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In this video, I use one of my students as an example of how trail shoulders mobility can affect the golf swing. It is important to note that many structural factors can affect the golf swing. For the golfer in this video, the trail shoulder is just one example of how we can address physical limitations to improve the swing.

The drill I give this student utilizes the weight of the club to not only stretch the shoulder but to also start to retrain the motor patterns to get the club in a better position to start the downswing.

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Dan Gaucher is a Teaching Professional at Saratoga National Golf Academy. Multiple time U.S. Kids Golf top 50 instructor. TPI certified and passionate about helping golfers play their best! Dan also has experience in the health and fitness industry which has allowed him to further understand the biomechanics of the body and how it correlates to the golf swing. Dan enjoys being a student of both the human body and the game of golf. Dan works with players of all abilities from beginners to aspiring professionals.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. geohogan

    Sep 11, 2018 at 9:58 pm

    If a golfer can turn the palm of his trail hand toward the sky at the top of the BS
    then he can shallow the club. Simply keep the palm facing the sky.

    Gravity drop and the hands shallow the club.

  2. Greg

    Sep 11, 2018 at 9:04 am

    Is there a role for the “Feel the stretch” device? The most important stretch in golf. feelthestretch.com

  3. tom stickney

    Sep 10, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    Great points here…most teachers fail to understand the role of the shoulder girdle and how it can influence your transition.

    • ogo

      Sep 10, 2018 at 6:27 pm

      It’s imperative that the shoulder and chest structure be evaluated to determine the range of motion of the arms. Most instructors ignore this physical aspect of the golfer.

      • geohogan

        Sep 12, 2018 at 12:41 pm

        The deltoid has three distinct functions that correspond to the three bands of muscle fibers. Contraction of the anterior fibers flexes and medially rotates the arm by pulling the humerus towards the clavicle

        If trail deltoid contracts OTT will result. (humerus toward the clavicle)
        Palm of trail hand facing the sky disengages the deltoid.

        If a golfer can hold the proverbial ‘waiters tray’at top of BS, there is no need of physio.

  4. Alex

    Sep 10, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    Don’t understand the logic here. Joe can rotate the right shoulder properly with only the right hand on the club, but has trouble when the left hand is applied. Then you conclude that his right shoulder is limited, when it seems that the problem is using both arms together. What am I missing?

    • Geoff

      Sep 11, 2018 at 9:19 pm

      Joe does not rotate properly with right hand only drill …. and it’s a drill to start lightly stretching and to benchmark his progress. Pause vid at 2:41 …. he gets maybe 2-3 more degrees of ER (guessing) …. but he has to “cheat” it with abduction and horizontal abduction. Also keep his elbow extended which mechanically lengthens biceps to further pull into ER. The “cheat” is the point … it stretches the internal rotators (cuff, pecs, biceps). Again at 2:41 … no way he gets his left hand on the grip.

      Dan’s take home point in a 4 min video is “don’t prescribe motion and positions before checking for anatomical roadblocks”

      Dan is TPI Certified and routinely refers out to PT, AT, nutritionists, and Medical TPI professionals. They work out kinks and Dan goes to work with radar based LM’s, 3D motion analysis, and an approach that matches the learning style of every client …. even my son who is one of the toughest nuts to crack.

  5. mike

    Sep 10, 2018 at 10:22 am

    Range of motion is too often taken for granted . Bravo on reminding us that everyone has individual muscular – skeleton issues .
    Very frustrating trying to do something your body isn’t capable of .
    Good instruction will take these into consideration and find a way to fix or work around

    • ogo

      Sep 10, 2018 at 6:25 pm

      If the pecs are too bulky the chest will interfere with arm positions in the back and downswing. That’s what it looks like.

  6. Kevin

    Sep 10, 2018 at 3:10 am

    Would have been helpful to see an example of good external rotation (maybe yours) to compare with Joe’s. We have no idea watching the video how short of optimal is Joe.

  7. ogo

    Sep 9, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    Excellent, excellent biomechanical analysis and remedy for internal and external shoulder rotation. This is the kind of instruction that is so beneficial for this forum.

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Instruction

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

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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.

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How I train tour players

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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

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Me and My Golf: Top 5 putting grips

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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.

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