Connect with us

Instruction

Short on time? Improve your game at the microwave

Published

on

Having grown up in the Midwest, I less than fondly remember this time of the year, when the post-Thanksgiving weather would force me into the practice net in my basement until March. We might catch the odd day or two that would let us get outside to hit balls (or even play a few holes), but most of that stretch was spent doing whatever practice we could do indoors. This was coupled with the pain of watching early-season PGA Tour events from warm-weather locales in Honolulu, Phoenix, Palm Springs, Los Angeles, Pebble Back and San Diego, leaving us chomping at the bit.

Here in Florida we can work year round, but I still have players who I coach that are successful in other parts of their lives and have limited time to work on their golf swings or short game. They might find only one day a week to hit balls because of business and family requirements, and being married for 25 years and raising two college age kids… trust me, I get it! This is where I give my players homework away from the course to help them improve. I call it “microwave work,” which are drills I give my players to practice when weather, life or a job keeps them from getting to the course, specifically, when they are in the kitchen heating something up.

So let’s get started. What is something that you would normally put in the microwave?

I am guessing that most answers are coffee and/or leftovers. How do you spend your time while your item warms up? If it is coffee, you probably stand there with your eyes half open in full zombie mode. What if you used that time to work on your golf game? If you use your time wisely, you will see a faster change in your game for the better.

Below are four of the basic drills I give my players.

Get in the Lineup

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 2.10.12 PM

This is a good one for players with an overly active left hand that is passive and drags the club through.

To perform the drill, setup with your lead foot against the cabinets like you are going to hit a mid-iron into the microwave. Take a three-quarter backswing and turn through slowly until the back of your left hand hits the edge of the counter flush and flat (it helps to drape a hand towel over the edge of the counter so your hand makes contact with the towel instead of the hard cabinet). Hold and press there firmly for a count of 10.

Keep doing sets of these until the timer goes off. It is also a kinematic feedback drill and you will feel “after effect” when you finish, such that if you took a swing you would feel like you are still pressing against the counter when you reach impact.

Put a Bounty on Bad Putting

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 2.12.28 PM

Full disclosure: I didn’t make this one up.

This is from one of my tour players who had his head moving all over creation when he came to me for help. We fixed all the other things in his stroke and went after the simple task of keeping his head still. One day, due to bad weather over the summer, he was stuck inside and wanted to hit putts and work on keeping his head static throughout the stroke.

He came up with the paper towel drill.

This one is easy! Get a paper towel roll and put one end on the refrigerator and the other on your forehead at setup. Then take practice strokes with your hands together focusing on how it feels to keep your head in place as you take a stroke. This is a huge error I see in about 7 out of 10 tour players. It is amazing how many golfers retreat their head at impact. Practice this and you will find your stroke produces many more solidly hit putts in the new season.

Getting Hip

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 2.14.14 PM

One of the things that drive instructors crazy is keeping their students’ rear ends from thrusting forward at impact and losing pelvis and spine angle. This is called early extension. Among other things, it is one of the natural results of the shoulders trying to seek the same orbit as the hips and turn at the same level.

To perform this drill, turn your back to the counter-top and put both cheeks against it. Now cross your arms and turn back and through to a balanced finish and hold. While you are turning, fight to keep the right hip on the counter as you go back. More importantly, keep the left hip on the counter when going to the full finish and hold. Do as many reps as you can before the timer dings! You will find, when done correctly, that you finish with your right shoulder slightly lower than the left.

How to Get Cleaner Floors While Fixing a Bad Takeaway

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 2.15.39 PM

A huge backswing issue that I often see is active hands that rotate the clubface way too much early in the start of the backswing. This throws the clubhead behind the hands when the shaft reaches parallel to the ground creating all kinds of bad things.

Here is a fun drill that is also a huge challenge because it is fraught with disaster if you fail.

Grab a coffee cup from the cabinet before you start microwaving, and fill it a third of the way full of water. Take your setup and grip the handle on the mug so that the cup is hanging downward. Use as close to a real grip as you can. The water should be very near the lip of the cup at this point. Now, from this setup position, take a backswing to about 8 o’clock with your hands and stop. If you do it correctly in one piece, you won’t spill any water! If you spin the mug — look out, water everywhere! If you really want danger, use milk or orange juice!

This drill will encourage a solid one piece takeaway without any fast moving parts and the club face and hands will be positioned correctly early in the backswing. Here is what it looks like from face on (above) and down the line (below) when it is done correctly.

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 2.16.36 PM

And done incorrectly.

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 2.17.47 PM

These are just a few of the Microwave Drills that I give my players to do when they are in the kitchen. Pick one, or do them all during the winter and watch your game come alive in the spring!

Your Reaction?
  • 6
  • LEGIT1
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

If you are an avid Golf Channel viewer you are familiar with Rob Strano the Director of Instruction for the Strano Golf Academy at Kelly Plantation Golf Club in Destin, FL. He has appeared in popular segments on Morning Drive and School of Golf and is known in studio as the “Pop Culture” coach for his fun and entertaining Golf Channel segments using things like movie scenes*, song lyrics* and familiar catch phrases to teach players. His Golf Channel Academy series "Where in the World is Rob?" showed him giving great tips from such historic landmarks as the Eiffel Tower, on a Gondola in Venice, Tuscany Winery, the Roman Colissum and several other European locations. Rob played professionally for 15 years, competing on the PGA, Nike/Buy.com/Nationwide and NGA/Hooters Tours. Shortly after embarking on a teaching career, he became a Lead Instructor with the golf schools at Pine Needles Resort in Pinehurst, NC, opening the Strano Golf Academy in 2003. A native of St. Louis, MO, Rob is a four time honorable mention U.S. Kids Golf Top 50 Youth Golf Instructor and has enjoyed great success with junior golfers, as more than 40 of his students have gone on to compete on the collegiate level at such established programs as Florida State, Florida and Southern Mississippi. During the 2017 season Coach Strano had a player win the DII National Championship and the prestigious Nicklaus Award. He has also taught a Super Bowl and Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, a two-time NCAA men’s basketball national championship coach, and several PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players. His PGA Tour players have led such statistical categories as Driving Accuracy, Total Driving and 3-Putt Avoidance, just to name a few. In 2003 Rob developed a nationwide outreach program for Deaf children teaching them how to play golf in sign language. As the Director of the United States Deaf Golf Camps, Rob travels the country conducting instruction clinics for the Deaf at various PGA and LPGA Tour events. Rob is also a Level 2 certified AimPoint Express Level 2 green reading instructor and a member of the FlightScope Advisory Board, and is the developer of the Fuzion Dyn-A-line putting training aid. * Golf Channel segments have included: Caddyshack Top Gun Final Countdown Gangnam Style The Carlton Playing Quarters Pump You Up

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Jadon

    Jan 5, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    Oh wow, the cup drill. I need this badly.

  2. Golfraven

    Jan 1, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    Love it. Wonder why I just spent the cash on the Swing trainer tools.

  3. Al385

    Jan 1, 2015 at 2:39 am

    These tips are so good. They are also great to practice while I’m in business travels.

    Thanks so much!!!

  4. Tj

    Dec 30, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    Great Instruction right there, Wish everyone could read this, Including the members at my club.

  5. MCK

    Dec 30, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    This is awesome and useful.

  6. Brody

    Dec 30, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    Creative article, I enjoyed it!

  7. Tom Stickney

    Dec 30, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    You should do the cup one at AJ’s! I miss destin!!! Best 7 years of my life.

  8. Jeff B

    Dec 30, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    agreed, i am able to golf year round when my back is in good shape but these should be a fun way to stretch and get back in the swing groove before i go back out there.

    fun read!

  9. Ian

    Dec 30, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Great article!
    These look like fun, although the climate where I live allows for year round golf, I will definitely have to give these a try.

  10. TR1PTIK

    Dec 30, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    I like these a lot since I currently live in Missouri and am going through exactly what you described in the first paragraph! Excellent tips, and I would think that you could modify the first drill a little bit to work on weight transfer at the beginning of the downswing – or “bumping” the hips to the lead side as some would describe it.

Leave a Reply

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Instruction

Tip of the week: Let the left heel lift for a bigger turn to the top

Published

on

In this week’s tip, Tom Stickney gives a suggestion that would make Brandel Chamblee proud: lift the left heel on the backswing for a bigger turn.

Your Reaction?
  • 0
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK4

Continue Reading

Instruction

How I train tour players

Published

on

There is a lot of speculation about how tour pros train, and with tantalizing snippets of gym sessions being shared on social media, it’s tempting to draw large conclusions from small amounts of insight. One thing I can tell you from my time on tour is that there isn’t just one way that golfers should train, far from it. I’ve seen many different approaches work for many different pros, a strong indicator is the wide variety of body shapes we see at the top level of the game. Take for example Brooks Koepka, Mark Leishman, Ricker Fowler, and Patrick Reed. Put these four players through a physical testing protocol and the results would be extremely varied, and yet, over 18 holes of golf there is just 0.79 shots difference between first and last.

This example serves to highlight the importance of a customized approach to training. Sometimes common sense training programs backed by scientific evidence simply don’t work for an individual. One of the athletes I work with, Cameron Smith, over the course of a season recorded his slowest club-head speed when he was strongest and heaviest (muscle mass) and fastest club-head speed when he was lightest and weakest. That lead me to seriously question the widely accepted concept of stronger = more powerful and instead search for a smarter and more customized methodology. I’ll continue to use Cam and his training as an example throughout this article.

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

What I’m going to outline below is my current method of training tour pros, it’s a fluid process that has changed a lot over the years and will hopefully continue to morph into something more efficient and customized as time goes on.

Assessment

I have poached and adapted aspects from various different testing methods including TPI, GravityFit, Ramsay McMaster, Scott Williams and Train With Push. The result is a 5-stage process that aims to identify areas for improvement that can be easily compared to measure progress.

Subjective – This is a simple set of questions that sets the parameters for the upcoming training program. Information on training and injury history, time available for training, access to facilities and goal setting all help to inform the structure of the training program design that will fit in with the individual’s life.

Postural – I take photos in standing and golf set up from in-front, behind and both sides. I’m simply trying to establish postural tendencies that can be identified by alignment of major joints. For example a straight line between the ear, shoulder, hip and ankle is considered ideal.

Muskulo Skeletal – This is a series of very simple range of motion and localized stability tests for the major joints and spinal segments. These tests help explain movement patterns demonstrated in the gym and the golf swing. For example ankle restrictions make it very difficult to squat effectively, whilst scapula (shoulder blade) instability can help explain poor shoulder and arm control in the golf swing.

Stability and Balance – I use a protocol developed by GravityFit called the Core Body Benchmark. It measures the player’s ability to hold good posture, balance and stability through a series of increasingly complex movements.

Basic Strength and Power – I measure strength relative to bodyweight in a squat, push, pull and core brace/hold. I also measure power in a vertical leap and rotation movement.

At the age of 16, Cam Smith initially tested poorly in many of these areas; he was a skinny weak kid with posture and mobility issues that needed addressing to help him to continue playing amateur golf around the world without increasing his risk of injury.

An example scoring profile

Report

From these 5 areas of assessment I write a report detailing the areas for improvement and set specific and measurable short terms goals. I generally share this report with the player’s other team members (coach, manager, caddie etc).

Training Program

Next step is putting together the training program. For this I actually designed and built (with the help of a developer) my own app. I use ‘Golf Fit Pro’ to write programs that are generally split into 3 or 4 strength sessions per week with additional mobility and posture work. The actual distribution of exercises, sets, reps and load (weights) can vary a lot, but generally follows this structure:

Warm Up – foam roll / spiky ball, short cardio, 5 or 6 movements that help warm up the major joints and muscles

Stability / Function – 2 or 3 exercises that activate key stability/postural muscles around the hips and shoulders.

Strength / Power – 4 or 5 exercises designed to elicit a strength or power adaptation whilst challenging the ability to hold posture and balance.

Core – 1 or 2 exercises that specifically strengthen the core

Mobility – 5-10 stretches, often a mixture of static and dynamic

An example of the Golf Fit Pro app

Cam Smith has followed this structure for the entire time we have been working together. His choice would be to skip the warm-up and stability sections, instead jumping straight into the power and strength work, which he considers to be “the fun part.” However, Cam also recognizes the importance of warming up properly and doing to his stability drills to reduce the risk of injury and make sure his spine, hips and shoulders are in good posture and moving well under the load-bearing strength work.

Training Sessions

My approach to supervising training sessions is to stick to the prescribed program and focus attention firstly on perfecting technique and secondly driving intent. What I mean by this is making sure that every rep is done with great focus and determination. I often use an accelerometer that tracks velocity (speed) to measure the quality and intent of a rep and provide immediate feedback and accountability to the individual.

Cam especially enjoys using the accelerometer to get real-time feedback on how high he is jumping or fast he is squatting. He thrives on competing with both himself and others in his gym work, pretty typical of an elite athlete!

Maintenance

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. I will often prescribe a watered down version of the usual program, reducing reps and sets whilst still focusing on great technique. Soreness and fatigue are the last thing players want to deal with whilst trying to perform at their best. It’s quite the balancing act to try and maintain fitness levels whilst not getting in the way of performance. My experience is that each player is quite different and the process has to be fluid and adaptable in order to get the balance right from week to week.

Equipment

Aside from the usual gym equipment, resistance bands, and self massage tools, the following are my favourite bits of kit:

GravityFit – Absolutely the best equipment available for training posture, stability and movement quality. The immediate feedback system means I can say less, watch more and see players improve their technique and posture faster.

Push Band – This wearable accelerometer has really transformed the way I write programs, set loads and measure progression. It’s allowed the whole process to become more fluid and reactive, improved quality of training sessions and made it more fun for the players. It also allows me to remotely view what has happened in a training session, down to the exact speed of each rep, as demonstrated in the image below.

Details from one of Cam’s recent training sessions

Examples

Below are some of the PGA Tour players that I have worked with and the key areas identified for each individual, based of the process outlined above:

Cam Smith – Improving posture in head/neck/shoulders, maintenance of mobility throughout the body, increasing power output into the floor (vertical force) and rotational speed.

Jonas Blixt – Core stability, hip mobility and postural endurance in order to keep lower back healthy (site of previous injury). Overall strength and muscle growth.

Harris English – Improving posture in spine, including head/neck. Scapula control and stability, improving hip and ankle mobility. Overall strength and muscle growth.

Recommendations

My advice if you want to get your fitness regime right, is to see a professional for an assessment and personalized program, then work hard at it whilst listening to your body and measuring results. I’m sure this advice won’t rock your world, but from all that I’ve seen and done on tour, it’s by far the best recommendation I can give you.

If you are a golfer interested in using a structured approach to your golf fitness, then you can check out my online services here.

If you are a fitness professional working with golfers, and would like to ask questions about my methods, please send an email to nick@golffitpro.net

Your Reaction?
  • 73
  • LEGIT9
  • WOW1
  • LOL1
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB1
  • SHANK5

Continue Reading

Instruction

Me and My Golf: Top 5 putting grips

Published

on

In this week’s Impact Show, we take a look at our top 5 putting grips. We discuss which grips we prefer, and which putting grips can suit you and why.

Your Reaction?
  • 1
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK2

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending