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.
The value of video
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.
Davies: How control the right hand at impact
Alistair Davies shows you how to work the right hand correctly through the hitting zone with a great drill and concept.
Shawn Clement: Dealing with injuries in your golf swing, lead side.
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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