The golf swing is a reflection of our movement capabilities. If you have physical limitations in mobility, stability, strength, power, and speed, your golf swing is going to reflect this. If golfers truly want to make a meaningful increase in clubhead speed, they need to address the way their body moves.
Why Golfers Must Train for Speed
In order to increase clubhead speed, we need to teach the body to move faster. Training for speed should be specific to the task at hand, although it does not need to mimic the golf swing. Golfers should develop speed and power in multiple planes of movement in order to maximize their potential to move as fast as possible.
In the fitness world, we look at 'power' as how quickly we can develop the most amount of force possible. Building strength will help us to increase the amount of force we can create, but it won't necessarily help us develop speed. Training for speed means moving our body as fast as possible to achieve the task at hand. So to accomplish this, we usually do so with light to moderate external resistance (weights, bands, etc). We keep the resistance relatively low so that we move our body faster. The specificity of speed training is critical!
In order to develop speed in the golf swing, we need to create a large amount of force from our lower body's interaction with the ground. We then need to use that force and transfer it through our body quickly. If we do this in an efficient sequence, we can generate a huge amount of clubhead speed at impact. Our training should create context for the golfer to feel what it's like to create speed in multiple movement patterns. This will have carry over to the golf swing and swing speed will start to increase!
Ways to Train For Speed
There are a few training techniques that we can choose to train for speed. A well rounded golf fitness program has aspects of each of these techniques to maximize speed potential.
Plyometrics include jumping, sprinting, reactive medicine balls throws, etc. Plyometrics utilize the Stretch-Shortening Cycle (SSC) to generate force with maximal speed. The SSC refers to a quick pre-stretch of a muscle followed by a powerful contraction. The pre-stretch allows the muscle to store elastic energy. Think about shooting a rubber band with your fingers... it will go farther if we quickly stretch the band before shooting it.
Power development focuses on creating maximal force as fast as possible. We can train power development with exercises such as rotational med ball tosses, olympic lifts, and velocity-based training.
Training for power differs slightly from plyometrics in that we usually will come to a complete stop before going into the next rep. This minimizes the effect of the SSC, forcing us to focus on generating maximal force and speed from a stand still.
As I've written about in previous blogs, a strength training program is a great way to maximize speed potential. Check out the link to that blog to learn more about key priciniples of strength training for golfers!
Taking Speed from the Gym to the Course
Like I said before, developing maximal clubhead speed is a very specific task. If we want our training to have the most carry over to the course, we eventually have to get as specific as possible. Once we've built a solid foundation of strength, power, and speed we can then address any underlying technical issues that may be draining the speed from our swing.
We've unlocked our speed potential and now it is time to hone the skill of speed in our swing.
A great way to do this is to practice swinging with maximal speed. Speed training for golfers utilizes overweight and underweight golf clubs to teach our body how to generate maximal speed with efficient sequencing.
Fit For Speed
Adam Kolloff and I developed an online training program, Fit For Speed, to help golfers increase their clubhead speed and distance. This program combines golf fitness, swing lessons, and speed training to maximize golfers ability to create speed. Sign up below to receive updates about the program and be the first to take the next step to maximal speed!