This is an excerpt from Golf Anatomy-2nd Edition.
The movements that make the golf swing unique also make it challenging. The swing begins with the golfer at a standstill, feet and pelvis perpendicular to the target. The golfer then moves the club away from the target to the top of the backswing before powerfully accelerating toward the target. The golfer must then decelerate both body and club to zero and finish with the feet still relatively perpendicular to the target while most of the body is rotated toward or even beyond it.
This is an incredibly uneconomical and difficult body movement. Can you imagine telling a baseball pitcher, a shot put thrower, or a javelin thrower that movement has to begin perpendicular to the target, with the feet in the same position throughout the movement? These athletes would not only throw with significantly less velocity but also have a much greater likelihood of injury.
Elite ball strikers who have long careers and minimal injuries can effectively decelerate the golf club. All too often, players, golf coaches, and trainers focus on developing club-head speed with little to no concern for how the player decelerates the club. Even at the highest levels of golf, many players create incredibly high club and ball speeds but develop career-altering injuries as a result.
Players like Jason Day move through the swing with high velocity, but the efficiency in slowing down the club could be improved. An inability to slow the club down causes injuries, especially to the lower back, shoulder, and neck. Rickie Fowler has been working hard with his body coach, Dr. Troy Van Biezen, to improve his ability to decelerate. The results show because Rickie is better able to stay in balance through his finish, and his rate of injury has significantly decreased. Dustin Johnson creates tremendous club-head speed but is able to use his body effectively to slow down the club in a very short time, in part due to his work with his trainer, Joey Diovisalvi. Gary Woodland and Kevin Chappell use the DEAP Strategies developed by the DEPTH Systems (DepthSystems.com) to improve their potential to slow down these incredible speeds over very short distances. Extraordinarily efficient!
Being unable to decelerate the club brings injured players of all ages and from all levels to our training and treatment centers. One of the keys to implementing a return-to-sport strategy is to address the body's ability to decelerate, using the joints, muscles, and connective tissues to minimize the stress on these tissues. This requires the golfer to control each joint through the necessary range of motion and develop the proficiency to resist and decelerate force by improving the resiliency and function of tissues. Forces are better dissipated throughout the body, minimizing the stress placed on any one tissue. Examples of easy, helpful preparation exercises that improve segmentation include shoulder blade circles, foot pronation and supination, and segmental cat camel described in the warm-up, mobility and balance, and body awareness chapters.
Once a golfer has control of each joint complex, rotational resistance and deceleration are the next elements of focus. We can begin to focus on three main strategies:
- Resist force isometrically (rotational resistance)
- Resist force isometrically at one area of the body while performing dynamic movement at other areas of the body (dynamic rotational resistance)
- Decelerate force eccentrically
Learn more about Golf Anatomy, Second Edition.