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Strong, Flexible Core = A Safe, Solid Swing

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Rotation in golf is a fundamental skill. You know, standing and spinning from the core and using the hips as a counter balance and power producer. How many of you had, or still have, slice issues when it comes to your golf swing? A full shoulder turn is an essential and it’s something many golfers cannot do consistently. When the upper and lower body move in a synchronized way, you create the optimal power position for the arms and shoulders. This permits a golfer to make solid contact with the ball. Easy math? For some, maybe. Adding Pilates to this equation has results that benefit beyond this equation — for golfers at every level.

When it comes to their swing, some golfers don’t separate their upper from their lower body. Others don’t have sufficient hip rotation, and still more are eluded by what’s know as the “X Factor” — getting the shoulders about 90 percent rotated. Rotation provides more speed and more power to a golf swing. Learning to swing from the core offers many benefits, an important one is strain and torque reduction for the back and spine. Your core muscles stabilize the spine and pelvis. Golfers who engage their oblique muscles earlier don’t experience as much residual back pain later on. And here is one rule: strengthen and stretch your core, specifically your lower back and abdominals. Ignore these muscles before and you will pay the price later.

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Pilates exercises for the core are fairly well known. Upon casual observation, they look like the ones you might do in a gym class. Please believe me when I say that they are not, and shouldn’t be. They are (or should be) more controlled, detailed and difficult than anything you’ve ever done before. They should employ a breath pattern that assists and empowers the movement. Mat exercises are good, although I would caution you to not simply jump into a class or watch a video to start. Bad habits begin with bad practice. Find an instructor and take a lesson or two. Learn how to use your muscles correctly and safely, and employ them in an order that is aligned and correct.

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Remember, your abdominal muscles act as stabilizers and should be active during a golf swing. When these muscles aren’t strong enough, stress is then places on other muscles and this can cause injury. Golfers swing from one side only, which uses the same muscles over and over again, and it’s usually their dominant side. This upsets the balance in the body, which is another vital reason to perform Pilates exercises.

Pilates exercises work both sides of the body and help to equalize strength. Flexibility increases the range of motion, the golf swing included. Want to play longer into the season and more safely? Strengthen and stretch. I know guys don’t mind the former, but have an abject aversion to the latter. That brings me to the great thing about Pilates exercises for golf. The stretch is built in to the program. You get both during an hour’s session, so it’s efficient too.

I’ve illustrated a few exercises here that work for core strength, flexibility and rotation for golf fitness. They are also not put into the context of an individualized program, so one size does not fit all here. Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, so we will have a few more weeks of indoor golf swing scrutiny before the thaw.

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After 20 years of practicing Pilates, Lori became a BASI PILATES-accredited instructor for mat and all apparatus in 2012. She also has an Equinox Mat Pilates certification. Lori is also an author, freelance writer and retired attorney. Her appointment-only studio, SWEATSTYLE PILATES, is located in Great Neck, N.Y. SWEATSTYLE PILATES is the only New York-area studio to offer BASI training for golf performance on the Balanced Body Avalon System. Contact her studio at SWEATSTYLEPILATES@gmail.com, or 516.644.8808.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Roger

    Mar 14, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Lori,
    This article (this informative Article!)
    has been posted a week with no comments!
    I gained significant flexibility and strength
    and hence a smoother swing last year by working with a Chiropractor and then working on a stronger more flexible mid body.Huge improvement! ps head up the next article 50+?? Gain 17 Yards

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Instruction

Golf 101: What is a strong grip?

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What is a strong grip? Before we answer that, consider this: How you grip it might be the first thing you learn, and arguably the first foundation you adapt—and it can form the DNA for your whole golf swing.

The proper way to hold a golf club has many variables: hand size, finger size, sports you play, where you feel strength, etc. It’s not an exact science. However, when you begin, you will get introduced to the common terminology for describing a grip—strong, weak, and neutral.

Let’s focus on the strong grip as it is, in my opinion, the best way to hold a club when you are young as it puts the clubface in a stronger position at the top and instinctively encourages a fair bit of rotation to not only hit it solid but straight.

The list of players on tour with strong grips is long: Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Bubba Watson, Fred Couples, David Duval, and Bernhard Langer all play with a strong grip.

But what is a strong grip? Well like my first teacher Mike Montgomery (Director of Golf at Glendale CC in Seattle) used to say to me, “it looks like you are revving up a Harley with that grip”. Point is the knuckles on my left hand were pointing to the sky and my right palm was facing the same way.

Something like this:

Of course, there are variations to it, but that is your run of the mill, monkey wrench strong grip. Players typically will start there when they are young and tweak as they gain more experience. The right hand might make it’s way more on top, left-hand knuckles might show two instead of three, and the club may move its way out of the palms and further down into the fingers.

Good golf can be played from any position you find comfortable, especially when you find the body matchup to go with it.

Watch this great vid from @JakeHuttGolf

In very simple terms, here are 3 pros and 3 cons of a strong grip.

Pros

  1. Encourages a closed clubface which helps deloft the club at impact and helps you hit further
  2. It’s an athletic position which encourages rotation
  3. Players with strong grips tend to strike it solidly

Cons

  1. Encourages a closed clubface which helps deloft the club at impact and can cause you to hit it low and left
  2. If you don’t learn to rotate you could be in for a long career of ducks and trees
  3. Players with strong grips tend to fight a hook and getting the ball in the air

 

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Clement: Driver lesson to max out distance and help you get fit properly

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This is an essential video on how to get you prepared for a driver fitting at your local Club Champion or favorite golf shop or store. I will be showing you two essential drills that we use at Wisdom In Golf, which will get you in the right focus for your driver fitting session which will also give you way more accuracy and consistency out on the golf course. What you should be looking for before your fitting session is the consistency of the golf ball hitting the center face of the driver and your ability to maintain an ascending angle of attack to your target.

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Clement: How to use the legs in the golf swing

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Shawn Clement’s Wisdom in Golf has been going against mainstream instruction for the last 40 years. Before that, we had the Snead Squat, and the teachings of Bobby Jones and Jack Nicklaus and Wisdom in Golf has taken it from there while others were too busy nipping and tucking all the talent and natural ability out of the game through video analysis. Those teachings showed up in the ’80s, we have theorized on what to do with our body parts and we have examined under a microscope what the leg work of the PGA Tour and LPGA tour players have. We taught “resist with the legs and coil upper body against the lower body” and paid a heavy price both physically and mentally. Then we said “stable lower body,” then finally, just a couple of years ago, we start saying to “let the hips turn” in the backswing.

Well, we have been doing our own thing and blazing a trail for our 115, 000 followers, and because your Human-machine is free of wires and strings, it knows what to do if you give it a clear task. CLARITY IN YOUR TASK will get you the consistency in the movement and it is important for your mind to understand so you know how to let things happen! Enjoy this video on proper leg work in the golf swing and enjoy the practice in your backyard with the easy drills we provide you!

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