comfortable with the technique, ensuring absolute best form and resultant outcome. Lastly, golf is a tough mental sport especially at the very elite level. Being able to go into the gym and carry out a familiar routine means that there is no excess mental energy being used up unnecessarily.

How you can apply this – find a good training program and stick to it. Only change up exercises when performance isn’t a priority (e.g. off season).

 

Banded back squats have been a staple for off season training, great for power development.

 

2) Warm Up Consistently

Cam recognizes the importance of warming up properly to not only prevent injury, but also help ensure he is moving correctly. His 15-minute routine of self-massage, stretch and posture setting is quite literally a daily habit. Pre tournament rounds, it’s also a great time to get his head in the right place and start mentally preparing for the upcoming challenge. The equipment used is a vibrating foam roller and massage ball (both made by hyperice) and the GravityFit TPro.

How you can apply this – Get yourself some basic warm up equipment, identify the key areas to release / stretch / activate and allocate 15 minutes before you play to go through the routine.

 

Cam warming up at the Bay Hill Invitational, 2017

 

3) Train for Specific Power

The keys to hitting the ball a long way are widely considered to be combination of vertical thrust and rotational speed. Since 2015 we have focused specifically on training these areas through jump variations along with rotating against resistance. The jump variations progress from small drop jumps to squat jumps with 20kg to trap bar jumps with as much as 60kg. The rotational speed approach doesn’t change much, normally working with a strong resistance band that challenges Cam to try to move at the same speed he swings driver. This contributed to Cam placing 3rd on tour for distance gained from 2016 – 2017 season.

We use an accelerometer to quantify progress and drive intent by measuring speed, jump height and power output. If you are tech minded and like your training easily quantified then check out the Push Band by Train With Push.

How you can apply this – incorporate basic jump movements into your gym sessions along with some fast rotational work against resistance bands. Just remember to work on your landing mechanics (land soft) to minimise the risk of injury and work up slowly to top speeds for the rotations.

 

Cam working hard on his rotational speed (push band on his arm) 

 

4) Train Posture and Stability

To my knowledge, GravityFit make the only equipment designed to specifically train the deep muscle system responsible for holding posture and stabilising joints. The combination of axial load and immediate feedback system means Cam is always aware of when he is in good posture and what that feels like. We combine using the equipment with simple movements that challenge the ability to maintain balance and posture. This forms part of daily routine that can be done around the house, in the gym and on the range.

How you can apply this – Start training your posture and deep muscle system, preferably using GravityFit equipment and exercises. Your joints and golf swing will thank you for it.

 

Cam is aiming to absorb the landing load softly whilst maintaining stability in spine and shoulders

 

5) Know When to Rest

The physical, mental and emotional demands of a tournament week make it tricky to continue to train with the same volume and intensity as usual. This makes it the ideal time to reduce the intensity and volume of gym work, focusing on posture, speed and mobility. I will often prescribe a watered down version of the usual program, reducing reps, sets and load whilst still focusing on great technique.

How you can apply this – moderate your training load to suit your performance needs. Try doing the heavy stuff earlier in the week, leaving your fresher for the weekend.

Cam making the most of the massage chair in the locker room at CIMB Classic, 2016

 

My recommendations might seem pretty simple, and with good reason; golf is a complex, frustrating and often confusing game. I believe that golfer’s training should be straight forward, easy to implement and repeatable. In the is un-predictable sport, some consistency around physical preparation can go a long way to minimizing variability in performance.

Make your way around the immaculate hard and clay courts at KDV Sport and you will hear three words ringing out again and again from coaches – “Base Balance Posture”. These 3 words encapsulate the philosophy of Ben Pyne, KDV’s Head Coach of Tennis.

“During my time coaching in the Tennis Australia program, I saw the same 3 traits across all of the best players. They had a wide stance with weight on the balls of their feet, always seemed to stay in balance and had great upright posture. You can see that demonstrated at the highest level; Federer is the ultimate example of a player that has perfected Base, Balance and Posture. Roger has had a phenomenal career, consistently performing at the highest level with so few injuries or physical issues. I think that his mastery of Base Balance Posture is one of the main reasons for that.”

Ben, having developed 49 National Champions, many of whom are now making their way on both the ATP and WTA tours, knows a thing or two about working with emerging tennis athletes. For him, Base Balance Posture is about much more than just winning points:

“Once players get the concept and really ingrain it as an automatic part of their game, you see their hitting technique clean up, they become more mobile around the court and dramatically reduce their risk of injury.”

“Our main objective as a tennis academy is obviously to get the best possible tournament performances from our athletes. However we do not have an ‘at all costs’ approach to this; just as important is the goal of developing tennis players that are injury free, move well and possess great technique. This will help ensure a lifetime of enjoyment in the game, whether or not they end up playing for a living.”

 

Below is Ben’s breakdown of the three components:

Base

“This is very simple, essentially we look to establish a wide stance, around 2 shoulders width apart. This forms an athletic stance from which we can move in either direction. Two of the key physical attributes that contribute to the ability to do this are leg / hip strength and ankle stability. To help develop these we work closely with our onsite gym staff, headed up by Ryan Gambin.”

Balance

“Again we look for a simple yet effective strategy; weight on the balls of the feet along with staying low, ideally maintaining even angles at the ankle, knee and hip in order to achieve this. This means the athlete can move to the ball in the most efficient way and be prepared and in position for the next shot. When base and balance are properly established we see the head staying between the feet and the athlete rarely over balancing or finding themselves out of position.”

Posture

“We have recently started working with GravityFit, an Australian company that specialise in the training of posture, spine and joint stability. They have invented several pieces of equipment, 2 of which we use on a regular basis; the TPro and TSensa. These devices give awareness of upper back posture and shoulder blade position whilst providing light resistance to help strengthen the muscles around the shoulder. I find this absolutely key in achieving a solid technique that doesn’t place too much strain on the shoulder, elbow and wrist.

It’s a very effective way of ensuring the athletes are in good posture, which is actually very tricky to coach. So using devices that take care of that feedback is so valuable”.

 

In summary, Base Balance Posture is absolutely fundamental to the teaching philosophy of the coaches at KDV because once mastered, it helps the athletes to achieve better technique and movement whilst preventing injury.

For more information on KDV Tennis check out www.kdvsport.com/tennis/tennis-academy/

To see how GravityFit are working with tennis coaches and players, take a look at https://gravityfit.com/tennisdrills1/

 

The spine has to handle a lot of load in the sport of tennis. Moving laterally whilst striking rotationally in order to move the ball forward means the spine has to cope with significant torque and shearing forces. Add to this the very high number of reps and frequent flexion / extension of all 3 spinal curves, and it’s no wonder that the incidence of injury to tennis player’s backs is high.

In my experience working as a physical therapist with both elite and recreational tennis players in the New York area and around the world, including 3 seasons on the WTA, I’ve seen and treated a host of different spinal injuries. Below I’ve detailed some of the most common breakdowns along with my approach to fixing them and more importantly, preventing repeat injury.

A key component of my process is using a science based training system called GravityFit. The exercises and equipment is the product of revolutionary space research conducted by GravityFit with NASA, amongst others. It’s a very different approach to injury prevention that really addresses the cause and not the symptom of the breakdown. To my knowledge I’m the only practitioner in the world using the system to specifically treat and prevent tennis related injuries, and it’s for that reason that I would like to give you an insight to how and why I use it.

 

Injury Area No.1 – Facet Joint

This is commonly aggravated by the extension component of serve (think arching the back). When there is a weak core, the bones on either side of the vertebrae crash into another and the joints get inflamed and sometimes fractured rendering the area almost completely dysfunctional.

Equipment – GravityFit Core Awareness Belt and Gravity Cap

Technique – Teaching posture, walking under load, training correct hinging and extending movement patterns. Building up endurance in core and deep postural muscles.

 

Applying gentle yet effective load to the spine through the elastic tubing on the Gravity Cap. Core awareness belt giving audio feedback on whether the core is working effectively

 

Injury Area No.2 – Intervertebral Disc

The uncontrolled flexion and extension patterns I mentioned aboe, especially when combined with poor hip flexibility and clumsy, heavy-footed movement makes discs susceptible to annular tears and bulges.

Equipment – GravityFit Core Awareness Belt and Gravity Cap

Technique – Teaching posture, training core control and building endurance, training correct hinging and extending movement patterns. Training improved movement through better footwork. Training the deep postural muscles in the spine that support the discs to absorb compression from the Gravity Cap is especially important.

 

Challenging the ability to hold great posture and spinal ability with lunge and hinge variatons. Always being kept accountable by the Core Awareness Belt

 

Injury Area No.3 – Muscle tears

Sudden changes of direction at high speed from hitting make the abdominals and intercostals (rib muscles) susceptible to tears. This is an unavoidable part of the game and the better you become, the harder you will hit. So it’s really important to strengthen these muscles and the associated joints.

Equipment – GravityFit TPro

Technique – Building stability and strength in mid/upper spine. Strengthening the muscles in the shoulder girdle. Improving upper back and shoulder posture. Moving in to multidirectional training under compressive load.

 

Receiving feedback on spine and shoulder posture under gentle load from the elastic tubing on the TPro.

 

Expecting to go from sedentary lifestyles to charging around the court injury and pain free, with nothing to help us prepare for the spinal load is fanciful at best. I think that it’s more important than ever that we train and treat the spine through gradual and consistent strengthening exercises. Since using the GravityFit tools and exercise techniques, I have been able to correct and prevent injury to tennis playing spines in a much faster and more effective way.

 

Renuka Pinto is an internationally trained and traveled physical therapist with over a decade of experience in sports medicine and manual therapy, working at the highest levels of tennis and cricket.

The nature of tennis as a sport exposes players to the risk of trauma based injury such sprained ligaments and strained muscles, especially around the ankle and knee. Rapidly changing directions, accelerating and decelerating on hard surfaces will always produce a few lower limb injuries. However, many of the upper body injuries related to overuse and instability are most certainly preventable.

In my experience working as a physical therapist with both elite and recreational tennis players in the New York area and around the world, including 3 seasons on the WTA, I’ve seen and treated a host of different upper limb injuries. Below I’ve detailed some of the most common breakdowns at the Shoulder, Elbow and Wrist, along with my approach to fixing them and more importantly, preventing repeat injury.

A key component of my process is using a science based training system called GravityFit. The exercises and equipment is the product of revolutionary space research conducted by GravityFit with NASA, amongst others. It’s a very different approach to injury prevention that really addresses the cause and not the symptom of the breakdown. To my knowledge I’m the only practitioner in the world using the system to specifically treat and prevent tennis related injuries, and it’s for that reason that I would like to give you an insight to how and why I use it.

Essentially I look to train the deep muscle system, which stabilizes the spine and key joints, allowing for more controlled movement and less strain on the joint structures themselves.

 

Shoulder

 Most of the problems I see around the shoulder are rotator cuff and labral tears.

This is mainly due to poor technique relating to the whipping motion of the racket head when speed is generated by high torque of the glenohumeral joint (ball and socket of shoulder).

This can be avoided by improved scapula (shoulder blade) stability at the start of the stroke and body rotation during ball contact. If the muscles around the scapula can’t provide stability to the shoulder then the slack has to be taken up by the rotator cuff muscles in particular. They are left doing a job that they aren’t designed for and will eventually wear out, resulting in pain and injury.

Equipment – GravityFit TPro

Technique – Developing more stability around the scapula through changing the motor patterning using postural feedback and applying appropriate load.

 

Receiving feedback on spine and shoulder posture under gentle load from the elastic tubing on the TPro.

 

Elbow 

The elbow joint is the victim caught between the cross fire of torquing forces generated by the shoulder and wrist joints, largely due to its lack of ability to rotate. Ligament injuries are common due to increased forces on a mistimed ball or from aiming to imparting spin. They are especially common during clay court season due to the slower ball and higher bounce.

Equipment – GravityFit TPro

Technique – Again the preventative solution here is to stabilize the scapula and strengthen the rotator cuff, using the TPro once more!

 

 

 

Different press and hold variations for the key stabilizers of the shoulder with constant postural feedback

 

Wrist

These injuries tend to occur in both hands due to manipulation of the racket head when trying to finding angles and lines, disguising shots or imparting spin. On the dominant forehand arm, we see mainly capsular tears or tendinitis due to overload. On the backhand its usually shear forces that injures the tendons and/or cartilage. Key reasons for the manipulation of the wrist and ensuing injuries both is lack of rotation resulting from weakness and loss of resting curve in the thoracic spine (upper back). If we can strengthen the upper back, it can both stabilize and rotate more efficiently.

Equipment – GravityFit TPro

Technique – This time I use the TPro for a slightly different purpose; establishing neutral curve of thoracic spine which improves range and quality of rotation whilst provides the opportunity to strengthen the deep muscles.

 

Advanced press variations (complexity and load), training dynamic rotation through thoracic spine.

 

In summary, the common injuries I see in the upper body can be largely prevented through improving posture and strengthening the muscles surrounding the scapula and thoracic spine (shoulder blade and upper back). This has the benefit of removing strain from the shoulder, elbow and wrist through reducing torque and improving technique. GravityFit is by far the most effective method I use to achieve this, largely because this is the exact task they were designed for!

 

Renuka Pinto is an internationally trained and traveled physical therapist with over a decade of experience in sports medicine and manual therapy, working at the highest levels of tennis and cricket.

This article is written by Nick Buchan, he owns and runs Stronger Golf in London, U.K.

When it comes to performance training, movement really is our foundation. If we have acceptable ranges of motion at our joints, our strength and conditioning exercises will become more effective – we’ll be able to produce more force and improve injury resilience – in turn they’ll help reinforce appropriate mobility too.

However, mobility is a confusing topic for many amateur golfers, with many clocking up a lot of time doing static stretches, not seeing any improvements and not knowing why.

The problem?

Many of us think we have a hardware problem when we’re really suffering from a software problem.

This is concept both Grey Cook and Charlie Weingroff have talked about at length, but to give you a brief run down:

Hardware – This is a dysfunction that is truly a mobility issue.  It may be stemming from degenerative joints, hereditary issues, tight/stiff muscles, fascial restrictions, etc. In short, think bone, joint, muscle or tissue in general.

Software – The limitation stems from stability and/or motor control issue.  Soft limitations aren’t there due to a structural limitation; they’re there because you don’t have the strength, neuromuscular control, or stability to do the task. Think stability, motor control or weakness.

 

This is where a good assessment is vital, and a good team – if you have a true hardware limitation you will be best off seeing a good Physical therapist or someone that can do manual therapy. That said, I am willing to wager that the vast majority of your tight hamstrings, lower backs, shoulders, etc, are actually software issues.

With that in mind, as a strength coach, I am always looking for ways to help my clients quickly overcome software issues, so we can improve movement and do a better job improving performance measures like strength and power as a result.

We can use various drills and techniques to help improve a pattern or integrate newfound physical capabilities into that pattern, but one of the most effective I have found is using Kinaesthetic feedback.

It’s a bit of a double whammy effect too, as many of these drills create instant improvements to a pattern whilst still allowing movements to be loaded – this reinforces the pattern whilst gives us a strength training effect at the same time!

That’s the sort of time efficiency that pays off hugely in a high skill game like golf, where my job is to give a player the physical tools they need as quickly and effectively as possible so they can get out of the gym and practicing the sport.

 

Exercise 1 – Quadruped hip extension with lumbar feedback:

 

As Dan John says everyone who sits all day needs 3 things – hip flexor stretches, t-spine mobility and rotary stability. Bird-dog and quadruped hip extension drills are our typical interventions for rotary stability – with the quadruped hip extension on elbows being the most basic progression we use at Stronger Golf.

Unfortunately it is also one of the most commonly butchered exercises I see. Fortunately simply placing a foam roller, water bottle or yoga block on the lumbar spine can solve can solve that!

  • Position yoga block on lumbar spine and get back flat to it
  • Here we have also placed a tennis/ lacrosse ball behind the knee, which you must keep in place throughout – this keeps the knee bent, thereby limiting the hamstrings involvement in the exercise.

Many people do this exercise poorly because they view it as a range of motion exercise – extending at the lower back in order to get the moving leg higher. The purpose of the exercise is not however to increase range of motion but to demonstrate a stable low back position in the presence of hip extension. You should aim to stay as stable as possible at the low back – Keep you back in contact with that yoga block/ roller throughout the movement and don’t extend the hip beyond your capacity to do so.

 

 

 

Exercise 2 – RNT (Reactive neuro-muscular training) squats:

 

RNT is a great technique to ‘feed the mistake’ as Grey Cook says and create activation in muscles to clean up a pattern instantly. The idea is to set up a band or similar equipment to pull you further into the mistake. This works really well for things like preventing knee valgus in split-squats and squats and can also be used to aid thoracic extension, overhead reaching and hip hinging.

One of the most common squat defects is having the knees cave in during the squat, often due to poor glute function. Simply adding a mini-band looped around the leg, just below the knee, will create an RNT effect, engaging those glutes and forcing the knees out. This instantly cleans up a poor squat pattern more often than not.

 

 

Exercise 3 – Kettlebell deadlift to wall with Gravity Fit TPro/ TSensa:

 

Gravity Fit have a range of tools I have recently begun using that enable me to create kinaesthetic feedback for my clients in a much greater range of environments/ exercises. One such exercise I really like to use it in is the hip hinge.

The hip hinge is a foundational movement vital to preventing back pain, particularly for golfers where it is how we get into a good golf posture.

A dowel of stick held with three points of contact is the traditional way of teaching this pattern using kinaesthetic feedback, however this has limitations, not least it is hard to teach an individual to create the tension necessary for loading the hinge in the deadlift patterns that are so vital for creating strength and power in the posterior chain and increasing clubhead speed. With the Gravity Fit Thoracic-pro/ T-sense we can fill that gap between hip hinge as a movement pattern and a loaded exercise much more quickly and easily.

– Put TPro/ TSensa on as directed (if using TPro, just don’t grip handles)

– Make sure you can feel pressure on all paddles

– Push butt back to touch the wall whilst still maintaining pressure with the paddles

– Lower arms whilst still maintaining pressure on the outside paddles

– Bend knees as much as needed to get down to the bell

– Grasp bell and stand straight up

– Lower by pushing the butt back to the wall

– Maintain pressure on paddles

 

 

Exercise 4 – Half-kneeling T-spine rotation with TPro

 

Another great use for the TPro is teaching good thoraco-scapular position/ relationship. As a result of modern sedentary lives many individuals struggle with proper positional awareness and motor control of the thoracic spine and scapular. This is often limits upper extremity movement, shoulder external rotation and flexion for example, that is key for both the golf swing and improving strength in key exercises such as the chin-up.

– Put TPro on as directed

– Set-up in a half-kneeling position with a straight line between the shoulders, hips and knee of the back leg

– Make sure you can feel pressure on the spikes in middle and paddles on either side

– Take a step backwards with one leg and lower yourself into a reverse lunge position

– From there simply rotate to one side then the other making sure to keep the chin tucked and pressure on the three paddles throughout

–  The half-kneeling position helps teach disassociation between upper and lower body, whilst the t-pro keeps the core engaged and the neutral scapular/ shoulder position vital to good rotation.

 

 

The patterns above represent some of the most fundamental human movement patterns that you need a firm handle on if you are going to reduce injury risk, increase strength and power or improve performance on the course – indeed, they form the basis of tools like the FMS. Whether you struggle with mobility in these patterns or simply want a way to clean up a movement so you can load that pattern more effectively I recommend you give these drills a go.

If we can quickly and easily sort motor control issues and perfect patterns, your mobility will likely improve much quicker than it ever has, you will be more resilient to injury and your power output will probably improve as well.

This improved movement capacity means your more able to make technical changes in your swing as well as giving you a much wider variety of exercise you can safely and effectively do in the gym, further improving your force output capabilities and further reinforcing mobility.

 

For more information on Nick’s excellent resource for online training, check out is Stronger Golf website

Check out the featured GravityFit equipment here

This article is co-authored with Tony Meyer. Tony is a Golf Australia National Coach and head of high performance for Golf Queensland. He specializes in skill acquisition and movement pattern training.

Nick Randall: Gym work in the winter off-season is great. There’s lots of opportunity to hit the weight room and work on mobility, conditioning, and other physical attributes that regular competitive golf makes it hard to focus on. Being mostly confined to the indoors is also a great chance to work on your swing via training movement patterns.

Improving your movement efficiency and making a positive change can be tricky when trying to play golf. Breaking down old patterns and building new ones is largely incongruent with being target focused and practicing to play for score. That’s why the colder months are the ideal time to separate movement patterns from on-course outcome and really focus on the quality of movement and ingraining better habits. When it comes around to competitive golf season again, everything will be less conscious and more automatic, allowing you to focus on scoring… as opposed to swinging.

 

While coaching at the Australian Institute of Sport golf program, despite favorable year-round weather for golf, my friend Tony Meyer would regularly take squad members into a netted indoor area to make significant changes to their movement patterns.

Tony Meyer: I found that they tended to react to ball flight and direction too much on the range. The players would unconsciously adapt their movement patterns to make the ball do what they wanted, even if it was the exact opposite of what we were trying to achieve for long-term progress. If you remove the outcome, the player can become totally focused on changing the pattern. This also helps with buy-in or compliance with the change.

The worst thing that can happen is for a player to be shown a new movement pattern only to initially see the ball going sideways as a result. Belief in the process of change goes out of the window and regression to old movement patterns is the inevitable result. Getting real-time feedback on the quality of movement is also very important, and it can really help speed up the learning process of a new swing pattern. I like to use training tools and constraints that give the player a strong of idea of how they are supposed to move. It gives them a chance to work it out for themselves without the need for verbal or visual instructions from the coach. I’ve found this to be a very effective way to learn, even if it does involve me saying a lot less in my lessons!

In the Golf Australia and Golf Queensland programs, one of the most popular pieces of feedback equipment we use is the GravityFit TPro. It gives that real-time feedback that’s so effective in training posture and movement patterns relating the individual and their swing habits.

Nick Randall: Based on the recommendations from Tony, I have put together a collection of exercises using the GravityFit TPro in a video below that you can use to train your movement patterns. They are safe, easy to lean, require only one piece of equipment, and can easily be done at home. These exercises are very popular with the PGA Tour pros I train, and they form an important part of their daily exercise routine.

 

For more information on GravityFit and its application to training golf movement patterns, click here.

Start Your Swing Right

All of the quality golf coaches I have spent time with stress the importance of starting your swing with a good movement. They attribute many of their student’s swing issues to poor set up and first move, and spend considerable time and effort in trying to teach and train improvements in these areas.

The takeaway is something that seems easy but is actually surprisingly difficult to repeat on a consistent basis without practicing the correct movement pattern. I’m very familiar with this problem because it happens to me all the time, as you will see in the video clips throughout this article. The footage, taken from a lesson delivered to me by Richard Woodhouse, has been selected to deliver practical examples of how changing set up and early backswing movement can have a really positive effect on the rest of the swing.

 

 

The start of your swing is a bit like hitting a putt towards the hole; if you start it off on the right line, the chances of it going in are greatly increased. If you start your backswing in the right way then better positions will be achieved throughout your swing, leading to a much simpler downswing and more consistent strike. If you start off on the wrong track, it can be a big game of manipulation of various body parts to try and get the club back to the ball.

 

 

In the video above you can see Richard using the GravityFit TPro to firstly help set my right shoulder better. He then asks me to start working a better rotation from my T-Spine and Ribcage, taking the first steps toward making a better start to my swing.  What Richard is aiming to achieve is essentially a backswing that starts with more arm-body connection, moving the arms and body together in the takeaway. All too often people move their arms independently of their body, creating a mismatch and getting off track early.

 

 

As you can see, it’s quite a novel feeling for me to feel rotation from my upper body over a quiet lower body. Richard felt it was important that we established the new feel for an improved movement without club in hand. Even though the change is quite subtle, the presence of a club and golf ball could well distract me from dialling in to the feels of this new movement.

As we moved on it was time to continue rotating to a fully completed backswing from the new and improved connected takeaway. I found it much simpler to complete the backswing, once I was better established in set up and first move. It felt like I was on track and simply had to continue turning and everything would fall into place. So often in the past, I have had the feeling of not knowing when and where to complete my backswing and start the move down.

 

 

Finally you can see in the video below, we put club in hand and got back to a live ball scenario, where we started to see some nice improvements in contact and ball flight. This all stemmed from focusing on doing a better job with key postural muscles that control the shoulder blades and upper back, critical to developing the stability and feel for the arm-body connection. This led to making a better first move from an improved set up position, thus allowing the rest of the swing to work from an improved foundation.

 

 

If you would like to try out the featured drills using the GravityFit TPro, follow these simple steps

1 – Push handles out in front of your body, keeping slight bend in elbow

2 – Stretch tall, feel green spikes in your middle/upper back and shoulder blades on the paddles

3 – Hinge forward into golf posture

4 – Slowly turn chest into backswing, keep arms out in front of body, and maintain pressure on the spikes and paddles.

5 – Keep the lower body quiet as you continue to turn and complete your backsing.

6 – Return the start position and repeat for 10 reps.

7 – Rest for 30 seconds and repeat. You can then go on to introduce a club and ball with the aim of transferring the new move to a full swing scenario.

Hopefully this drill, over time, will have a similar positive effect that it did for me during the lesson with Richard. The aim is to firstly establish great golf posture and then practice that connected takeaway movement detailed above. This should lead to a more complete backswing with good width and turn, which can facilitate a quality downswing move and strike

 

Richard Woodhouse is Director of Instruction at KDV Sport on the Gold Coast, Australia. KDV Sport is a state of the art Golf and Tennis facility that offer facilities and instruction to suit every level of golfer, to find out more click here

For more on the featured GravityFit TPro, click here

Stronger Bones, Better Swing

As the worldwide golfing population ages and becomes more sedentary, an increasing number of people are struggling with bone density issues. Whilst weakening bones can be attributed to many different factors, there are 3 preventable issues that have a strong influence on bone density, especially in the upper body:

1) Loss of muscle strength in the arms, shoulders and upper spine.

2) Lack of weight bearing load through the arms.

3) Poor spine and shoulder posture.

 

These 3 things are also damaging to efficient movement in the golf swing in the following ways:

1) Lack of muscle strength leads to decreased club-head speed. Club-head speed is very strongly correlated with driving distance and scoring average.

2) Lack of weight bearing load leads to a weakened deep muscle system which leaves unstable joints and spines exposed to injury risk.

3) Poor posture leads to inefficient rotational movement, loose arm-body connection and lack of club-face control.

This is worrying from a couple of different perspectives; firstly you are more exposed to injury, which isn’t fun for anybody and certainly doesn’t help your golf. Secondly, playing bad golf can get pretty depressing after a while and packing it in could reduce your activity level further, leading to faster degradation of that crucial bone density.

Here are two very simple and easy preventative solutions that can provide more load to your upper body, helping to strengthen both bone and muscle and improve your posture. The first solution is simply pushing your buggy, using a single arm and switching arms periodically. It’s important to do this with good posture, so feel like you are stretching tall, drawing your spine out of your pelvis. In addition, try to push your shoulder forward, imagining your shoulder blade hugging into your ribcage and holding steady in that position. Pushing your buggy with good posture helps solve 2 of the 3 issues – posture and weight bearing load.

 

 

My second solution is using the GravityFit TPro, which is specifically designed to solve all 3 problems; the backbow provides feedback on posture and encourages you to find and maintain good spine and shoulder position. The exercise tubing gives you both the weight bearing load and enough resistance to assist with increasing muscle strength and endurance, especially in the those key deep postural muscles in the upper spine and shoulder girdle. You can use the TPro for simple walking and arm press movements or you can make it more golf specific and start doing the GravityFit golf exercises that come included in the Swing Kit product. The Swing Kit is essentially a TPro with both strengths of band included, the green bands are best suited to the simple strength work and yellow bands work best in a golf context, especially when practising using the TPro.

 

 

My recommendations for a solid daily program using the Swing Kit is as follows:

Exercise 1 – Arm Press, 3 sets of 12 reps using green tubing

Exercise 2 – Wall Push Up, 3 set of 10 reps using green tubing

Exercise 3 – Split Stance Turn, 2 sets of 6 reps each side, yellow tubing

Exercise 4 – Back Swings, 2 sets of 6 reps, using yellow tubing

You can also take the TPro with yellow bands to the range or chipping green and use it to assist with your practice.

 

This article was co-written with Matt Ballard, short game and putting specialist at Sanctuary Cove GC, Gold Coast, Australia 

Much has been written about the putting yips over the years, with many different proposed explanations. They have been attributed to nerves, anxiety, focal dystonia and even, as Tommy Armour famously put it: “a brain spasm that impairs the short game.”

While the true source of the putting yips remains unknown, what it looks like is very obvious. It’s for that reason — and my lack of neurological training — that I’ll be focusing on the mechanical side of the problem that plagues so many people.

Explanation

What we see here is lead wrist extension and trail wrist flexion. Simply put, the bottom hand takes over the stroke with three main disastrous effects for control of the putter face.

  1. Adds too much loft. Basically, the ball gets slightly airborne straight off the putter face. This compromises the ball roll and changes dynamic launch angle, creating unnecessary backspin. All putters have a small amount of loft built into the design (typically 2-4 degrees) to help lift the ball out of the depression that it sits in on the green, so there is no need to add more loft with your putting stroke.
  2. Toe moves faster than heel. This causes the putter face to close at a rapid rate, leading to pulls or pushes due to the extra timing involved in attempt to square up the club face.
  3. Off-center strike. I also see yippers actually missing the center of the club face more often than not. The same aggressive rise angle of the putter that adds loft can also produce a putt that strikes the ball below the vertical sweet spot on the putter. The subsequent loss in ball energy makes direction and speed issues inevitable.

So we have a trio of unwanted outcomes from this simple fault; the ball jumping off the face and heading left or right with unpredictable speed — not a great formula for holing putts!

We know that for putts to go in the hole, they need to be hit on the correct line with the associated correct speed. Putting is hard and there are narrow margins for success. A positive outcome is a lot less likely with a yippy stroke. What often makes things worse is when the yipper knows the yip is coming, and he or she attempts to compensate for it. That appears to have happened to Ernie Els when missing this tiddler.

 

 

With the anchoring of putters now banned in competitive play, our plausible alternatives are limited to the cross-hand grip, claw grip or some other variation or differing style that aims to reduce the involvement of the wrist. The solution I am going to propose will allow you to keep your regular grip, but instead uses kinaesthetic (touch) feedback to encourage the correct movement.

 

Clarification

Before describing what I’m doing in the video above, it’s important to clarify what I feel should happen in a solid putting stroke. I like to see a slight forward press of the hands (if you have a putter with any offset configuration, as most do) with less extension in the lead wrist and more extension in the trail wrist, as demonstrated below.

From there, I like to see the movement be driven by the rotation of the t-spine (trunk or thorax) as the dominant source of motion as opposed to wrist, elbow or shoulder movement. I feel like many yippers get into trouble from the start with poor posture, hands behind the ball and with a backstroke that is too high. Then we see the classic move into impact as the body stalls and the wrists take over.

 

Solution

Back to the video of me hitting a putt with the bands. The device I’m using is called a GravityFit TPro, and it performs three really useful functions. First, it gives me feedback as to whether I’m in good posture. I believe that having a properly organized spine and shoulder blade position is critical to making a good stroke driven from rotation of the t-spine.

The second benefit I get from the equipment is the feedback on whether I’ve made the movement correctly. If the body stalls out and hands or arms take over, I will lose connection of my shoulder blades with the paddles on either side. It’s like a closed feedback loop, constantly telling me if I’m doing a good job or not with my rotation.

The third function involves the bands. As you can see in the photo below, I loop these around the thumb of the left hand and over the palm of the right hand. This actually wants to pull my left hand in to flexion and right in to extension, which we know is the opposite of what happens when we make a yippy stroke.

 

So now I’m being told if my posture is set right, if I’m rotating properly and I’ve got anti-yip guidance from the bands. My recommendation is do plenty of reps using the TPro away from the golf course, perhaps at home in your living room. When you go to the putting green, start off by hitting 10-15 footers to no target in particular to adjust to the different feels and get used to getting a quality strike. Then slowly make your way to the dreaded short putt range and calmly knock them in.

Like anything that involves a change in technique, it’s going to take a few reps to make a difference. The beauty of using the TPro is you can do it at home — with or without a putter. It’s also going to have a useful side effect of improving your posture, which most of us could benefit from!

For more info on my short game coaching services, drop me an email: mballard@pgamember.org.au

NASA and Your Golfing Longevity

As our lives get longer, we should in theory be getting more years to enjoy golf well into retirement. But this isn’t always the case; too many retirees are being forced to quit the game due to injuries from general wear and tear on the spine and joints.

You would be excused for thinking that the organization that won the space race and put the first man on the moon has absolutely nothing to do with our back, joint injury issues and consequent golfing longevity. But NASA astronauts have been fighting the same musculo-skeletal problems as golfers for years, only in a greatly accelerated manner.

It’s not commonly known that going into space is actually terrible for your spine and joint health. Astronauts, after spending a concentrated amount of time in space, are actually unable to walk off the shuttle when they land. They have to literally be carried off to undergo extensive rehabilitation and often sustain long-term damage to their bodies.

Dr. Carolyn Richardson has spent her working life investigating how gravity affects our health and why this phenomenon occurs in space. Her research with the University of Queensland, European Space Agency and NASA regarding the effect of gravity on our muscles and bones has laid the foundation for finding out why this happens and how to fix it. 

Dr. Richardson found that gravity is the key stimulus that our bones and deep muscle system need to provide stability to our limbs, joints and spine. She termed this stimulus Gravity Sensory Information (GSI), and the lack of GSI in space causes the breakdown of the musculo-skeletal system in astronauts. If spending extended periods of time in space, astronauts need to increase GSI as part of their exercise programs in order to maintain their musculo-skeletal health.

Since we aren’t in the habit of boarding space shuttles, you might still be wondering what this has to do with us golfers. Well, it turns out that our modern sedentary lifestyles are essentially replicating the zero-gravity environment of space that is so damaging to astronauts, although it occurs over a much longer period of time here on Earth. When adding the potentially damaging musculo-skeletal load of performing many hours hitting golf balls and certain gym work, it’s a recipe for injuries to spines and joints.

An increasing number of “everyday” activities and popular training programs are significantly reducing the amount of GSI to our bodies and causing a growing number of joint and spinal problems, particularly back pain. Spending more and more time lying on the couch, sitting with poor posture, driving cars, and doing certain kinds of traditional gym training and repetitive skills training (practicing and playing golf) is reducing GSI levels and causing the gradual breakdown of our bodies.

The GravityFit Exercise Model, developed by Dr. Richardson, is based on the principle that gradually increasing GSI to the body can reverse the process of joint and spine degeneration, restore joint stability and strengthen the deep muscle system to improve performance. GravityFit training involves specific slow and controlled movements in good posture while adding low-load resistance to the limbs and spine to increase GSI levels.

This unique system of exercise and rehabilitation has been developed by Dr. Richardson to protect the body against injury and pain and improve musculo-skeletal health in modern life. While providing postural feedback and adding GSI with some simple equipment, you can start with an easy GravityFit walking program and work all the way up to fully functional and complex whole-body movements. From there you can even start getting golf specific, training your posture and golf movement patterns.

 

I have been using the GravityFit equipment and exercise model for 5 years with my golfers. After seeing the incredibly positive impact it had on the players, I came onboard as an ambassador in 2017 to help spread the message to the wider golfing population.

One of the best examples of how effective the training can be is when I used it with Jonas Blixt to rehab from a career-threatening back injury to a PGA Tour win in just six months. I initially tested Jonas’ baseline posture, stability and balance. Then I prescribed a very simple bodyweight program that used the GravityFit equipment throughout. It helped bring awareness to his posture and movement quality while training his deep stabilizer muscles — especially in his lumbar core (think abs and low back). As he improved in the basic exercises and started experiencing less back discomfort, we gradually progressed the movements and added load to provide more Gravity Sensory Information and balance requirement.

 

Now pain-free and with a recent PGA Tour win under his belt, Jonas is one of about a dozen U.S. Tour pros who use the GravityFit equipment on a daily basis to keep awareness of good lumbar core while working on shoulder stability and training golf movement patterns. Its simple and intuitive application seems to capture the imagination of golfers, while its scientific backing and quality ensure it isn’t simply a short-term purchase that gets discarded after a few uses.

Click here for more information on GravityFit and how it can help prolong your golfing lifespan. The tailored options for equipment and detailed instructional videos ensure that you can get the right gear and use it with correct form and technique.