Physical characteristics of proficient golfers

This review focuses on golf and a paper by Sell et al (2007) that looked at the physical characteristics of golfers across a number of bands of proficiency. The authors hypothesised that those golfers with lower handicaps would score higher in the recorded measures of strength, flexibility and balance.

The study looked at 257 male, right handed golfers (age: 45 ± 12.8 years, height: 180.6 ± 6.5 cm, weight: 87.9 ± 12.6 kg) participated in the study and they were grouped according to their handicap (<0, 1-9, 10-20). Isometric strength was tested using isokinetic dynamometry on shoulder internal and external shoulder rotations and hip adduction and abduction.

Range of motion and flexibility was measured at the shoulder, hip, hamstring and torso using a goniometer. It measured internal/external rotation, flexion/extension and abduction of the shoulder, flexion/extension and adduction/abduction of the hip, supine hamstring flexibility using the knee extension test and, with pelvis stabilised, maximum torso rotation.

Postural stability or balance was measured using a Kistler force plate under eyes closed and eyes open conditions. Participants were barefoot and  tested on each leg individually, they were asked to focus on a target 2 metres in front at eye level and maintain their balance while data was collected in medial/lateral and anterior/posterior planes for 10 seconds and the same procedure for eyes closed was repeated with the obvious difference.

Results showed that the <0 handicap group had significantly greater right hip abduction, right hip adduction, left hip abduction, right torso rotation and left torso rotation strength than both of the other groups and significantly greater right shoulder internal rotation, right shoulder external rotation and left shoulder external rotation strength than the 10-20 handicap group. The 0-9 handicap group also had significantly greater right torso rotation and left torso rotation strength than the 10-20 handicap group. There were also significantly better scores for the <0 handicap group over the other groups and for the 0-9 group over the 10-20 handicap group for many of the balance and flexibility scores, for full details the orginal paper can be consulted.

The paper concludes by saying ample evidence is provided for the efficacy of training programs to be designed to improve golf performance because highly proficient golfers showed significantly greater multiple joint strength and flexibility as well as better balance.

For an individualised strength and conditioning program to improve your driving distance, driving consistency and putting distance control get in contact.

  • Sell, T.C., Tsai, Y.S., Smoliga, J.M., Myers, J.B. & Lephart, S.M. (2007). Strength, flexibility and balance characteristics of highly proficient golfers.  Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 21(4) pp. 1166-1171.

Neil Welch

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