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5 things you can learn from Cameron Smith’s physical preparation

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Cam Smith, who just finished T3 at The Northern Trust, 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. At age 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 only 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 three 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 around the same speed he swings driver. This contributed to Cam placing third 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 minimize 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 the immediate feedback system means that when using the GravityFit equipment 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 his ability to maintain balance and posture. This forms part of daily routine that can be done around the house, in the gym or 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.

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Nick Randall is a Strength and Conditioning Coach, Presenter and Rehab Expert contracted by PGA Tour Players, Division 1 colleges and national teams to deliver his unique brand of golf fitness services. 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.

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Robin

    Aug 28, 2018 at 10:38 am

    As a former boxer and marine ,I burned out my body years ago.
    I have to many aftermarket parts in me know. To do any of that work with out a part snapping.

  2. doesnotno

    Aug 28, 2018 at 8:50 am

    “If implemented properly these will not help your golf”

    Missing the word “only”?

  3. Tom

    Aug 27, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    I recommend 3 Advil, 2 beers and 2 cigars over 18 holes…..works great!

  4. fox_todd

    Aug 27, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    As an exercise physiologist I appreciate the simplicity. Too many try to make it too complicated. Great write up.

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Instruction

Kyle Berkshire’s long drive wisdom wins!

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This one is a doozie! So many awesome elements to take away from Kyle Berkshire and implement them immediately in your golf swing for effortless power in the swing. From the set up with strong grip to the timing mechanism to start the action and give it a heavy flow, to the huge backswing and massive load in the ground in the transition to the deepest delivery towards the target there is in the sport! Watch and learn long ball wisdom right here.

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Stickney: Correctly auditing your ballflight without technology

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One of the biggest advances in golf instruction, in my opinion, was the adoption (by the masses) of the “new ball-flight laws.” While this information was first identified in “The Search for the Perfect Swing” as well as “The Golfing Machine” books it was not truly taught in the mainstream by teachers until the last decade. In fact, there are still millions of golfers who are still in the dark as it pertains to how curvature is created.

Thankfully, launch monitors have become more popular and now most people have some type of ability to hit balls using Trackman, etc., and this has helped inform the masses as to what is really happening during the impact interval. In today’s article, I want to show you how to audit your ball-flight if you DO NOT have access to a launch monitor. And if you’ll ask yourself these few simple questions you will have a much better idea as to what is happening and why your ball is doing what it’s doing!

“The New Ball-Flight Rules”

  • The ball begins mostly in the direction of the face angle direction at impact (Face Angle)
  • The ball will curve away from the path with a centered hit on the face (Path)
  • The amount of curvature at the apex is mostly determined by the difference in direction between where the face points at impact and the direction of the path at impact (Face to Path)
  • The impact point on the clubface can render the above obsolete or exaggerate it depending on where it’s impacted on the face (Impact Point)

Now that you know and understand the rules, here’s how you audit your ball’s flight without a launch monitor present…

Find your Impact Point Before Making Any Other Judgements

Before we begin delving deeply into your ball’s flight, let’s first stop for a second and figure out what our impact bias is currently. Yes, everyone has an impact bias—some are more toe-based while others are more heel-sided. It’s just the way it works and it’s mega-important. If you don’t have control of your impact point then all else is moot.
In order to do so, first hit a few balls on a flat lie and spray the face with Dr. Scholl’s spray, then take a look at what you see on the face, where are the marks? I’m not asking you for perfection here, because if you hit it slightly on the toe or slightly on the heel then you’re ok.

However, if your average clustering of shots is extremely biased on the toe or the heel then stop and figure out WHY you are hitting the ball off-center. Until you can contact the ball in the center of the face (within reason) then you will not be able to control your ball’s curvature due to gear effect.

If your impact point clustering is manageable, then ask yourself these three questions to truly understand your ball’s flight…

Number 1: Where did the ball begin?

I want you to draw a straight line from your ball through your target as you see in the left photo in your mind so you now have a “zero” reference. If you need to create this visual on the practice tee then you can put a rope or some string on the ground between the ball and the target creating a straight line from the ball through the rope and onward to the target itself.

Now back to the shot above, as you can see at impact, this player’s ball started slightly LEFT of his target-line—as shown by the arrow in the left frame which depicts the face angle at impact. In the right frame, you can easily see the ball beginning a touch left right from the beginning.

The numbers prove what we discussed earlier

  • The face direction at impact was -2.8 degrees left of the target
  • The ball’s launching direction is -1.7 degrees left of the target

As we know the ball begins mostly in the direction of the face and since the face was left of the target the ball also began slightly leftward as well.

So by paying attention to your ball’s starting direction as it pertains to the “zero line” (or where you’re trying to go) you can guess where the face is pointing at impact.

Number 2: Which direction did the ball curve?

Now, take a second and look at the right frame: We see that the ball curved leftward which means the path had to be more rightward than where the face was pointing at impact. If the ball begins where you want it to start and curves the way you want then you have the face and path in the correct place!

If we want to audit the numbers just to be sure, then let’s take a deeper look:

Trackman shows that the club path was 1.9 degrees right of the target and we just saw that the face was -2.8 degress left of the target on this shot. With centered impact anytime the face direction at impact is left of the path the ball will curve leftward. The negative spin-axis of this shot of -7.9 tells us that the ball is moving to the left as well.

If you want the ball to curve to the left then the path must be further right than that and vice-versa for a fade…pretty simple, right?

Number 3: How Much Did the Ball Curve at The Apex?

Question three is an important one because it helps us to understand what our face to path relationship is doing.

Curvature is created when the face and path point in different directions (with a centered hit) and the bigger the difference between the face and path direction the more the ball will curve…especially as you hit clubs with lower lofts.

Every player wants to see a certain amount of curvature. Some players want very little curve, thus their face to path numbers are very close together while others want more curve and the face to path numbers are larger. It does not matter what amount of curvature you like to “see” as the player…all flights will work. Think Moe Norman on one extreme to Bubba Watson on the other.

To close…

First, you must hit the ball in the center of the face to have a predictable curvature if you hit it all over the face then you invoke gear effect which can exaggerate or negate your face to path relationship.

Second, where did the ball begin? Most players whom draw the ball fear the miss that starts at their target and moves leftward (as depicted in the photo above) this is a FACE issue. The face is left of the TARGET at impact and thus the ball does not begin right enough to begin at the correct portion of the target.

If you hit the ball and it starts correctly but curves too much from right to left then your path is to blame.

Third, if your ball is curving the correct direction then your path is fine, but if it’s doing something other than what you want and you are starting the ball where you want then your path is either too far left or right depending on which way the ball is curving.

Fourth, if your ball curvature at the apex is moving too much and your ball is starting where you want then your path is too far left or right of your face angle at impact exaggerating your face to path ratio. The bigger the difference between these two the more the ball curves (with a centered hit) with all things being equal.

Samples to view

This is a path issue…the ball began correctly but curved too much rightward. Don’t swing so much leftward and the face-to-path will be reduced and the ball will curve less.

This is a great push draw…the ball began correctly and curved the correct amount back to the target

This is a face issue at impact…the ball did not begin far enough to the right before curving back leftward and the target was missed too far to the left

Take your time when auditing your ball’s flight, and I believe you’ll find your way!

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Clement: Should you hinge your wrists early or late in the backswing?

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Today’s video is a big one too! So many are wondering when to let the wrists hinge in the backswing; too early and you cut off too much arc and loose width; too late and you throw your center off-kilter and ruin your contact and direction! This video gets you dialed!

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