UAE Golf Columnist Archives

The Future of Golf Fitness

I hope this article sparks some debate and everyone from the golf coach, therapist, trainer and passionate golfer leaves a comment

In this months article, I will introduce a friend from the UK, Andrew Nicholettos of Pure Golf Performance, to shed some light on the future of golf fitness.  I hope this article sparks some debate and everyone from the golf coach, therapist, trainer and passionate golfer leaves a comment. Over to Andy:

The idea of Golf fitness including Golf specific injury prevention, and rehabilitation has become increasingly fashionable of late, and this is reflected in the seemingly newfound image of Golf, the number of performance institutes that have been set up, as well as the number of clinicians now in place to support the game of Golf, and the ‘modern Golfer’.
Subsequently, it is now commonplace for Golf coaches to work in concert with a clinical team, to address aspects of a Golfers physical form such as flexibility and or strength. However, how credible are the ideas that are being promoted? Are we really preventing injury, or are we inadvertently promoting injury, and myths that hinder performance. Furthermore, our coach and clinician singing from the same song sheet, or are they simply promoting ideas, that despite their good intentions are conflicting and physically incompatible with each other.
This brief article highlights in short where we may be going wrong, and the route forward. It is not intended to be all-encompassing, but I hope that this is thought-provoking and timely in its delivery.
The root of the problem…
In an ideal world, one would like to think that injury prevention and rehabilitation ideas for Golf stem from the game itself, although often this is not the case, and a Golfers ‘exercise protocol’ is frequently conjured from ideas from other sports. Furthermore, many therapists involved in the game, don’t even play Golf.  I ask immediately, are we doing Golf a disservice before we even start to get our hands dirty?
But what if they do stem from the game itself. Is that also a problem? The traditional coaching model is largely imaged based, whereby amateurs and aspiring professionals are taught to recreate static positions demonstrated by Adam Scott for example.
I ask immediately – what if a person can’t achieve Adam’s Scott’s backswing position.  Are they then a bad golfer? Worse more, this is often the point where the support team is called in to achieve more flexibility, strength, and stability.  Individuals are then made to do exercises that have no relevance to Golf, or their body. The result is artificial and potentially injurious.
Furthermore, the coaching industry and the fitness domains are readily filled and lead by Guru based ideas and conflicting messages. Despite the good intentions of a coach and clinician based relationship a potential disaster awaits.
The inherent truth, of the Golf swing, is to provide freedom for the hands and arms to compress the ball with force through impact. How an individual does this is wholly unique, and, in reality, is largely based on an individuals unique and intrinsic physical repertoire. This explains why all the top ten Golfers swing the club in a completely different way, and yet all strike the ball with force and purpose.
I think we need to revert back to simple concepts as why a swing looks the way it does, and not what it looks like, and then build therapy/ injury prevention/ rehabilitation, around these ideas to make it easier for each individual Golfer, regardless of physical stature, or skill level, to compress the ball at impact.
Such a diplomatic and user – friendly stance is a far cry from simply prescribing the latest fad exercise.  Ask yourself, did Jack Nicklaus back squat for example, and do these methods really help make us better at golf. I am not suggesting that exercise is bad, but surely Golf exercises should be specific to the physical requirements of Golf. This seems obvious right, but sadly this does not prevail.
A note on specificity…
At present too many Golf exercises/screening methods promote the concept of the isolate in order to integrate. This myth promotes the notion that a muscle group or chain of muscles can be ‘extracted’, trained and or made more flexible, often in a way that is out of the context of the swing, and built back into the whole task, with the assumption that the whole task will perform in a more effective way.
However, rehabilitating a specific muscle and or a chain of muscles is unlikely to improve the performance, or recover the control of the whole task. Not to mention that this prevailing concept defies the fundamental principles of how we move. That is that movement centers around its goal and not the muscle itself.
This old maxim should be changed from the isolate in order to integrate, to integrate in order to coordinate. This way injury prevention and rehabilitation protocols can be truly specific.  Marry these concepts with bespoke principle based coaching, and I can only foresee that Golf fitness in one simple definition of effectiveness, will do more good than harm.

Andrew Nicholettos is a specialist Sport and Musculoskeletal Osteopath at Pure Sports Medicine, a single figure handicapper, and a Nike Golf Performance specialist.


Move well first, then move more often,
Neal Dinan

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