Core Fitness is Essential to Golf
Let’s get down to the core of the matter! Ask yourself, how do you train your core and why is there so much importance placed on it in a golf swing? If the extent of your core exercise is, bending over to tee up your ball, or if you want to gain a better understanding of core in relation to golf, this article is for you.
I recall walking off the grid my first time at the REMAX World Long Drive Championships. Just qualifying was a huge goal that year and the nerves and adrenaline were on overdrive. After I hit my first round, getting a few in the grid, a long time competitor approached me and asked me how I felt. I replied, “I was nervous, but happy with my performance”. He asked “Do your abs hurt?” I felt I was in shape and replied, “No, I feel good.” He replied, “Wrong answer, your abs should be so tired from hitting those 6 balls that you need a little break.”
I didn’t truly understand this conversation until I went up to train with longtime friend, golf entertainer, power hitter and owner of Ben’s Power Golf, Ben Witter (www.benspowergolf.com) . Ben put me on a machine called the Power Max. It allows you to simulate your golf swing and teaches you how to engage your core. Ben is a phenomenal and an amazing athlete. He demonstrated and made it look so smooth, and then it was my turn. He patiently watched me during several attempts, until I realized you have to initiate the swing with your core. Now, after years of training and learning the dynamics of power in a golf swing, I understand the importance of core and will never forget this lesson. Your core is what connects your upper and lower body in a golf swing and is such a key element to producing power.
How often do you play golf and complain after that your abs ache? Most of us complain our low back, hips and arms hurt. When you are in your backswing you should feel a nice stretch in your abs. When you feel that stretch and then all of a sudden don’t feel any resistance in your core, you may have noticed that’s also the same time your swing starts to feel a little floppy at the top of your backswing. This is your signal that your abs may no longer be engaged and therefore, not working effectively for you.
When you initiate your downswing, it should come from the core. If you swing primarily using your upper body you risk being disconnected from your lower body. You may experience that this causes you to swing past parallel, resulting in being too armsy, and leaving shots left. In this instance, you left your abs behind. With that said, you will notice many Long Drive Professionals have a tendency to come past parallel, however, they also have the speed, and core strength to maximize that type of swing which results in hitting greater distances.
In your downswing if you try to swing by driving hard with your legs and hips first, but have a weak core, you will leave your upper body behind and experience many shots being blocked to the right.
The golf swing consists of timing rotational and lateral movements together, coordinating upper and lower body movements. Your core muscles connect these movements. I like to incorporate many aspects of training to work on strength, balance and flexibility but they all involve strengthening the core. When I train with my personal trainer and owner of SURFfit, Paul Hiniker we use functional integrated training. He has designed a specific program for my golf training so it engages the core muscles in primarily every exercise to maximize my golf swing.
For a fun warm-up prior to golfing I like to spend some time on my Indo Board or I go for a short surf before heading to the golf course. Using the Indo Board and surfing both require balance and flexibility, but also engages the core and is fun to get INDO it.
Core is important in so many sports but more so in those that require a lot of rotating and twisting. My training crosses over to surfing but I also like to spend some time on either my dirt bike or my street bike which both provide an intense core and overall body workout.
However you choose to get your core stronger, try to pick a variety of activities and exercises that you can stay committed to doing and that you enjoy.
It’s not an easy task but once you get on a routine, your golf game and your back will thank you! Don’t leave your abs behind when you play your next game of golf!
Crunch up into a half sit up and hold this position. Knees are bent 90 degrees and feet are off the ground. Rotate side to side holding the medicine ball without letting your feet drop to the ground or letting your back arch. Rotate to the left and to the right for 1 repetition and repeat this 15 times. Do 3 sets.
For a more advanced core exercise, lie flat on the ground with your arms to the sides, palms down. Touch your chin to your chest and then raise your legs up and over your head. Keep legs straight. Once your toes touch the ground behind your head, raise your arms to grab your toes and in one smooth motion raise up into a V-Sit, keeping legs straight and hold for a count of 2. Release, lie flat and repeat 15 times. Do 3 sets. If you do not keep your abs tight you will tend to bend your knees as you raise up into the V-Sit.
Michelle Sheptak is a contributing writer for Golf Belles Central and is a Long Drive Competitor, Surfer and ER Nurse. She will be sharing her knowledge on golf, surf and fitness here on www.golfbellescentral.com
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