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Golf Technology and Fitness: Bridging the Gap

By Michael K. Butler BA; PTA; CSCS*D; RSCC*D; NMT

Over the past 30 years, many gimmicks have hit the golf market all promising to increase your swing speed and efficiency off the tee. Likewise, in the golf fitness industry, there have been many advances to get your body in great shape and reduce your chances of injury on the course.

The problem has been how to get golf technology and fitness to work together so that the golfer can benefit in a manner that seems “golf specific,” a term that is loosely used in sports fitness.

When I train golfers, I like to use the term ‘golf movement training,’ since we are trying to improve movement patterns related to the golf swing which helps people understand how bridging fitness and movement together can help them achieve greater distances.

Many of us have heard of putting donuts on the ends of baseball bats to make you feel like the bat is lighter when you try to hit the ball. In reality, when you swing a weighted bat several times before reaching the plate, it will throw off your timing so you may end up swinging too early or over swinging. Weighted donuts can be as light as 4 oz. and as heavy as 28 oz. They provide a great mental effect for the player, but several studies have shown that weighted bats can decrease motor sequencing and increase fatigue, resulting in poor plate performance.

The theory behind the new golf technology of speed stick training is that by using three weighted sticks, one being 20% lighter than a driver, the next 10% lighter and the last one 5% heavier, the body is then trained to increase response speed by reducing the load, and then gradually increasing the load, which teaches the body that it is capable of running the motor unit pattern faster.

Practicing with the sticks can be very conveniently done in your home, office, gym or on the course. Starting with the lightest of the three clubs, you want to practice swinging 3 times on each side (left and right) for 3 sets exerting 100% into each swing. Swinging both left and right may feel odd for a golfer, but working both sides of the body equally is standard in fitness. You then proceed to the next club and repeat the above sequence, and then finally the last club which is the heaviest of the three. After completing 3 sets, you then take a step forward and swing and repeat the above sequence. This is considered the introductory level; after four weeks (3 times per week), you then graduate to the other levels which are more advanced in positioning the body.

The order of motor unit firing is imperative to increasing swing speed. By using this technology in conjunction with a prescribed golf fitness program, the average golfer can look forward to an additional 15-20 yards on their drives by placing the body in a more efficient pattern of movement and sequence.

Michael K. Butler B.A., P.T.A.; CSCS*D; RSCC*D; NMT, is co-owner of Kinetix Health and Performance Center in Palm Desert. He holds a state license as a physical therapist assistant, national certifications of distinction through the NSCA as strength and conditioning coach, Poliquin International state coach and as a Full Body Active Release Techniques Practitioner. He can be reached at (760) 200.1719 or michael@kinetixcenter.com.

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