Golfers are Athletes too!

There’s a stereotype out there that golfing is a relaxing, cruise around in carts sort of activity. In the older days, men wore puffy pants and women wore skirts and fancy hats! A lot has changed over the years, regarding golf attire and golf fitness.  There is a huge focus now on sport specific biomechanics and strengthening exercises for every activity.  As in every sport, the key to improving your technique and performance is to train specifically for that sport. Yes, general fitness activities will improve your flexibility, endurance and overall strength. However, focusing on sport specific movements will be what takes you to the next level in your game.

As we age, the most common complaint in the game of golf is losing distance and power. While it’s true, we tend to become less flexible and lose some muscle mass, there are certain flaws in golf technique that contribute to this problem and there are exercises that can really make a difference to improve your swing.

Golf Teaching Pro and Coach, Arlen Bento Jr., has summarized three common mistakes we make in our technique that contribute to this loss of distance and power in our swing. He calls them the “death moves”! Swing technique flaws that kill distance and power. The first one he calls Over the top: this is a common mistake where from the top of the backswing, one comes up and over the ball, falling in front of the swing plane during the downswing. We have an instinct to want to come down on the ball fast and hard to get power, but if we are beyond the proper swing plane and our weight is too far forwards, we have lost the ability to utilize the torso and abdominal muscles effectively.

The second mistake he calls is Casting: at the top of the backswing, the wrist angle is lost as one flicks the wrist just before coming down into the downswing (as if casting a fishing rod).  Again, this unlocks the power built up in our torso, abdominals and arms at the top of the backswing and results in a less powerful downswing. The third common mistake is Standing Up. We are all guilty of that one at some point! This occurs when we pull up during the striking of the ball and lose the proper hip rotation required to power the swing.  These common faults often happen together which is even more challenging to correct!

Fortunately, there is a great tool that helps to alleviate these faults, build sport specific strength, balance and endurance. The golf “strength trainer” is a tool that has a golf handle attached to latex tubing. You could create a homemade version with a shortened golf club and theraband or tubing. One end can be looped around your foot or anchored in a doorframe and by holding the club handle you mimick various phases of the golf swing. The tension in the tubing helps you to maintain correct posture at the top of the backswing – and in a sense, the tubing is trying to pull you back down the way you came up.  It is also more difficult to fall out of the ideal swing plane or stand up during the downswing, as the line of the band is drawing you down. Doing several repetitions in the various phases of the golf swing can build muscle memory, strength and endurance. For example – a right handed golfer loops the tubing around his left foot and rotates up into a backswing. Come back down to neutral stance and repeat the backswing again. An alternate move would be to hook the tubing onto the right foot and repeat the phase of golf stance to follow through. Because there is tension in the band throughout each movement you are working against the resistance of the tubing pulling up into a backswing then controlling the release of resistance during the downswing.

There are a couple great products on the market that are golf specific with a built in golf handle and tubing apparatus (no handy work required!). One is called the Strength Trainer at and another is the Power Swing Trainer at Both websites offer instructional videos and a variety of exercises to perform.

We also hold Strength and Conditioning Golf classes at Bragg Creek Physiotherapy that involve a variety of golf specific exercises to improve your core strength, flexibility, endurance and power. Please check out our website or facebook page for further details or call the clinic to inquire. Spring is here, golf courses will soon open, and we want to get you in shape to have the best golf season yet!