With every consultation we perform, there’s one thing all golfers want as a result of their training: improved driving distance from the tee box. Longer shots are attractive, there’s no doubt about that. Longer shots lead to shorter lies, which hopefully lead to better scores.
Most recreational golfers think that training is just to improve overall health. While this is true, you can see dramatic improvements in your performance if you take the right approach to your time in the gym.
If we want to drive the ball further, we need to figure out what might be limiting your distance. Without addressing swing mechanics, here are two factors that might be preventing the extra yardage you’re looking for.
You’re Not Strong Enough
Strength is one of the key foundations to hitting a golf ball longer. If you’re not strong, there’s a good chance you aren’t hitting 300-yard drives down the fairway. Being able to produce force throughout the entire kinetic chain is the determining factor whether or not your yardage improves or not.
Now, you don’t have to be a 600-pound deadlifter to be a good golfer. At some point, there’s a threshold of maximal strength that will carry over into your ability to exert force in the swing. This is why you’ll never see an elite-level powerlifter smoke a ball off the tee.
You’re Not Powerful Enough
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “what’s the difference between being strong and being powerful?”
The words strength and power aren’t synonymous, believe it or not. Strength, in a weight room setting, is your ability to move a certain amount of weight with an exercise. Power is how fast you're able to move the weight at hand. To keep it simple, power is determined by how quickly you can move an external resistance. If you train movements slowly, you can’t expect improvements in velocity with any athletic endeavor.
To take this a step further, you also have to understand that power is plane-specific. There are three planes of movement: sagittal (linear), frontal (lateral), and transverse (rotational). The golf swing occurs in the transverse plane, which means we have to train transverse-focused movements to see carryover.
While sprints, jumps, and Olympic lifts, are great for power development, they’re not necessarily going to improve your golf swing. Similar to the powerlifter comparison before, an Olympic sprinter’s power output isn’t going to translate into a rotational movement. Rotational movements at high velocities will be your best bet if you’re looking for a more powerful swing.
It’s important to be strong and powerful in all three planes of motion, regardless of what sports you play. We don’t suggest you just focus on one plane while neglecting the other two. A healthy balance of all three will help improve your general physical preparation, while just a handful of sport-specific drills will be the icing on the cake for the skill you're trying to improve.
Here’s what a training session might look like for one of our golfers:
A1.) Rotational Medicine Ball Scoop Toss 3x5/side
A2.) Honest Hip CARs 3x3/side
B1.) Trap Bar Deadlift 4x5
B2.) Yoga Push-Up 3x8
B3.) Plank w/ Arm March 3x6/side
C1.) KB Goblet Lateral Lunge 3x8/side
C2.) Wide-Stance Anti-Rotation Cable Chop 3x8/side
C3.) DB 3-Point Row 3x8/side
D1.) DB Farmers Walk 3x40 yards
D2.) Prone Shoulder End-Range Lift-Offs 3x(3x10 seconds)/side
Here's another example of a superset we use regularly with great success.
You’ll notice that the above program has a variety of different movements. As I mentioned earlier, we don’t just focus on rotational movements with our training. Our mission is to get stronger with fundamental movements that coincide with our rotational work. The stronger our movement foundation is, the more opportunities we have to improve power output with our medicine ball training and golf swing.