Fitness for Golf

Golf is a sport; golfers are athletes

Playing golf is a complex athletic challenge. It involves incredible coordination of arms, legs and trunk muscles, plus the ability to control your club, the ball and your body at the same time. The playing surface is rarely the same, as different grasses, terrains, bunker placements, hazards, and weather conditions can affect the game. The best players use physical skills and training to help them play the game better and more consistently. For young golfers, this means participating in a variety of athletic skills and undertaking training that will help them develop the ability to play the game at the highest level possible as they get older.

The optimum age for developing coordination skills is 8 to 12 years old. If you miss this window, it is very difficult to catch up. Parents can help kids with their golf development by playing throwing and catching games with them. As golf involves both the upper and lower body, playing soccer is a great way to develop control of the feet in the same way that basketball is for hand-ball coordination. Racquet sports are also great -- ball-and-stick games help develop the ability to use a club to hit the ball consistently but with imagination as well. Skipping can develop footwork, endurance and agility, but be creative with to further develop coordination – introduce fancy footwork (cross-over steps or hopping split-steps) and challenging rope work (cross-overs, skipping backwards etc). Skipping also helps develop fast-twitch muscles in the legs which helps develop power when golfers get older and need to hit the ball farther to compete.

When a child becomes proficient at an exercise, challenge them by making the exercise more difficult by throwing further away from them, above their heads, faster, using smaller balls, and so on. Golf involves both sides of the body; ask kids to catch, kick, and throw with both their left and right hands and feet.

As players develop and age, the physical training side of the game becomes more important and the following areas require more development: balance, flexibility, core strength and stability, posture, muscle strength and power, and general cardiovascular fitness. A golf match can last as long as a marathon race, but a point can last just a few seconds, so players need endurance (aerobic) as well as the ability to perform short, sharp bursts of activity (anaerobic). Golf training can also be specific to the sport, with activities such as jumping training, which develops explosive power in the legs. This new ability can be harnessed during the swing to develop more power and distance. If you feel your child is at the stage where he or she needs a more specific physical program, contact a fitness trainer in your area to get the best possible program for your child.

In addition to physical training, Golf Canada recommends that all young golfers perform a warm-up before play or practice. Warm-ups are vital to maintain a healthy body, prevent injuries, and to ensure that players are ready to perform their best every time they play or practice. For an example of a pre-golf warm-up routine, visit GOLF WARM-UP .  Your child should know the routine and be able to follow it on his or her own. Ensure your child arrives at practice or play sessions early to allow time for their warm-up, particularly before matches.
Golf is traditionally characterized as a relatively injury-free activity, without the risks of more rigorous sports. Unfortunately, golf is associated with a significant number of injuries, even in younger players. Golf stresses the body in unique ways, due to the repetitive nature of the golf swing. The most common areas of injury are the low back, elbow, shoulders, hands and wrists.

It is sensible to have players screened by a physiotherapist prior to participating in a physical training or serious golf practice. Physiotherapists can assess strengths and weaknesses in the body and recommend remedial exercises to make sure there is minimal risk of injury while playing, practicing, and training. This should be done once per year. A good physical training program will also help prevent injuries.

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Dealing with injuries