Balance Critical Component To Good Golf Swing
By Dr. Chris Wicker, Master Certified Golf Fitness Instructor // April 1, 2012
IMPROVING YOU GOLF GAME
Golf & Balance
Balance is an important aspect of a good golf swing. With this article, I want to give you a little insight as to what controls our balance, ways to assess our balance, and finally exercises to improve our balance.
In the clinic we see many clients with poor balance and how it affects their gait. When it comes to golf, poor balance will affect the player’s ability to rotate their torso off the lower body.
Balance is comprised of the brain taking input from 3 places: the eyes, the inner ear, and our proprioceptive system. The eyes are pretty straight forward; we adjust how we move our bodies based on what we see.
The inner ear is a little more complicated. The inner ear has tiny hairs known as cilia which respond to movements of our head to tell the brain which way to right ourselves. If you have ever had vertigo, you know how this system can be affected.
The proprioceptive system is associated with our nervous system. In simplistic terms, this is our ability to interpret where our body is in space without visually seeing it.
For example, put your hand behind your back. You know it is there even though you cannot see it. It is receptors that are located within our joints that provide our brains with this information.
That is proprioception. If any one of these 3 systems is affected then our balance can be compromised. In golf, this with be seen in the golfer that falls forward or back during the swing, hangs back in their swing, and/ or shows a slide of the lower body during their swing.
The feet are the only part of the golfer touching the ground so if his balance is off, how stable is the golfer to the ground? Without a solid base, the golfer will be unable to properly turn through their swing. How do we assess our balance then?
It is actually quite simple. During the TPI assessment we use this same screen. To start you want to stand with your eyes open on one leg. Bring the other leg up to 90 degrees at the hip.
Now close your eyes and time how long you can maintain your balance. Perform this screen for the other leg as well. In many assessments, I see most people cannot maintain this balance for more than 5 seconds.
The average on PGA and LPGA players is about 25 seconds. This data backs up the fact that these professionals rely on that stable balance to be able to swing as solidly as they do.
To improve our balance, here are three exercises that could be helpful in improving your balance:
Single Leg Balance: A good exercise to increase balance and proprioception. To perform this exercise: Start by standing on one leg and getting into a stable posture. Once stable, try to balance yourself first with eyes open, and then try eyes closed.
Single Leg Balance Narrow Base: A good progression to the previous exercise. To perform this exercise: Start by standing on one leg and getting into a stable posture. Once stable, try to lift your heel up off the ground and balance yourself on the ball of your foot. This narrows your base of support and will really challenge your balance. Try this with eyes open and eyes closed.
Torso Turns One Leg: A good balance exercise that will also help to stabilize the lower body. To perform this exercise: Start by standing on one leg and getting into a stable golf posture. Lift your left leg and cross your arms over your chest. Trying to keep your lower body stable, begin to rotate your trunk back and forth and try to maintain balance. Repeat on the left leg.
If you have questions or want more ways to improve your golf fitness, see a certified TPI professional. Hopefully, through these exercises we can create better balance in your swing!
Chris Wicker – PT, DPT, OTR/L, TPI Cert. Golf Fitness Instructor. Wicker earned his bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Western New England College. He then received a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy and later his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. His doctoral focus is in manual therapy. Wicker joined Beachside Physical Therapy in 2003 to allow him to focus on the use of his manual skills in an outpatient orthopedic setting. Since then he has undergone extensive training in golf biomechanics leading to successful completion of his certification as a Golf Fitness Instructor through the prestigious Titlest Performance Institute. Wicker resides in Viera with his wife, Jessica, and his two sons, Camden and Jace.