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How gymnastics helped my golf game
Chelsea Adams is a former competitive gymnast turned junior tournament golfer. She resides in sunny Florida where she works tirelessly on her game.
The slogan for USA Gymnastics is “Begin here. Go anywhere.” Whoever came up with that phrase is absolutely right. My background in gymnastics helped turn me into the golfer and overall athlete that I am today.
I was five years old when I had my first gymnastics class. It started with a recreational class and transitioned into competitive team practice. For the next eight years, the gym was literally my home away from home. I practiced five days a week for four hours per day. I grew up in an environment where discipline and hard work were expected from children.
I had Olympic dreams and only missed practice when I was sick or injured. I never complained about the conditioning because I knew that my body had to be strong enough to withstand the difficult skills and routines. Gymnastics is one of the greatest sports to develop speed, coordination, flexibility, agility, power, strength and grace. In my opinion, it’s better than any traditional workout regimen because the exercises revolve around lifting your own body weight. The movements gave me a great sense of body and air awareness.
When I started training the higher-level skills, I sustained some injuries and decided it was time for a fresh start. I have a passion for sports and needed to find a new outlet to channel my athleticism. Golf came as a suggestion from my mom, whose father was an avid golfer. The golf swing requires a lot of core and upper-body strength and I thought it would be a good fit. I decided to take the plunge and get a lesson with the local pro. I fell in love with golf after I hit my first ball. I knew that this was the sport for me and I was determined to become a great golfer.
My years of gymnastics training taught me how to focus and practice with a purpose. I always make sure I go to the range, putting green or chipping area with a plan. It’s never advisable to go to the range or short game area and hit golf balls without a target. You will benefit a lot more from having a practice agenda for the day.
My understanding of lag in the golf swing was enhanced because of a skill I performed on the uneven bars. While doing giant swings on the bars, one of the things you have to do toward the bottom of the swing is called a tap. This is when you arch your back and then quickly kick your feet over your head in order to gain momentum. To me, that is exactly what lag in the golf swing is. It’s a whipping motion that is performed in an effort to gain speed near the impact zone. I don’t think I would have understood lag as well as I did without making that connection.
Finally, one of the biggest benefits of playing golf as a former gymnast is the ability to drive the ball far. This is a huge advantage especially amongst girls. Having shorter approach shots into greens provides a better opportunity to get closer to the pin and make more putts. What can be better than that?
Golf is a great sport because it can be played throughout your entire life. There’s always something different to work on and it provides a constant challenge. That’s the beauty of the sport.