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6 qualities to look for in a golf fitness trainer

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Finding the right trainer can be challenging, but they are called “personal” trainers for a reason. Trainers are there to guide you to your personal fitness goals safely and effectively, and to do so they also need to fit with your personality. Finding a competent golf fitness coach is an even tougher task due to the lack of availability.

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of personal trainers in America will jump 24 percent by 2020. As the field grows, clients will need to do more research to find the right trainer to fulfill their needs.

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Below are my six best rules to follow when researching a golf fitness trainer. There are numerous trainers out there to choose from, but only a small percentage are the right ones for you. Keep these six qualities in mind when doing your research for your trainer. www.MYTPI.com is a great place to start when looking for a golf fitness trainer in your area.

Assessment

Any good trainer knows the old saying, ”If you do not asses, it is just a guess.” With that being said, upon your first visit your trainer should have you fill out a Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire or PAR-Q, discuss your long- and short-term goals and administer a complete physical assessment. The assessments is a very important tool in building a safe and effective plan of attack. TPI golf fitness trainers offer an in-depth, 16-point physical assessment that can identify the restrictions in the body that can adversely affect the golf swing. Without conducting an assessment the trainer has no idea where to start your program, and any exercise prescribed there forth is just a guess.

Patience

Patience is the key to a good client-trainer relationship. Trainers should understand that what works for one client may not work for another. Trainers should also be able to find a comfortable pace for their clients. Some clients may progress at a faster rate, while others may require more coaching and assistance. There is no cookie-cutter plan that fits everyone and a good trainer finds the right pace for the individual.

Communication

Your trainer should be able to explain things to you on the phone and teach you how to complete tasks without physically being present through every workout. A good trainer should also be able to give you “homework” so you can stay on the program between your scheduled sessions such as a pre-round routine to have you warmed up prior to a workout, range session or round of golf.

Professionalism

While it’s important to maintain a close relationship with a client, there also needs to be a level of professionalism. A trainer might carry your water or get you a towel if need be, but they should remain focused on the task at hand, your fitness goals. Cell phone calls and texting should remain at a minimum. If a personal call or text is totally necessary, then permission to do so should be asked. Lastly, the clothes your trainer wears should be simple and preferably a staff uniform. The attention should be on the client, not on what the trainer is wearing…. or not wearing to show off his or her physique.

 Education 12

Trainers should be able to show you an appropriate fitness certification for their area of expertise. To become certified, personal trainers must pass an exam through accredited organizations such as the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) or the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), and in our case TPI (Titleist performance Institute). Most exams cover exercise physiology, program design, nutrition and functional anatomy. Each certification will offer different areas of expertise, but they are usually up to date with the latest fitness trends and research. The trainer should also assure the client that they do not and will not teach golf; they are just there to fix the physical issues so the PGA professional can do their job more efficiently. Many trainers try to be a “jack of all trades,” but sadly most are masters of none.

Personality

Once you have established that you want a trainer, you can start looking for them. A good way to research a trainer is to reach out to a few via the internet and see who offers a complimentary fitness evaluation to help you get acquainted with the trainer. www.MYTPI.com offers a directory of its certified professionals, as well as their credentials. As a client, you want to feel comfortable and trust that your trainer has your best interests in mind. You should ask for references and testimonials, and most trainers will be flattered to show you the good work that they have done in the past. Call the references so you can get a feel for the type of commitment the trainer will have toward helping you achieve your goals.

For any additional questions or comments please feel free to contact me via email at [email protected]

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James has been a certified personal trainer for more than 30 years with his focus in the areas corrective exercise, post rehab work and golf fitness. For the past 10 years, he has specialized entirely in golf fitness and peak performance. Golf fitness is his love and passion, and his clients' success has been his greatest achievement. -Dir. of Golf Fitness Arcola Golf Club - Paramus, NJ -Dir. of Golf Fitness North Jersey Country Club - Wayne, NJ -Dir. of Golf Fitness Preakness Hills Country Club - Wayne, NJ -TPI Level 3 Golf Fitness Professional -TPI Level 2 Golf Coach -K-Vest 3-D Level 2 Technician -National Academy of Sports Medicine CPT -National Academy of Sports Medicine Golf Fitness Specialist -National Academy of Sports Medicine Corrective Exercise Specialist

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Robb Gibb, PGA

    Jan 9, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    Ignore the comments above. Go spend time with James, he’s worth every penny.

  2. Other Paul

    Jan 4, 2016 at 1:44 am

    Half of TPIs tour players have back pain. Makes me want to stay away from them. I was assessed by them, i had back pain and the exercises didnt help.

  3. RoGar

    Dec 28, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    Eat right and exercise, stay away from money hungry trainers!!!

  4. RoGar

    Dec 28, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    There is no such thing as “golf specific exercises”!!! I’ve played football and baseball in high school, and was fortunate to play baseball in college, D1… With running, jumping, and simple exercises none of them which included bosu, medicine, or yoga balls or elastic bands, let alone a trainer. Eating right and simple exercise goes a long way…Plus have been playing golf for 20 plus years to a +3 handicap…

  5. KoreanSlumLord

    Dec 26, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, and Jack Nicklaus would not have had the same success had they not had their TPI Certified trainer.

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Dennis Clark: Hitting from the turf

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I have seen as much as 4-5 MPH increase in clubhead speed when my students hit form a tee compared to hitting off the turf. Why?  Fear of FAT shots.

First question: Are you better hitting off a tee than on the turf?

Next question: When you play in a scramble and you have the option of dropping in the fairway or slightly in the first cut, do you choose the rough-especially when hitting over water or sand?

The answer to all these the same: Because the vast majority of golfers do not have a bottom of the swing arc safely in front of the golf ball consistently.

Consider a PGA Tour event, Korn Ferry, Champions Tour, LPGA Tour, whatever…You might see missed fairways, missed greens, hooks, blocks, etc. but we rarely, if ever, see a FAT shot. They simply do not hit the ground before the golf ball. Of course, there are exceptions, into the grain on short pitches, for example, but they are just that-rare exceptions. On the other hand, go to any golf course and watch average golfers for a while. Fat shots are not uncommon. In fact, they, or the fear of them, dominate most golf games.

The number one mistake I have seen on the lesson tee for over 35 years is unquestionably a player’s inability to control the bottom of the golf swing. I have seen everything from hitting 4 inches behind the ball to never reaching the bottom at all It has been my experience that that hitting fat shots is the number one flaw in most golf swings.

Let’s start with this fact: elite level players consistently reach a swing bottom (low point) some 3-4 inches in front of the golf ball-time after time after time. This happens for a variety of reasons, but the one I’d like to look at today is the position of the golf club at impact with the golf ball.

The club is leaning forward, toward the target, the hands are ahead of the club head, never straight up over it, never behind it-always, always leaning forward is the only way to consistently bottom out in front of the golf ball.   

A player cannot hit a ball consistently from the turf until he/she learns this and how to accomplish it. For every golfer I teach who gets into this position, I might teach 50 who do not. In fact, if players did not learn how to “save” a shot by bailing out on the downswing (chicken wing, pull up, raise the handle, or come over the top, (yes over the top is a fat shot avoidance technique) they would hit the ground behind the golf ball almost every time!  Hitting better shots from the fairways, particularly from tight lies, can be learned, but I’m going to be honest: The change required will NOT be easy. And to make matters worse, you can never play significantly better until you overcome the fear of hitting it fat.. Until you learn a pattern where the bottom of the swing is consistently in front of the ball, the turf game will always be an iffy proposition for you.

This starts with a perception. When first confronted with hitting a golf ball, it seems only natural that an “up” swing is the way to get the ball in the air-help it, if you will. The act of a descending blow is not, in any way, natural to the new player. In fact, it is totally counterintuitive. So the first instincts are to throw the club head at the ball and swing up to get the ball in the air; in other words, it makes perfect sense. And once that “method” is ingrained, it is very difficult to change. But change if you must, if your goal is to be a better ball striker.

The position to strive for is one where the left wrist (for a right-hander) is flat, the right is slightly dorsiflexed, and the handle of the golf club is ahead of the grip end. Do your level best to pay attention to the look and feel of what you’re doing as opposed to the flight of the golf ball. FEEL that trail wrist bent slightly back, the lead wrist flat and the hands ahead. It will seem strange at first, but it’s the very small first step in learning to hit down on your tight lies. If some degree of that is not ultimately accomplished, you will likely always be executing “fit in” moves to make up for it. It is worth the time and effort to create this habit.

My suggestion is to get on a Trackman if possible to see where you’re low point actually is, or perhaps you may just want to start paying close attention to your divots-particularly the deepest part of them. I’m sure you will get into a pattern of bottoming out consistently in front of the ball when you begin to learn to get the hands ahead and the club head behind. And best of all, when this becomes your swing, you will lose the fear of hitting the turf first and be free to go down after the ball as aggressively as you like.

Ok, so how is this accomplished? While many players are looking for a magic bullet or a training aid which might help one miraculously get into a good impact position, I dare say there is not one. It is a trial and error proposition, a learn-from-the-mistakes kind of thing achieved only through repetition with a thorough understanding of what needs to be done. The hardest thing to do is IGNORE the outcome when learning a new motor skill, but you must do it. A couple of things you might try:

  • Start with 30-50 yard pitch shots, paying close attention to the hands leading at impact. Again ignore the outcome, look only at the divot.
  • Hit a TON of fairway bunker shots. Draw a line in the sand 3-4″ in front of the ball and try to hit it.
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What you can learn from the rearview camera angle

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We often analyze the golf swing from the face-on view or down-the-line camera angle. However, we can also learn how the body moves in the swing from the rearview or backside view.

When seeing the swing from the rearview, we can easily see how the glutes work. The trail glute actually moves back and around in the backswing. This means the glute moves towards the target or towards the lead heel. Note the trail glute start point and endpoint at the top of the backswing.

To some, this may seem like it would cause a reverse weight shift. However, this glute movement can enable the upper body to get loaded behind the ball. This is where understanding the difference between pressure, and weight is critical (see: “Pressure and Weight”).

This also enhances the shape of the body in the backswing. From the rear angle, I prefer to have players with a tuck to their body in their trail side, a sign of no left-side bend.

This puts the body and trail arm into a “throwing position”, a dynamic backswing position. Note how the trailing arm has folded with the elbow pointing down. This is a sign the trailing arm moved in an efficient sequence to the top of the backswing.

Next time you throw your swing on video, take a look at the rearview camera angle. From this new angle, you may find a swing fault or matchup needed in your golf swing to produce your desired ball flight.

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How to stop 3-putting and start making putts

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When we are 3-putting we are ‘stuck in the box’. This means that when we are standing over the putt the second before we make our stroke everything happens to ‘go downhill.’ When this happens, depending on your playing level, things can become a bit erratic on the putting surface.

When a 3 putt happens, it is typically because you failed to do something before you made your stroke. The large majority of my 3 putts happen when I am not completely SOLD on the line of my putt, aka not committed. Questioning anything over the ball will lead to 3 putts.

Here is a breakdown/checklist on how to approach the green and get your ball in the cup without hesitation.

1. It starts with the approach shot into the green and the decision of direction you make to enter the hole. Scan the entire green with your eyes on the walk-up. Left to right and right to left. Look for a few seconds before you step onto the putting surface. This helps determine the high side and the low side, or if the green is relatively flat. Don’t be picky, just look and make a decision.

2. Once you get to the ball, mark it. Take 3 steps behind your ball mark. Now you must pick a line… Left, Center, or Right of the cup. (Skip step 3 if you know the line) It should take seconds but for those that are not sure it will take longer. Understand that every putt has a statistical level of difficulty. So to increase the odds, players must avoid putting in the unsure mind, and take the time to figure out a line. I also find that people who are 3 putting are overly confident and just not committed aka too quick to putt.

3. To commit, you must find the angle of entry into the cup. Walk up to the hole and look at the cup. How is it cut? Determine if it is cut flat or on a slope angle. This will help you see the break if you are having a hard time. Then determine how much break to play. Cut the hole into 4 quarters with your eyes standing right next to it. Ask yourself, which quarter of the cup does the ball need to enter to make the putt go in the hole?

I encourage using the phrases ‘in the hole’ or ‘to the hole’ as great reinforcement and end thoughts before stroking the ball. I personally visualize a dial on the cup. When my eyes scan the edges, I see tick marks of a clock or a masterlock – I see the dial pop open right when I pick the entry quadrant/tick mark because I cracked the code.

Remember, the most important parts of the putt are: 1.) Where it starts and 2. ) Where it ends.

4. To secure the line, pick something out as the apex of the putt on the walk back to the mark. Stand square behind the ball mark and the line you have chosen.

5. To further secure the line, place your ball down and step behind it to view the line from behind the ball. Don’t pick up the ball mark until you have looked from behind. When you look, you need to scan the line from the ball to the cup with your eyes. While you are scanning, you can make adjustments to the line – left, right or center. Now, on the walk into the box, pickup the mark. This seals the deal on the line. Square your putter head to the ball, with feet together, on the intended line.

6. To make the putt, look at the apex and then the cup while taking your stance and making practice strokes to calibrate and gauge how far back and through the stroke needs to be.

7. To prove the level of commitment, step up to the ball and look down the intended line to the apex back to the cup and then back to the apex down to your ball. As soon as you look down at the ball, never look up again. Complete one entire stroke. A good visual for a putting stroke is a battery percentage and comparing your ‘complete stroke’ to the percentage of battery in the bar.

8. Look over your shoulder once your putter has completed the stroke, i.e. listen for the ball to go in and then look up!

If you find a way that works, remember it, and use it!

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