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Strength and conditioning program design for the Golfer

Should we focus on Maximum Strength, Strength Speed, Speed Strength, Strength Endurance

CONSIDERATIONS: Firstly, how strongly do we really need to be to move the golf club from A to B and do it repeatedly over a number of days?

Should we focus on Maximum Strength, Strength Speed, Speed Strength, Strength Endurance… all of them? some of them? In fact, we may need to ask ourselves what is the actual relevance to our golf game when we hit the gym… if of course, that is your purpose.

How much of our gym work involves integrated and coordinated movement patterns?  We know that ‘’strength training, which restricts movements of joints involved in producing specific sporting actions can modify the circuitry and programming of the brain and thereby reduce the functional or sport specific capability of many of the muscles used to execute that movement… that subtle differences in change in grip, stance or head position in regular training/coaching can cause significant neural changes which control the way someone executes a given skill (Verkhoshanksy and Siff, 2009)’


Displaying strength in a given movement isn’t a simple matter that can be corrected with a few sets to pump a particular muscle group. An analytical approach that views joint angles, the range of motion, anthropometry, and individualities that may inhibit the ability to display strength is needed ( and a purely traditional exercise-based approach may not be the answer.
‘An exercises aim is often to decrease the variation in the movement to increase the specific effect on the target area. This may be precisely the opposite of what the nervous systems may need in a therapeutic context. (Cormack, 2014).. i.e. if someone experiences pain through their movement.

Cormack goes on to say, ‘specific exercises come with specific instructions to do them in the ‘right’ way sometimes with fear of them being ineffective or even dangerous if done in the ‘wrong’ way. In this way, they can become contrived and controlled, strict and inflexible. An example of this would be the classic neutral spine or stiff core that seems to be on the instruction list of a whole bunch of exercises.’
Through my studies and experiences I am of the opinion that a ‘movement based approach’ may be more applicable and yield superior results:
‘The aim of a movement based approach is instead to improve a movement or movement in general and how the nervous system interprets and subsequently tolerates that movement or a variety of movements. Progression would involve how an increase in speed, load, and range of movement are tolerated…simple movement cueing, skill, novelty and variety may be more important than strength to certain people. (Cormack, 2014)’

‘The existence of individual style reveals that each person will programme the CNS in subtly different ways, so that attempts to imposed stereotyped, highly general patterns of movement may prevent an athlete ever reaching his/her full potential (Verkhoshanksy and Siff, 2009).’  Researchers in the Journal of Sports Biomechanics (2007) propose that people involved in sports performance should focus more of their research on movement variability and on important related topics, such as control and coordination of movement, and implications for practice and skill learning rather than traditional strength training alone.

So lets put the question forward: what are we strength training for when it comes to golf conditioning?  Should the principles behind golf conditioning be different from any other sport?
Is someone’s reduction in movement execution or force application a result of a decrease in neural drive/protective response or actual lack of strength?
Cormack, (2014 ) suggests ‘there is no reason why in our program design we cannot contain a traditional strength/muscle focus with the added element of movement skill and variety or in fact movement skill with load added in too!’  Sounds like a good approach to me : )
An athletic physic and general well being certainly have physiological and psychological benefits:  what we ingest in terms of our nutrition and hydration status, electrolyte balance etc are all going to have implications for overall performance on the course.  We can sleep well, nourish well BUT we the outcome must be that we MOVE WELL!

Many people see movement asymmetries!  That this is the basis for a path of least resistance in movement. Having a system that can ‘compensate’ with a good level of tissue tolerance is always a good thing.  An asymmetry could just be normal movement patterns and mistaken for a mechanical compensation by many trainers/coaches/therapists.

Neal Dinan

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