This research overview focuses on strength and conditioning for golfers. Golf is a very technical sport, with athletes devoting vast amounts of time to swing mechanics through drills on the driving range and time on the course. In my experience, their physical preparation is often overlooked. This paper by Lephart et al (2007) looks at the effects of an 8 week training program on golf performance for recreational golfers.
The study had 15 participants with mean ± standard deviation age, height, weight and US golf association handicap of 47.2 ± 11.4 years, 178.8 ± 5.8cm, 86.7 ± 9.0kg and 12.1 ± 6.4 respectively. All participants were regular golfers playing 2-3 times per week and practicing at the range 2-3 times per week. They refrained from golf practice and play and any other conditioning activity during the intervention. Each participant took part in an 8 week strength and conditioning program aimed at improving strength, flexibility, balance and, more specifically, targeting stability of the lower body and mobility of the upper body.
Golf swing kinematic data was collected with an 8 camera 3D motion capture system, golf ball launch data was collected with the Vector Launch system, strength was tested using isokinetic dynamometry , balance was tested using a Kistler force plate and range of motion tested using a goniometer. For a full methodology please check the original paper.
Participants performed a program of exercises including static stretching exercises, high repetition band resisted golf swing exercises including resisted backswings and downswings and resisted hip adductions and abductions and balancing exercises. They were instructed to perform this session of exercises 3-4 times per week for the 8 weeks and to increase the load on the strengthening exercises once they became comfortable.
The results show significant improvements at the end of the 8 weeks in the majority of strength tests, in all of the flexibility values and a number of the golf launch data including club and ball velocities, total distance and carry distance. It was concluded that recreational golfers who partake in a targeted golf strength and conditioning program can develop a more stable base with greater functional flexibility allowing for greater rotational forces to be generated and resulting in greater club head velocity.
For golfers reading this overview looking to implement strength and conditioning into their training, it is worth remembering that everybody has their own baseline from which to start. An individualised training program based on your own individual needs, goals and training history from an accredited strength and conditioning coach rather than a generalised program is the best way to maximise improvement in your game.
Lephart, S.M., Smoliga, J.M., Myers, J.B., Sell, T.C. & Tsai, Y.S. (2007). A eight-week golf specific exercise program improves physical characteristics, swing mechanics and golf performance in recreational golfers. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 21(3) pp. 860-869.