T Nation

Golf and Power Movements

Hey coach. Saw your golf swing for the first time on IG recently, and really dug your explanation of the snatch as a possible potentiator of the swing.

I’m a lifelong golfer (8 handicap currently) who has always used my performance on the course as a barometer of overall power/coordination/fitness. I’ve tinkered with the carryover between power movements and the golf swing as well, using kettlebell ballistics like so-called hardstyle swings (non-CF variety), high pulls, and single-arm snatches. The snatch always seemed to carry over best, although I’ve had some great results from doing slightly rotational swings like Clifton Harski shows in this post, occasionally using the free arm to push down the weight at the top and really load the hinge. https://www.instagram.com/p/B637wRKn5Hi/

My question: For someone who almost surely isn’t going to learn the Olympic lifts at this point, but has solid KB proficiency, what general strategy/priority would you use to guide training with golf swing power-building as a goal?

When I played competitively as a teenager, I had my best ball striking the summer where I started doing olympic lifting and still played golf.

My friend Jason Zuback (we are working on an article together), 5 times long drive world champion, power snatched 130kg (285lbs) and clean & jerked 172,5kg (380lbs).

I believe that the high pull from the hang would be a decent alternative to the power snatch. Hardstyle KB swings would also be beneficial.

BTW here is an updated swing. I was releasing the club too early in the video you saw. Now I need to work on hips rotation and leg full leg extension.

Also, broke my “record” this morning while focusing on hips rotation. After all practices I perform 3 “hard swings”, just to practice swinging as fast as I can while staying in control.

Granted it’s a strong lofted 7 iron, but still.

And here is something you might find useful.

I wrote this to the TXG guys who had problems answering a question about if strength training or the Superspeed club protocol was better to increase clubhead speed.

Of course, you need to know the TXG guys to get all the references, but I think it can still be useful.

I agree with you that few golfers actually see an increase in clubhead speed when they start training. But the reason is not that training is not effective, it’s more that they are not giving the body what it needs to improve.

The first level here is differentiating between what we see in most gyms, training for aesthetics or just looking and feeling better. You hit a few machines or exercises for 3 sets of 10-12, shower and go home. That will di exactly zero to improve your game. Unless you are extremely out of shape, in which case just becoming more functional will help you.

For training to be effective it needs to be specifically geared toward improving what YOU need to swing faster.

And that’s where people go wrong. Not everybody needs the same thing. The type of training you need will vary based, of course, on your structure (e.g. long arms/leg vs short arms and legs, injury history, physical limitations, etc.) but also on swing type.

I will get to the impact of swing type on training in a moment. But first I want to create three categories that will help us understand how training needs to be designed for each person.

I see three main roles in a golf swing along with 3 (or 4) main sections.

The 4 sections are:

  1. Lower body/hips
  2. Core
  3. Torso
  4. Arms

And the three main roles are:

  1. Power generator
  2. Anchor/power transmitter
  3. Stabilizer

This is obviously an oversimplification, but it will help you get a clear picture in a moment.

I also want to point out that a “section” will not only have one role in your swing, in various positions it can assume different roles. But it will have one main purpose when it comes to creating clubhead speed.

The role of the power generator is to act as the main driver of rotational speed. The main power generator can be the lower body (e.g. Rory), core (e.g. Dechambeau) or a mix of arms and lower body (Mickelson) or arms and core (Couples).

The anchor/power transmitter acts as a “solidifying” element to facilitate the action of the power generator. For example, if your rotational speed comes mostly from the lower body action, the core will be less active by itself, it stays more rigid, follows the action of the hips and allow you to transfer all the force created by the legs to the upper body and club.

In that case if the core is “weak/soft” some of the force you created by the lower body will be lost (imagine that your body is a tube in which you pour water, the water is the force applied. A weak core would be like creating a hole in the tube, water/strength will leak out and the result is less water/force makes it to the other end). But in that example the core is not a primary speed generator because if it rotates too fast your sequencing is off and the lower body cannot do its job.

In a core dominant swing, the legs are mostly there to ground you properly so that you can rotate fast with the core from a stable base.

The stabilizers are there to make sure that you can maintain a proper swing path and keep the clubhead in the right position. The hands/wrists are the most obvious stabilizers but the whole shoulder girdle plays a huge role here. And that’s why a lower skill golfer loses his positions when he tries to swing too fast: he his using his arms to generate speed, which is the wrong function for the arms and he gets out of position.

Take Matty for example, his main power generator is his lower body. Specifically, he creates a lot of ground force application, that, along with the weight/pressure shift creates rotation. The more force (and the faster the force application) he applies in the ground the more rotational speed he will have.

In his case, the core actually has limited contribution to rotational speed. It acts as the anchor/power transmission element. Essentially the core stays rigid. It still moves, but mostly it follows the rotation pull created by the lower body and by staying solid it allows you to transfer the force/power to the arms and the club.

The last piece of the puzzle is the arms and shoulder girdle which are simply stabilizing the club, making sure that it stays on plane even when under influence of a lot of centripetal force.

This is exactly like Rory or Bubba.

On the other end of the spectrum you have Bryson Dechambeau (and Steve Striker or Matt Kuchar for the old timers) and the one-plane/zero shift swingers out there. These guys have much much less ground force application. In their case the core has to take over as the primary power generator (and the arms will play a greater role too). For them, the legs are the anchor whole the core is the power generator. The core produces the rotational speed while the hips and legs follow (they do contribute, of course, but they are secondary).

And finally, you will have guys like Fred Couples and Phil Mickelson who use a lot of wrist hinge action to produce power. In their case the arms (specifically forearms/wrists) become a primary power generator, but since it’s much weaker than either the core or the lower body, it needs as lot of assistance from one of the other two (or both). A guy like Phil uses his legs more than Fred who uses his core more (which might be one of the reasons behind his back problems).

The point is that, just like with sequencing in the swing, improving something might not actually improve performance because it could throw off your dominance. For example, if you work on your swing and you improve your core rotation speed but you are primarily a lower body power generator, your sequencing will become out of whack and performance might actually go down even if you “improved”.

Same thing with training: if you work a lot on a section of your body but you train it for the wrong function in your swing, at best it will lead to no improvement and at worst it could make things worse.

That’s why a lot of golfers try serious training and see no improvements or even get worse. They are either not training the right things or not training them in the ratio and for the function that they need in their specific swing.

You don’t train a power generator the same way you train an anchor/power transmitter or a stabilizer. For example, a guy like Bryson might benefit from doing both heavy and explosive rotational work for his core whereas a guy like Rory might not see much out of it. But Rory and DJ could see great improvements from strengthening the legs and improving jumping capacity while Bryson won’t get much out of that.

Another example, A guy like Mickelson might benefit from forearm work whereas a guy like Bryson might do better with grip strengthening work (not the same thing). The former uses a lot of wrist hinge, the later maintain the same wrist position for the whole swing.

The thing with the Superspeed sticks (which I use), and I do consider it “strength and power training”, is that you are doing YOUR SWING (even with the drills you still maintain your natural sequencing), so even if you are trying to create maximal speed you do so in the way to your use in your normal swing. So, anybody will get faster, no need for individualization.

Of course, to be able to train in a specific manner you first need to acquire a general base of fitness. That’s where your typical gym program comes in. You must make sure that your body is prepared for the more demanding specific work, otherwise you won’t get anything out of it and you might even get injured.

Anyway, hope this clarifies a few things or maybe sparks some interest.

Keep doing an amazing job guys!

Maximum hip explosion… under control. The eternal chase.

In regard to the pro analysis, that’s fascinating, and not all that surprising. Golf swings are so anatomically unique, and each one is built both around the player’s strengths and weaknesses. I’ve found that building well-rounded grip strength (a major focus of mine for 2+ years now) has helped me add distance and boost directional control, but I’ve never subjected myself to the level of analysis that those guys are referring to. My general approach has been “add a little overall power, muscle, and strength where I can, and push grip strength specifically.” However, I could see different attributes paying off more or less over time.

Thanks for the insight. I’ll keep swinging. I’ve been liking a muscle/strength on Monday, power on Wednesday, isometric on Friday approach for a while now, after seeing that idea in an article of yours… somewhere. A little grip on Tu/Thu/Sat, and it all seems to go in the right direction.

that is some really great insight. Ok off to watch videos of bryson and freddie!

Bryson liking a pic of my son.

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he’s a big MAT and greg roskopf fan which makes sense him being so into biomechanics. He talks a lot about training the end ranges of motion and keeping the tension there to keep his range of motion. He likes to use the PRIME equipment. Any tips on how to do that with normal equipment besides isometrics?

Ha! and thats an awesome pic!

I just liked your pic of someone liking your pic.

Welcome to the matrix!

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A bit off the original topic, but how do you like those one-length irons? I’ve tried them in a simulator, and while everything felt good, I found that the yardages kind of “collapsed.” Basically, I could hit the 7 iron 180, but the pitching wedge 165. The length seemed to bring everything too close to the same distance. In other words, while I appreciate Bryson’s logic for playing them, I’m not convinced that they’d play well for me on the course.

That said, the idea of bringing the long irons down to 7-iron length and keeping the short irons shorter makes plenty of sense.

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My original “plan” was to build my own set and have the 4 - 7 iron at 6 iron length and GW - 8 iron at 8 iron length, mostly because I have a flat swing and always did more poorly with shorter clubs. But that would have been too complicated and not optimal.

On a simulator I hit the PW 155-160 too, 7 iron is normally 180-185, 5 iron 205-215 GW was 140. But in real life it is a bit different because of the amount of spin with the short irons. I went to the course for the first time today, but only hit balls. But even then, it’s hard to say because old battered range balls don’t have the same carry/flight/spin.

BUT just in case I also have M1 irons and might keep the 5 to 8 as the one length and GW - 9 would be M1.

Or keep in all one-length, but keep 4 wedges in. The one-length PW and GW and the M1 PW and AW (their name for the gap).