5 Athletic Skills for Better Golf
Whenever the average person thinks of a golfer, they immediately think of an overweight, middle-aged man drinking beer and smoking a cigar on the course that has no business being called an athlete. Think John Daly without the incredible golf swing and ability to absolutely smash the ball.
The reality is that view of golfers is changing. If you look anywhere in competitive golf, those men, women, boys, and girls are athletes. You have to be to stay competitive at any level now. But why do golfers have to be athletes?
Here’s 5 athletic skills that translate directly into your golf game:
Power in the golf game may be the most important skill in golf today. 12 of the top 15 golfers in the world are in the top 20 in strokes gained off the tee in 2021. When you can hit the ball farther than your opponents you give yourself a pair of advantages. First, you have a shorter approach shot and can better control that shot to get closer to the pin. Second, you have the mental advantage by putting more pressure on your opponent who may be intimidated by getting out-driven all day. Anyone can add power, no matter their age or injury status in 3 simple ways.
Being strong is an important skill in multiple ways. Strength is one of the three building blocks for developing power. I.e., you can’t have a lot of power without a base level of strength. It also helps in situations where you may need to muscle to ball out of a bad lie.
Balance is a contributing factor in controlling your body while you shift your weight from trail leg to lead leg. If you have poor balance, you start to lose stability in your body to whip the club around in the swing. This can lead to inconsistent shots and misses you don’t want in your game. Balance is even more important once you end up in an awkward lie. Whether it’s downhill, uphill, above or below your feet, in the sand, one foot in the sand, or one foot in the water, if you lose your balance, there’s not telling where the ball could go.
Most people think of conditioning as the running you do at the end of a team sport practice. However, conditioning should be considered as the ability to stay near a 100% performance level throughout the length of a competition. In golf this means the ability to give a maximal effort in a short time period for the 30-40 full swings you take per round without that effort faltering. No, that doesn’t mean you need to go run wind sprints until you puke, but there are protocols to train the energy system needed for golf with short sprints. It’s also the same energy system that allows you to produce power, so golf conditioning is a two-for-one.
Movement skills might just be the most important athletic aspect to your golf game. Movement capabilities cover your mobility (or flexibility) plus stability—the ability to control that mobility with strength. Becoming a great mover is the key to keeping your swing consistent. If you improve your mobility and stability, you can start narrowing your misses and playing better golf because of it.
If you’re lacking in any of these 5 skills, you could be at a competitive disadvantage. Since you can improve any of these skills (usually starting with the biggest weakness), you can easily make yourself a better athlete and a better golfer because of it.
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