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.