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.
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
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
We here at GravityFit have made an exciting signing for 2018. Fresh off a stint working as a trainer on the PGA Tour, Nick Randall has taken up a permanent role with GravityFit, who specialise in Spinal Sports Performance and Rehab, focussing especially on golf. Nick will be developing business opportunities, delivering education and supporting coaches, physios and trainers that are using the equipment in their coaching, training and treatment of golfers.
Nick will be bringing his experience of working at the elite level with Golf Australia and multiple tour players in the US, including Aussie young gun Cam Smith. “I’ve used the GravityFit products for years, ever since they came and delivered seminars at Ramsay McMasters’ symposium and various Golf Australia high performance camps. The message that they delivered made perfect sense to me – stabilise the spine and joints whilst training good posture. The quality of the tools, ease of application and transference to golf movement patterns made it a no brainer to include in my training toolbox.”
Ive been involved in the company for a number of years now, mostly just helping out at the start and providing feedback on the early version of the tools. Last year when I wasn’t on tour, I helped develop the content for the golf coach’s course and started doing some consulting. They are awesome people to work with and so the decision to take a more involved role and spend decent time at home on the sunny coast was an easy one. I travelled for work 26 weeks out of last year, and whilst it was a fun experience, it’s also really nice to be less jet lagged and actually play some golf myself, instead of watching all of the time!”
Nick is most excited about helping to get GravityFit tools and education in the hands of teaching pros around Australia. “I’ve seen first hand how posture and movement patterns improve really quickly using GravityFit. This seems to ring true at the highest level and for the club golfer. Jonas Blixt made huge strides forward in his lumbar core control especially which had a really positive effect on his low back pain. On the flip side, I’ve seen 15 markers with severe mobility restrictions make very quick improvements in their upper back / shoulder rotation by learning to turn more effectively and connect their arms to their body better.”
“From a coaching perspective, it seems to make the whole teaching / learning experience easier and more enjoyable for both parties. We have a long legacy of the physical complementing the technical when it comes to Aussie golf coaching. I would love to help contribute to that relationship moving forward via delivering education either through official courses for PGA members of more informal workshops at golf clubs, with the clientele of the coach in attendance.”
If you have any questions about GravityFit and the products and education they deliver, please take a look at gravityfit.com/golf or contact us at email@example.com
Another great article from GravityFit Ambassador Nick Randall – click here to read part 1 of the article
In the follow up to his frst article, GravityFit Ambassador Nick Randall continues explaining the importance of shoulder stability in golf.
Many practitioners tell us what a wonderful resource our ebook ‘Beyond the Core to Whole Body’ is. In it, Dr Carolyn Richardson explains the role that Gravity plays in our everyday life – and the risks that we are running with our health if we bow down to Gravity.
The ebook also outlines some simple ways to incorporate GravityFit principles into your day to day activities – to wake up those Gravity muscles and get them working.
Here’s the first page..
The ebook is included with many of our kit purchase, or can be purchased from our Shop or by clicking here
A great three days was had by all at the GravityFit course held recently on the Sunshine Coast. With participants from Ireland, England, UK, New Zealand and Korea, as well as from around Australia, there was a lot of experience in the room. Great feedback was received from all of the course attendees. The practical sessions using the GravityFit Exercise Tools were a great learning opportunity for everyone.