YOU DO NEED A PLAN. THE PLAN IS TO BREATHE, TRUST, LET GO AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS…
There are so many ways to prepare for a day out on the course, but only one will suit you. Some start arriving with minutes to spare walking straight to the tee. I have a friend who will only have a few putts and a good long chat to friends then shes ready to rumble. I’ve tried it but it didn’t work !!!
I’m an observer of others around the club and how they all prepare, some putt first then go to the range. Some do it the other way around. Everyone is friendly and embracing of each other and that’s why I love going to golf, but the more serious golfers have their pre-game routine and stick to it every time they play.
I watch in awe our multiple club champion prepare for her round, she would only hit ½ a bucket in the time I hit a full bucket. She approaches every practice shot exactly the same way as if she was out on the course. She warms up mentally, sharpens her focus, as well as physically.
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced player the key is to begin each round with a consistent pre-game routine to feel like you’ve done everything you can to prepare for a great round.
The key in your pre-round warm up is to relax, as you are only warming up. The way you hit your warm up is no indication of how you’re going to play on the course ! It’s called a warm up for a reason and is no place to start giving yourself a lesson. Get into a habit of being non-judgemental towards all shots, which is what you’ll be doing on the course.
EXPECTATION CAN BE A MONSTER…
Expectation breeds pressure and that’s something you can do without, good golf is about embracing the possibilities and not being weighed down by the burden of expectation with regards to the final outcome.
One of my previous blogs ‘Imagery and Sinking Putts’ explained how an essential pre-putt routine of green reading and positive putt sinking imagery can give you confidence and a better chance of making putts.
Visualising shot success in your warm up is similar, the idea here is that you are ingraining those positive images such as hitting down the middle of the fairway from each tee and hitting your approach shots close to the pin. You are also warming up your ‘anxiety control’ if you don’t hit the perfect shot each time. Don’t show frustration, Delete the thought. Remember the research says that psychology is one of the big factors separating good players from bad players. There is no harm in trying this, what have you got to lose.
OK , WHAT DO PROS DO ?
My recent internet search showed at a recent pro women’s tournament that warm up varied greatly. Number of balls hit on the range prior to the first tee was 200 being the most and 25 being the least and number of minutes warming up in total was 169 being the longest and 25 being the quickest! Obviously there are a number of factors in play here such as multiple consecutive days of golf, however half an hour warm up was close to the minimum.
WHAT DO THE STUDIES SHOW ?
The British Journal of Sports Medicine 2003 (A.Fradkiin et al.)
Improving golf performance with a warm up conditioning program. In their study they showed that golfers with handicap range of 12 to 27, that used a warm up program prior to play and performing it 5 times a week improved performance compared to golfers in their study who did not perform the warm up.
This study showed that the golfers improved their club head speed 24.0%. This increased speed equates to a decreased handicap of approximately 7 shots. This suggested decrease in handicap can be validated by a previous study showing club head speed is a measure of performance. ( this study is looked at long game not short game).
The warm up & exercises in this study consisted of three parts. Firstly a variety of exercises including windmills and trunk twists (15 seconds each) to get the body moving. Then a number of static stretches over the shoulder, trunk/torso, hamstrings, lower back, chest, wrist and forearm, all done twice for 5 seconds. Finally 30 seconds of air swings with a golf club.
The warm up in this study seems rather simple but it appears to have achieved results by increasing club head speed (performance).
I continued my research and found exercises to improve technique and prevent injury.
Good Gluteal (buttock) strength is the key to anchoring you to the ground and stabilising your pelvis when playing a shot. It is this stable base that your trunk rotation is built on.
Exercises that stand out from many are:-
- Squats – can be done with back against the wall on 2 legs to begin with and 1 leg at a time as your strength builds. Slowly slide down into half squat position and slowly rise. If you have an average level of fitness, Perform x2 sets of 15 repetitions every second day.
- Lunges – medium depth with a medium length step forwards, Perform x2 sets of 15 every second day. This works your trunk , hamstrings and quadriceps muscles. Ok, next is the trunk. Very often golfers can develop low back pain. This is usually when the momentum of their swing stretches and applies a rotary force to the lower back rotating it beyond their normal day to day (probably somewhat restricted) range. This can be improved.
- Trunk rotation – is an essential element to develop. At first, it will be muscle memory (improved neuromuscular recruitment). Range will slowly increase. Don’t push it too hard. It is ideally done on a stabilized pelvis in a slightly bent posture (as if you are addressing the ball) with your hands across your shoulders. Perform x2 sets of 30 repetitions every second day to begin with. You can add the resistance of a light resistance band, knot one end and anchor in a closed door, hold the other free end.
- Shoulder stretch – if you play right handed stretch your left arm horizontally across your chest to the right side. Use your left hand to press your upper left arm into your chest reinforcing the stretch sensation across your left shoulder, keep arm straight & elbow locked. Perform x3 sets of 20 seconds alternate days.
- Pelvis stability – this is generally a hard one but persist. If you find it hard then you need to do it. Stand as if you are addressing the ball – but only stand on your left leg (if you play right handed). Hold an imaginary club, very slowly take ⅓ of a backswing (rotating your trunk) and then very slowly swing ⅓ forwards. You will probably wobble a lot at first but persist. What you are trying to build is a stable pelvis and trunk and to stop any collapse of your left side during your backswing. Avoid just moving your arms and be sure to ‘turn your shoulders’. Perform x5 sets of 6 repetitions every second day.
After Two Weeks
You may be ready to progress to doing the above exercises x5 days per week. Symptoms of pain may suggest you are overdoing it so drop back to every second day if your body is complaining. Don’t race through these exercises, do them slowly with control. Remember you are developing your nervous system as well – give it time to provide control and stability.
These are basic exercises, so they are ideal to start with. Create a regular time and begin a routine that takes you to the next level. Incorporate mental rehearsal and positivity.
Stay tuned to Fairway Birdies for more by clicking on and subscribing to www.fairwaybirdies.com