As you know, a well-structured golf fitness program is built on a system of progressions. These progressions include flexibility, mobility, balance, strength and power. To maximize your golf game, adequate Flexibility and mobility is necessary to complete all phases of the golf swing. To maintain the bodys center of gravity at the various swing positions, Balance must be maintained. Consistent golf performance demands a solid foundation of strength. Strength will prepare your body to generate the force needed to sustain power. Power is what creates club head speed needed for long drives. Lets look at how the kettlebell swing will develop all of these abilities.
Muscles can be viewed like spokes on a bicycle wheel. If any of the spokes become too loose or tight, the entire frame comes out of alignment. This analogy holds true for the human body when there are muscle imbalances present. The flexibility gained with the kettlebell swing is ideal for maintaining muscle balance that is required for optimal golf performance. Muscle Balance and Flexibility as well as Static and Dynamic Stability control 80% of ball flight factors (1).
The kettlebell swing teaches the valuable skill of the hip fold. During the hip fold or bend phase of the swing, the hamstrings are actively stretched. It has been shown that active stretching or involving the nervous system will produce quick gains in both the flexibility and strength of the muscle. This skill will unlock your hips and allow you to express your full power with less effort.
A tight muscle is a weak muscle. When a muscle loses its elasticity it can no longer contract and relax. A common challenge in golfers is to have tight hamstrings. The kettlebell swing will address this issue with great effectiveness in that it will improve both the flexibility AND strength of the hamstring muscles.
The kettlebell swing absolutely meets the criteria for functional exercise because it demands that you maintain your center of gravity over your own base of support. Optimal balance during the golf swing requires both static balance and holding strength and dynamic balance which is the ability to maintain proper posture while moving. Balance and stability is greatly responsible for keeping the golf club on a proper swing plane. During the kettlebell swing, you will need to keep a consistent alignment in your spine while executing both the hip fold and hip thrust phase of the drill. In addition to keeping a proper spine angle, your center of gravity will be challenged as the kettlebell swings back and through our legs. To maintain proper tempo and to maximize power, you will need to catch the kettlebell with your hips. If you perform this exercise with fidelity, you will bullet proof your lower back from injury and create a balanced and stable swing in all phases.
Kettlebell swings increase your ability to generate force consistently throughout your round. If you find your golf swing losing effectiveness on the back 9, then 4 to 6 weeks of kettlebell swings will fix this problem. The HardStyle Golf swing technique requires that you create maximum total body tension at the top position. The repeated act of creating maximum tension will increase the resiliency of both the muscular and nervous system.
The forces and the speed of the kettlebell swing create the perfect environment for developing the fast twitch muscle fibers that are responsible for generating and sustaining power. If you could imagine for a moment trying to fire a cannon from a canoe, you can visualize what would happen. Instead of the cannon firing from the canoe, the cannon would stay put and the canoe would shoot away from the cannon due to lack of an adequate foundation. The human body behaves like this when it lacks flexibility, stability and strength in the presence of power. This scenario explains many of the golf related injures that occur such as lower back strain, shoulder and wrist injuries.
Kettlebells allow for the safe execution of power drills with a lower risk for injury. The swing will produce the same if not greater forces than a vertical jump without your feet leaving the ground. This will eliminate the wear and tear on joints and allow for more frequency of training. It is a general rule that if an athlete can train more frequently while remaining injury free, and then they will see the best gains in performance. Kettlebell swing will accomplish this without question.
Terrence Thomas, RKC draws from 17 years of experience in health and exercise instruction, sports conditioning, and physical rehabilitation. He is the author of the first golf specific kettlebell publication, the newly released Hard Style Golf Conditioning: Kettlebell Drills for a relentless power game.
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