Off-Season Conditioning for Juniors

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Every junior golfer wants to maximize their fitness potential in the off-season, but few know how to accomplish this crucial task. Before we investigate the method of off-season conditioning, we must define off-season and junior. Weight training references are generally intended for junior golfers over 14. No junior golfer should use external weights if they cannot support their own body weight during reasonable exercises such as push-ups, planks or lunges. And since there is no magical age to begin weight training, growth factors must be considered, and consultation with a golf fitness professional is encouraged to ensure safety for all ages. Golf is a unique sport. The golf season for many is year-round, whereas others must wait an entire winter before they can tee it up again. For our purposes we will break the off-season training routines into three categories: Fall Conditioning (September, October, November), Winter Conditioning (December, January, February), and Spring Conditioning (March, April, May).
 
Fall Conditioning: By September the junior athlete has probably participated in a full range of competitive events during the summer, and is weary from traveling, competition, and lingering injuries. September is a good month to help your body recover from the summer grind, and prepare for a solid off-season conditioning program. During this month, the junior golfer should continue hydrating consistently. This facilitates quicker healing and decreased inflammation. The best method for calculating your water intake is dividing your body weight by two, and drinking this amount in ounces every day. You should add a pinch of Celtic Sea Salt to your water to supercharge it with over eighty minerals and trace elements. The junior golfer should have their parents schedule them for physician and physical therapy evaluations for any injuries acquired during the competitive season. Avoid golf practice! Activity in September should be limited to running, swimming, low-impact aerobics, basketball and other enjoyable cardiovascular exercises. As the junior golfer enters October and November they can begin strength training and resume golf practice as injuries subside. It is important to have an assessment of flexibility to reduce the potential of injury during training. Strength training will begin in the presence of continued participation in the other cardiovascular exercises listed above. Your strength training should consist of lower resistance and higher repetitions. For instance, if performing dumbbell presses while lying on a Swiss ball, you would perform 2 sets of 15 reps with a lighter weight, versus 2 sets of 8 with a heavier weight. Higher repetition workouts with lighter weights will condition you over the next two months in preparation for heavier weights in the winter.
 
Winter Conditioning: As the junior golfer moves into December, January, and February, the focus will shift to strength and power. Practice should resume according to the golfers normal routines, and begin participation in competitive events. The junior golfer should have a reassessment of flexibility to ensure that the loaded joints and muscles are prepared for the increased weights. It is not within the scope of this article to suggest specific workout routines. You can visit www.juniorfit.com and learn how you can be evaluated and progressed through an age-appropriate exercise program. During this conditioning period, the junior golfer will want to add explosive activities to their workouts. Explosive activities are more functional and dynamic, and typically include plyometrics. Plyometrics uses the stretch-shortening cycle within your joint-muscle complex to help you effectively generate more speed and power. There are numerous functional movement patterns that the average junior golfer can participate in during their gym sessions. Cable machines and functional movement tubing (FMT) are great ways to challenge your body through normal movement patterns, and these patterns will equate to a more efficient and stable golf swing. Another consideration in this phase is circuit training. You can vary your workout from upper body exercises to lower body exercises within the same workout to get cardiovascular benefit as you increase muscle strength and power.
 
Spring Conditioning: For many junior golfers, this part of the season will include an increase in tournament play and travel time. This is a good time to focus on golf-specific exercises. Focusing on the larger muscle groups and dynamic shoulder muscles (abdominals, hips, rotator cuff, and leg muscles) will be of the greatest benefit in this stage. Once again, as with each stage, have your flexibility reassessed to insure safety for your muscles and joints. Flexibility, along with the stable foundation you have built up to this point in your off-season, will be the greatest determining factors of the quality, safety, and efficiency of your swing. As your playing schedule gets into full swing, it is recommended to continue working out. As a junior golfer, you need to exercise caution and look for some of the signs of overwork. In-season workouts should continue on a similar schedule that was used in the off-season, with less intensity and duration.
 
Golf is a stressful sport on the body. It is imperative as a junior that you have a safe, effective workout program designed specifically for your needs. Every junior develops at different times during adolescence and has different needs. Be sure to check the credentials of your choice of trainer to ensure they are educated in the unique art of fitness for junior golfers. Have a great off-season, and play fit!
 
About the Author: Brian Knight, author of Junior Golf Fitness is a Physical Therapist (PT), Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach (CSCS), and Level 3 Medical Golf Fitness Instructor with the Titleist Performance Institute.
 

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