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A Guide to Golf Fitness for Teens

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In this series of five articles, I will be offering guidelines for golf-specific physical activity aimed at five different golfing demographics:

This article covers the physical activity that’s best for teens interested in the game of golf, a period in which many changes start happening in the body. Hormones go crazy, which normally leads to growth spurts, acne and unpredictable mood swings amongst a whole host of other adaptations.

A teen’s body often feels strange, ungainly and uncomfortable to live in. Combine this self consciousness with a lifestyle that is increasingly centered around computers, phones and school work, and the solid upright posture that was demonstrated during their preteen years can rapidly disappear.

poor posture

The increasing use of mobile phones is slowly dragging the posture of teenages forward, in and down.

As trainers and golf coaches, we like to see good posture not only from a golf swing mechanics point of view, but also to ensure proper functional movement of the spine and the major joints in the body. A sloppy standing and seated posture will almost always be reflected in a golf swing with funky compensatory movements and poor control in basic gym exercises.

The first stop for any young teen who comes into either our golf academy or Australian state program is a postural analysis, followed by education and prescription of corrective exercises. It might not be glamorous or particularly fun at first, but we consider it absolutely essential for future development.

training posture

Randall working with an elite golfer on deep core control using pressure bio-feedback.

Once some postural education has been carried out, we move on to the basic gym exercises: push, pull, squat, lunge and brace. We prescribe an even balance of these exercises to ensure equal development and good awareness and control of the body in movement.

At first, these exercises use just bodyweight or very light loads, and almost always come with a high volume of repetitions. As mentioned before, the body is still growing throughout this period and it isn’t advised to repeatedly load the skeleton with heavy weight. The objective at this point is not to build a muscle-bound freak who pounds the ball 300 yards. We are still very much in the phase of developing a well-rounded athlete who has great body awareness, control and resilience to injury. We also recommend continuing to play other sports, as this will help develop coordination, joint stability and cardio-vascular fitness.

SLPP21

Mastering the fundamentals of gym movements is really important in the teenage years.

Neglecting the pillars of physical development — postural awareness, an introduction to the gym and participation in sports outside of golf — can lead to some worrying adaptations. “Reverse upper spine” and “crunch factor” are two fairly gruesome-sounding movements that we see leave their mark on the bodies of teen golfers on a regular basis. They are both attributed to poor body awareness and/or lack of strength when swinging the golf club. Lateral curvatures in the spine and injured shoulders and wrists are all too frequently the result.

adaptation 3

A teenager displaying an adaptive shortening of the muscles in the right side of the body from hitting too many practice balls.

The best practice is to see a good, golf-specific trainer or physio in your area who can set you down the right path. In the mean time, click on the image below to get access to a basic bodyweight posture and functional movement program that will get you started.

Exercise guides for this program are available on the Golf Fit Pro app. Check out the app and a host of other golf fitness programs, products and services here: www.golffitproshop.com

Light Program

Click to enlarge.

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Nick Randall is a Strength and Conditioning Coach, Presenter, Rehab Expert and Massage Therapist contracted by PGA Tour Players. Nick is also a GravityFit Brand Ambassador. He is working with them to help spread their innovative message throughout the golf world and into other sports.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Ball

    Jun 5, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    The last pic of the boy’s right shoulder dip:

    That’s a perfect body for golf! Why are you criticizing it? He’s built himself to get to that place! Don’t ruin it by trying to balance it back! He’s a golfer! This is what happens, and how you want it to be.

    • Eh

      Jun 5, 2015 at 9:06 pm

      Actually, repeated use of a single side of the body can result in injuries due to the drastic strength gap between the two halves in the long run.

    • TR1PTIK

      Jun 5, 2015 at 11:58 pm

      I really hope you’re kidding. There is nothing healthy about a posture that is so out of whack. You may think that it’s the perfect body for golf and something to strive for, but I guarantee that anyone who fails to address muscular and skeletal issues such as those depicted will have their golfing careers cut short.

      You seem to be very naïve and uneducated on the subject so please refrain from posting such ridiculous comments in the future.

  2. Ball

    Jun 5, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    First pic:

    He had a really good view, didn’t he?

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The value of video

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In the age of radar and 3-D measuring systems, video analysis has somewhat taken a backseat. I think that’s unfortunate for a few reasons. First of all, video is still a great assist to learning, and secondly, it is readily available and it can be accessed continually.

Of course, it has limitations, that is a given. It is ultimately a 2-D image of a three-dimensional motion. The camera cannot detect true path, see plane, and can be misleading if not positioned properly. That said, I still use it on every lesson, because, in my experience, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

Things like posture, ball position, and aim can all be seen clearly when the camera is positioned exactly as it should be. In swing observations such as maintenance of posture, club angles, arms in relation to body, over the top, under, early release can all be a great help to any student.

But the real value is in the “feel versus real” area! None of us, from professional to beginner, can know what we are actually doing. The very first reaction I get upon viewing, is “wow, I’m doing that?” Yes, you are. You did NOT pick up your head as you thought you were doing, you ARE lifting well out of your posture, you are NOT coming “over the top”, your aim is well left of where you think you’re aiming, your club is pointing well right of your aim point at the top of the swing, your transition is excessively steep, your lead arm is very bent at impact, the clubhead is past your hands, your wrists are cupped or bowed and on and on!

Some of these positions may be a problem; some may be irrelevant. It’s all about impact, and how you’re getting there that matters. The chicken wing that is causing you to top the ball may very well be the result of a very early release, or a steep transition, or too much waist bend etc. The weight hanging back on the rear leg may be the result of the club so far across the line at the top, and so on.

I never evaluate video without knowledge of ball flight or impact. If one were to observe a less-than-conventional swing, perhaps a Jim Furyk, with knowing how he put matching components together, it might seem like a problem area. Great players have matching components, lesser players do not! IMPACT is king!

I have a video analysis program, as I’m sure your instructor, or someone in your area, does as well. It can only help to take a good, close slow motion look at what is actually happening in your swing.  It takes very little time, and the results can be massively beneficial to your golf swing.

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Davies: How control the right hand at impact

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Alistair Davies shows you how to work the right hand correctly through the hitting zone with a great drill and concept.

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Shawn Clement: Dealing with injuries in your golf swing, lead side.

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Happy Father’s Day weekend and U.S. Open weekend at none other than Pebble Beach weekend! Whoa, cannot wait to see the golf action today!

In this video, we talk about how to deal with hip, knee and ankle injuries to your lead side as this one is PIVOTAL (pardon the pun) to the success of any kinetic chain in a human. This kinetic chain is a golf swing. Now, what most of you don’t get is that you were born with action; like a dolphin was born to swim. Just watch 2-year-olds swinging a club! You wish you had that swing and guess what, it is in there. But you keep hiding it trying to hit the ball and being careful to manipulate the club into positions that are absolutely, positively sure to snuff out this action.

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