Awareness: The Key to Understanding Your Golf Body
Why is “understanding your golf body” important? Too many times, when introducing a player to the concept of golf fitness as a dynamic to improve their game, they get overwhelmed by the sight of a squat rack or a full set of dumbbells when walking through the gym with me for the first time. Additionally, a number of them come in envisioning players like Rory, Camilo, or Dustin Johnson deadlifting a large amount of weight or Joanna Klatten or Lexi Thompson doing an intense plyometrics workout, and they automatically think that is what they need in order to improve their game. In reality, what they have generally seen has been the flashiest “made for tv/social media” exercises those players might do in their workouts, which is the furthest thing that a player who is new to golf fitness should be focused on.
The truth is, the basis of any biomechanical evaluation that I put players through revolves heavily around simple tests to see if, or how well their brains are connected to specific muscle groups related to general posture and the swing. Surprisingly, more times than not, it comes down to the question of “if there is a connection happening at all” between brain and muscle than “how strong of a movement can they create.” With that in mind now, it should start to become more evident why that deadlift or box jump should be a considerable amount of time down the road from your first workout.
Basically, what I tell players that struggle with those initial brain/muscle connectivity tests is that they are a vehicle running on dirty spark plugs and our first step together is to clean up those spark plugs through everyday drills and light exercises with mild resistance to give them a better, more efficient connection before any considerable amount of weight or explosive movement is added to their routine. Often, what starts to happen in those tests when we are targeting a smaller specific muscle group, is that we will find the brain activating larger muscles in the area that it is more familiar with to create the desired movement. This essentially can lead to a loss of swing efficiency or even injury, given the severity of the movement being created, both being main topics of my work as a biomechanics coach. Even with the players who are looking to add muscle in their workout, golf specific or not, the player should understand that still in the first 3 to 4 weeks of any routine, the reason you may actually begin to feel stronger is because you are strengthening the brain’s connection to the desired muscle. You are building more efficient synapses or basically “cleaning your spark plugs”. It’s not until approximately 4-6 weeks into a routine that you will start to have noticeable muscle growth occur, given the type of training you are doing.
So, when signing up for your initial biomechanical assessment, approach it with the understanding that you aren’t going in to find out how many plates you should be sliding on the bench press bar, but more so with the understanding that you’re there to gain an awareness of how efficient your golf body is. From there, preventing injury, gaining efficiency, and building awareness should be your main goals to facilitate improvement, rather than trying to keep up with the big boys and girls on tour and what they’re doing in the gym.