Unlocking Your Power Potential In Golf

golf swing

Imagine the unlocked potential of an unrestricted backswing. Imagine less back, hip, and elbow pain due to improved swing efficiency. If your goal is to improve your club distance and swing consistency throughout 18 holes, the key is to unlock your power. Power (P) is the rate at which energy is transferred, used, or transformed (scientifically, P = Force x Velocity). The most important neuromuscular function in golf is the ability to generate force in a rapid manner, i.e. maximal muscular power. When you develop increased power, it leads to increased club speed, driving distance, and energy efficiency. Maximal power output is paramount to driving performance in golf when the aim is to improve your distance and efficiency.

Specifically, there are five key areas that can be considered essential components of swing power:

  • Proper nutrition/hydration (must fuel your body correctly in order for your muscles to function at their top performance level and fire powerfully)
  • Functional mobility/flexibility (must have sufficient range of motion in your joints and adequate flexibility in your soft tissues to avoid “restricting” power output)
  • Core stability (must have a stable “base of support”, allowing for maximal force output)
  • Muscular strength (cannot have power without developing true strength)
  • Speed of muscle contraction (in addition to having strength, must also spend time training high speed movements)

Power can, and should, be trained across a continuum (a variety of levels/intensities/workloads). This means one should sometimes train with light loads moving at high speed, and sometimes with heavier loads moving at a slow speed. Heavy loads (greater than or equal to 80% of “1 rep max” (1RM), or how much weight someone could maximally lift one time) are suggested to improve maximal power output even though the movement speed is slow. This is due to the large correlation between maximal strength and power production (i.e. the “force” part of the power equation). Additionally, light loads (0-60% of how much weight someone could maximally lift one time) are also highly recommended in power training programs. This light/fast approach permits golfers to train movements at tempos similar to those utilized on the course (i.e. the “velocity” part of the power equation). A qualified performance specialist can help you determine the “optimal” resistance level that you should train with, varied based on the movement/exercise you are training. For example, resistance typically ranges from body weight in a push-up to 30–40% of 1RM with rotational med ball throw, up to 70–80% of 1RM in strength training movements.

How do you apply these principles of power? Here are some exercise recommendations for developing rotational power. Additionally, some exercise ideas are provided to address “negative” power (the ability to absorb high-power forces). Remember, without proper mobility, flexibility, and balance, your power outcomes will be limited.

Ideas for developing rotational power

  • Power Chops (weighted bars, or tubing moving up and down diagonally across the body in a variety of stability positions)
  • Dumbbell/kettle bell swings
  • Medicine ball throw variations: Slams, diagonal throws, chest pass, overhead forward, underhand forward, rotational, and punches.
  • Tubing, pulley, or cable column punches and “rips” (fast pull down or row).

Ideas for developing “Negative” power (the ability to absorb force)

  • Rotational deceleration training (i.e. medicine ball catches)
  • Anti-rotation exercises (using tubing, cable column, or gravity)
  • Squats and lunges with cable column/tubing lateral and rotational stress (resisting rotation and collapse)

Ryan Stevens, MPS, ATC, CSCS
Manager: Athletic Training, Performance Fitness, Physical Therapy
RWJ Somerset | RWJ Hamilton


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