If you want to unleash the longest drives you must train your joints and tissues to LOAD, STORE, and RECOVER elastic energy.
You need your muscles to become pulsing springs.
Then you must tune strategic stability and mobility throughout your body.
And stability is just tuned elasticity
If you think of a cowboy cracking a whip, there’s a very strategic stability-mobility sequence taking place for the whip to crack.
And that’s the same with golf.
You want to create a controlled whip that moves through your body – this is what creates the most club head speed.
There’s a misconception out there that strength is what hits a golf ball far.
This is not true.
And to understand why you have to know a little bit about how muscle works.
When you contract a muscle you create force, which causes movement.
But you also create stiffness, which slows down movement.
So, if you want to create the most speed you have to very rapidly contract then relax the muscle.
This way you are creating force to cause movement, but you’re relaxing the muscle before it becomes stiff and slows down that movement.
This rapid onset and offset of muscle is called a muscle pulse.
The athletes who run the fastest, jump the highest, and generate the most club head speed are all great muscle ‘pulsers’.
Great athletes have an ability to relax their muscles 6x faster than the regular person.
World champion golfers exhibit similar pulse relaxation cycles.
Mohammed Ali bouncing around the ring is a perfect example of the athleticism created by muscle pulsing.
Floyd Mayweather does not push his punches with his muscles.
He creates a controlled whip within his body by using a very specific muscle pulsing sequence to snap his punches – like the cowboy cracking a whip.
Less skilled boxers push their punches and as a result their punches are slower and they don’t generate as much power.
This applies to golf as well.
So now we have 3 variables that are essential to hitting a golf ball far:
Strategic stability-mobility sequencing.
An ability to pulse your muscles.
The typical exercises given to golfers DO NOT address these variables.
Now that we know what the variables are , let’s break down the golf swing.
What I’m about to tell you has been measured and quantified using using scientific instruments on word class long drive competitors.
The following description is for a right handed golfer.
During the backswing, the centre of pressure (body weight) moves to the back foot.
At the top of the backswing the following muscles have loaded and stored elastic energy (there are more tissues involved, but we’ll focus on these muscles for our purposes today).
Left latissimus dorsi
Right gluteal muscles (these are the main power generators for the golf swing)
When we get to the top of backswing the above muscles are locked and loaded.
But we cant just contract these muscles as hard as we can in an attempt to hit the ball far.
As we already learned, trying to hit the ball as hard as we can will create stiffness in our muscles and reduce our club head speed.
We need to use muscle pulsing to release them – like catapults.
BUT, the order we release them is VERY IMPORTANT.
If we want to generate the most rotational force and get the highest club head speed we have to follow a very specific muscle pulse sequence.
We want each muscle pulse to piggy-back off the preceding pulse so to add to the speed and create a sequential whip through the body.
So, this is the muscle pulse sequence.
We must first pulse the right gluteal muscles.
Then the Abdominals.
The the left latissimus dorsi.
Then the left rhomboid.
Then the left shoulder.
So with this specific MUSCLE PULSING SEQUENCE we have generated an enormous amount of rotational force.
Now, midway through the downswing, the centre of pressure has moved from the back foot to the front foot.
The front leg breaks the rotational force and PLANTS IT INTO THE GROUND at 3x body weight (if you’ve done this correctly).
Now because of Newtons 3rd law, there’s an equal and opposite reaction force moving back up the leg from the ground.
This initiates a pulse wave (the whip) up the leg…
through a stiffened core…
up to the shoulders…
and down the arms to the club.
Now at impact there is a secondary stiffening pulse.
Here all the muscles pulse at the same time, including the chest, back, and arms, but the most activity must be in the right hip – the power generator.
The purpose of this stiffening pulse at impact is to:
1. Accelerate the whip to the arms and club
2. Ensure all the energy generated by the body gets transferred to the ball.
Then IMMEDIATELY after impact the golfer must RELAX their muscles to allow high club head speed during the followthrough.
THE TIGHTER THE PULSE AT IMPACT, THE MORE SKILLED THE GOLFER.
- You must contract your muscle in order to initiate movement, but then let the muscle relax to create speed – let the muscle go.
- The majority of the rotational power generated must come from the hips.
- The power is transferred from the hips to the shoulders via a pulsed core.
- You cannot use maximal muscle effort to hit a long drive.
- Relaxation rate governs downswing speed.
- The pulse at impact governs the efficiency of the transfer of hip energy to the ball.
The implication of all this is that training muscle timing is much more important than strength training.
Having big muscles doesn’t help you hit a golf ball far because more muscle slows down speed of contraction and reduces joint range of motion.
Speed of contraction and relaxation is what hits a ball far.
Teaching the skill of relax – pulse – relax is far more beneficial than doing squats or deadlifts.
Now here’s the thing…
We have to make the sequencial whip that I just described automatic.
We don’t want you to have to think about it.
This means that we must make a motor engram.
A motor engram is a set of instructions stored in the brain that tell you how to move.
Think of the evolution of a child as they are learning how to throw a ball.
This is the science of skill acquisition.
You have probably hit a tonne of golf balls.
Maybe even tens of thousands of golf balls.
But ask yourself this..
Are you improving?
Most people practice a lot, but don’t improve a whole lot.
And the reason for that is because they don’t know about SKILL ACQUISITION science.
When you practice, you must practice with purpose.
You must collect data, and make adjustments based on what your data tells you.
This is what professional and Olympic athletes do.
And it’s the professionalism of good coaches that enables this to happen.
Some of this data can come from your performance in the gym – perfecting movement patterns.
And that’ll translate to the golf course.
And of course there are other ways to collect data as well.
But the point of all this PURPOSEFUL PRACTICING is to make a MOTOR ENGRAM for golf..
Walking is an example of a movement pattern that has become an engram.
You don’t have to think about walking.
It’s just automatic.
So that’s what I do.
I tune bodies for golf.
At the end of my articles, I like to leave you with a drill to enhance your golf athleticism.
I want you to practice standing on your back leg.
But don’t do it without purpose – time yourself and track your improvement.
Collect data for each leg.
The great golfers have amazing back leg balance.
Aim for 30 seconds.
If you can do it for 30 seconds, then try it with your eyes closed.
The goal is to balance on your back leg with your eyes closed for 30 seconds.
Here’s some tips:
Do this barefoot, and grab the ground with your feet like you would if you were using your hands – grip the ground tightly and maintain a healthy arch in your foot.
This is very important – this is a skill I want you to develop.
The ability to grip the ground with your feet will greatly enhance the power of your swing – there is a great deal of twisting force under your feet during the swing.
Newtons 3rd Law also applies to your feet and the twisting force under them.
Your back foot has to transfer the rotational force generated by your back hip to the ground in order to initiate the reaction force which will be directed towards the flag.
We’re going to continue to develop tuned stiffness and proprioception in your feet as we go along.
In addition, create an abdominal brace, which will provide you with proximal stability and better balance.
The abdominal brace: (1) with your abdominal muscles relaxed, push your fingers into the oblique muscles about 5-12cm lateral to the navel. These are lateral to the rectus abdominis. (2) Do not suck the muscles in, rather gently stiffen the abdominal wall feeling the fingers being pushed out. Do not suck the muscles in, or push them out. Simply activate them.
Gripping the ground with your feet and creating proximal stability (abdominal brace) will greatly enhance your ability to balance on one leg.
In my next article I will show you how to improve your core stability so that you can more efficiently transfer the power generated by your hips to the ball.
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I’m a Kinesiologist, Golf Fitness Specialist, Corrective Exercise Specialist, and Nutritionist.
As a member of the American College of Sports Medicine and National Academy of Sports Medicine I’ve helped hundreds of people recover from low back pain and reach their full athletic potential , including many Olympic and professional athletes.
The focus of my 20 year career is on golfers.
If you’d like help reaching your full potential sign up for a free 30 minute consultation where you can discuss some of your key health goals and concerns with me directly
I will describe in detail how I will develop a customized program for you.