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More Distance Off the Tee (Part 2 of 3): Lower Body Training

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The lower body in the golf swing is the engine that makes everything run. Swinging without it is like attempting to drive a car without an engine. Catch a downhill and sure… it may roll for awhile. But as soon as you encounter a hill, you stop moving. It’s kind of like most amateur’s golf swings. They compensate OK for awhile and think they’re making progress with their totally upper body driven golf swing. Then they lose it.

Related: More distance off the tee Part 1 (Upper Body Training) 

Losing your swing is not as unthinkable or shocking as many people in the golf industry would like you to think. It’s certainly not as dramatic or difficult to fix, either. As long as you are neglecting to use your lower body in creating the rotation necessary to swing the club and the rotary power to make sure the ball goes somewhere consistently, you are doomed. You will live on the roller coaster of good and bad rounds, found and lost swing thoughts and many lost golf balls. But hey, at least you’ll get a lot of strokes in your next club championship, right?

If you haven’t already read about the four major areas necessary for rotation in the golf swing and taken the tests to see how you do on them, that is what you need to do right now before reading any further. If you have looked at your rotational abilities and you are doing OK, then let’s continue on.

When it comes to creating power from the ground via the lower body, it’s all in the legs. The test that’s easiest to use when figuring out how much “pop” you may have is the vertical jump test. Average PGA Tour players jump between 18-22 inches, while LPGA players are between 16-20 inches. Long drive competitors often jump over 30 inches!

It’s simple to make an assumption that vertical leap has something to do with how much power a player can generate. In fact, the R-value that we have found with this relationship is above 0.85… for all you statistics buffs out there. The reason this occurs is because vertical leap is the simplest forms of assessing a person’s ability to generate ground reaction force, which propels them upward.  If you look at the force plate data in golfers, it is very clear that one of the critical components in generating club head speed is also the ability to create larger ground reaction forces.

So if you look at your vertical and you can only jump 13 inches, you probably have some power to gain. Conversely, if you jump 30 inches and only swing 95 mph, there are probably some other issues that you need to address (technique, upper body power, sequencing, equipment etc). But if you are that golfer with a less than impressive vertical leap, check out a couple of the exercises below to start working on your lower body’s ability to generate power. As with all power training, increasing your base level of strength will also help with exercises such as squatting, deadlifting and all other variations of lower body strength training.

For the sake of this article, I am going to assume you’re already doing all that and give you three of my favorite drills that we use with our golfers to improve their ability to generate better lower body power in the golf swing. Remember, no more than six in a set. Try to go all out on every rep.

180-Degree Jumps

The key here is to load into the inside of your loading foot and try to explode up as high as you can. When you land, control the deceleration and then explode back up into the air as high as you can.

Caveman Throws

This is a great option for those of you who would like to avoid high impact exercises like jumps. Triple extension is the single most powerful move we have as athletes. When we extend at the ankles, hips and knees in a coordinated and powerful movement, the force and speed that can be unleashed is quite impressive. Have fun with this one and just make sure you get out of the way of the ball.

90-Degree Box Jumps with Slam 

This one is for all you higher-level athletes out there who want to really get after it. Slam the ball on the outside of your foot to increase your load into the ground and then explode up onto the box as high as you can.

If you have knee issues, I would recommend avoiding the jumping exercises above and sticking to lower-impact exercises. There are, of course, lots of other options to increase your lower body power, but these are some of the most effective and simple to integrate. Enjoy!

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Chris Finn is the founder of Par4Success and a Licensed Physical Therapist, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Titleist Performance Institute Certified Medical Professional and trained to perform Trigger Point Dry Needling in North Carolina. He is regarded as the premier Golf Fitness, Performance & Medical Expert in North Carolina. Since starting Par4Success in 2011, Chris has and continues to work with Touring Professionals, elite level juniors & amateurs as well as weekend warriors. He has contributed to numerous media outlets, is a published author, a consultant and presents all over the world on topics related to golf performance and the golf fitness business.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Kit Lefroy

    Feb 9, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    A word of caution – 180 degree jumps and box jumping are potentially dangerous for seniors or anyone with knee problems. Great power exercises, but be careful.

    • the dude

      Feb 9, 2018 at 1:00 pm

      yeah…not to mention if you “catch” your foot on the box while going up and across….you could fall right on your head….and break ……your pride.

  2. Randy Bernard

    Feb 9, 2018 at 11:29 am

    Good stuff, Chris! One question: In the slam before the box jump, why doesn’t the slam begin with a squat, to fully engage the glutes and the quads? (Just to be clear, I don’t mean that the starting position is a squat but that the first motion is to squat, then explode up into full extension, then slam the ball.)

    • Chris Finn

      Feb 10, 2018 at 1:54 pm

      Thanks Randy. The slam starts extended as much as possible to increase the force that is applied through the outside leg as much as possible before the jump takes place. Because of stretch shortening principles, the more force you can apply through the tendons and soft tissue into the ground prior to the concentric explosion phase the more energy the athlete will have available to exert into the ground as they push up into the jump. By starting with more of a rotation into the hip as you squat instead of just a standard sagittal plane squat, it is more multi-planar and pre-loading the rotary sling that is necessary to complete a rotational jump. Let me know if this makes sense. If not we can chat further. Great question! – Chris

      • Randy Bernard

        Feb 17, 2018 at 7:57 pm

        Thanks, Chris. That all makes sense, now that I see the rotational part of the slam. I think I was probably moving (i.e., looking) too fast the first time and missed that. I’ll give it a try next time at the gym here in Asheville.

  3. The dude

    Feb 8, 2018 at 8:08 pm

    Why do people give this a shank???

    • CB

      Feb 9, 2018 at 1:37 am

      Because you never saw and, never will see, guys like Colin Montgomerie do it, and he’s still playing great, so why does anybody ever need to do any of these at all

      • The dude

        Feb 9, 2018 at 3:51 am

        Haha!…..fail

        So …. Mrs Doubtfire is your standard huh?,,,,it’s obvious you have never trained your body to perform better…you’d be pleasantly surprised if you did.

        • CB

          Feb 9, 2018 at 9:32 pm

          No thanks, I don’t to end up breaking my knees or my back or ribs or whatever like all them super athletes. I’d rather have a bit of a belly, feel relaxed, play fairly OK, make decent money, win a major or two and chill like Jason Dufner. And then have a career in the Senior circuit like Colin. I’d be OK with that. I don’t want to be fake like Eldrick and try to hump all them fake ladies and have no back or legs left and be left lonely. No thanks

        • Ross

          Feb 10, 2018 at 10:07 am

          Monty is one the best ball strikers about and always has been

          Monty is another name for God

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The Wedge Guy: Manage your lay ups

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Having written a blog and responded to hundreds of questions about wedge play, one question I seem to get very often is something like this:

“On very short par 4s or when I lay up on par fives, and have a 30-50 yard pitch shot, I have a problem spinning the ball enough to make it stop”, or “I have a problem controlling my distance. What can I do?

My answer to these is always the same, and it’s kind of like the old joke where the guy goes to the doctor and says, “Hey Doc, it hurts when I do this”, to which the doctor replies, “Then stop doing it.”

The mid-range or “half wedge” is one of the hardest shots in all of golf to hit to your expectations. Each one is slightly different, which makes it very difficult to groove the precision you expect. I strongly suggest the alternative – playing to your full swing wedge distances when you are facing a short par four or hitting your second on a par five.

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For each of us, we should have our “comfort zone” swing with each of our wedges, which produces pretty reliable yardage nearly every time. And with just a bit of practice and trial, it’s not all that hard to be able to “dial in” additional reduced yardages by gripping down on each wedge a precise amount. I actually wrote a book in the early 2000s called “The SCoR Method”, which explained in detail how to achieve this level of precision with your wedge play. Maybe I should put that book back in print, huh?

I’ve long been a proponent of carrying a full complement of scoring clubs to optimize your short-range performance. In my own game, for example, from anywhere between 70 and 117 yards, I know that I can make a comfortable full swing and hit most of my shots within only a few yards (only 10-15 feet or so) of my desired distance, by choosing the right wedge and gripping it precisely. And it only took me a couple of hours one day to build my wedge distance chart which includes, for example:

  • 110-113 yards? Grip down the 45* wedge on half inch and swing away.
  • 103 to 107 yards? Full swing 49*.
  • 78-81 yards? 53* wedge gripped down 1 inch.

You can build your short game precision the same way. First, develop your “comfort swing” yardages with your wedges. I suggest that is about an 80-85% power swing to produce consistent distance and trajectory. Then learn how many yards it takes off each wedge when you grip down ½” and 1”. That gives you three precise distances with each wedge. If you carry four, like I do, that means I can hit the ball – with reasonable confidence – twelve or more different distances with the same swing!

There are no real shortcuts to accurate wedge play, but this works. And it beats the heck out of the dreaded “half wedge”, which your goal should be to not give yourself any more of them than you have to.

I highly advise you to learn your comfortable full-swing distances with your wedges, dissect them even more with precise hand placement, and play to those yardages. You’ll see immediate results.

 

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