We are pleased to bring you part 4 of the ultimate strength and conditioning guide for golf, written by Golf Performance Coach, Michael Jordan. Michael will be breaking down each element of golf fitness and will dive deeper into how each element impacts your ability to play better and how to improve them effectively. Catch up on Part 1, Part 2 which focuses on building strength for golf and Part 3 which focuses on the importance power in golf.
In parts 2 and part 3 of this series on golf fitness we looked at strength and power. With those two in place you’re then in a much better place to begin working on increasing your speed with direct speed work. It’s worth noting though that if you’ve spent a few months working on strength and power that you’re going to have noticed some very impressive speed gains already.
When you talk about speed work to a golfer there is one thing that always comes to mind - speed sticks. Here’s the key thing - speed sticks are not speed training, but overspeed training.
Essentially overspeed training is a way to get the nervous system to unlock its restrictions on how fast you can swing. In just a few minutes you’re able to 'increase' your swing speed by several miles an hour by swinging as fast as possible with sticks of varying weights.
In reality, those changes aren’t long lasting - in the 5 minutes you’ve spent doing overspeed training you have simply improved your ability to swing fast. You haven’t improved how much power you can produce but learnt how to put that power into your swing.
What is great about speed sticks is that it help golfers to bring intent to their speed pursuits. To get fast you have to train fast. For golfers this means that to unlock the speed potential they have built through strength and power work they need to spend time moving as quickly as possible and speed sticks are an easy way for golfers to see the transferability into their sport.
With my athletes we look at speed work before using overspeed protocols. This normally comes in the forms of throwing, jumping and sprinting rather than through the golf swing itself and is the perfect way to begin to bring in more sport specific movements. What is most important is that you select movements in which you are not limited by load, whether that’s external or your own bodyweight.
For golfers who have been training strength and power in the off season, this can be a brilliant way to move from the broader movement patterns into ones that more closely resemble the swing itself. Golfers are notorious for liking gym exercises that look like the swing and so it’s no surprise that speed work is more popular than strength and power.
Unlike power work where higher loads are used to increase the rate of force development, we use much lighter loads during speed training to allow each movement to be performed at peak velocity. Take a med ball slam for example; this can be a great way to train power by using a significant load but to train pure speed we need to use a load light enough that the athlete can perform the slam at full speed, rather than being slowed down by their ability to produce force fast enough to move the heavier ball.
Due to the light loads and lower volume, speed work is incredibly useful during the golf season and has incredible benefits in maintaining your speed whilst you reduce strength and power work. Speed sessions often require minimal recovery and so can be used without hindering your performance on the course and due to the lack of eccentric tension in speed moves there’s often very little in the way of muscle soreness too.
During the off season I recommend that speed work is kept to a minimum to allow your body to make optimal strength adaptations. Assuming you are like any golfer and don’t completely halt your golf during the off season you will find that playing and practicing will provide more than enough of a stimulus to ensure speed does not drop.
Michael Jordan, has 7 years worth of experience working in the fitness industry. Since graduating Loughborough University with an Honours degree in Human Biology, he has spent his career coaching clients from all walks of life. Having opened 2 gyms, coached hundreds of individual clients including professional athletes performing on the international stage, Special Forces and prepared a military team to successfully cross the Antarctic.
As an avid golfer (2.5hcp), Michael understands the importance of effective Strength and Conditioning programming and has developed a platform to bring golfers the highest level of programming available in order to develop their golf whilst building an athletic body that functions optimally for life. Click here to learn more about Michael and his programs.