I receive many questions about the junior golfer and golf fitness programs. The questions are on a number of different topics, but they generally fall into three or four different categories. Typically the questions are; at what should a junior golfer begin utilizing golf fitness exercises, how often should a junior golfer implement golf fitness exercises, and finally what are the best golf fitness exercises for the junior golfer? Typically this last question is the most commonly asked question. This article is intended to provide some answers to the question; what are the best golf fitness exercises for the junior golfer?
First and foremost golf fitness exercises can be of great benefit to the junior golfer provided a few principles are adhered to in the development of such a golf fitness program. We are obviously aware certain exercises are beneficial to the golfer and others are not. Keep in mind regardless if you are a junior, professional, or senior the exercises within your golf fitness program should center upon developing the body around the golf swing.
This single principle indicates certain exercises are of greater benefit to the golfer than others. Generally speaking, the exercises should focus on developing your body to the positions, movements, and physical requirements of the golf swing. This equates to exercises developing the required flexibility, balance, endurance, strength, and power required of the golf swing. For example, we are fully aware the golf swing requires you to make a full shoulder turn. A portion of the ability to make a full shoulder turn is contingent upon the golfer’s flexibility (regardless of if you are a junior golfer or not). If you are lacking flexibility the ability to make a full shoulder turn, the golf swing will be compromised, and compensations may set into your golf swing. That being said, a portion of your golf fitness exercises, specifically your golf flexibility exercises will focus on developing a full and effortless shoulder turn.
The junior golfer is really no different than golfers of a different age when it comes to the basic principles of a golf fitness program. The goal of the golf fitness program is the same, and the physical components of the body to be developed are the same. The goal of the golf fitness program is to develop your body around the golf swing in order to create a more powerful, consistent, and accurate golf swing.
The difference for the junior golfer comes down to what are the best exercises within each of these categories. Typically the junior golfer is not as physically developed as an adult thus changing the exercise prescriptions that are best for them. Meaning, the categories to develop within the body for the golf swing are the same as the adult golfer, but modifications in certain exercises are required to counteract the physical development of the junior golfer.
Typically flexibility exercises for the junior golfer can be the exact same as for any other age golfer. Generally speaking, flexibility training is often much easier for the junior golfer to perform because muscles and connective tissues tend to be more flexible when we are young.
Progressing to balance exercises. Often the junior golfer is not as kinesthetically developed as an adult. Their bodies, control of the limbs, and knowing where the body is in space tends to be less developed at younger ages. For this reason we must modify some of the balance exercises to a lower level of difficulty. For example, a junior golfer may have difficulty performing an advanced airplane rotation found in my golf fitness book. As a result a modification may be required in the exercise. The adjustment could consist of keeping the junior golfer using the basic airplane rotation and adding more repetitions to increase the difficulty.
Another adjustment is usually required for the endurance, strength, and power exercises for the junior golfer. Golf fitness exercises found within these categories of training are geared towards increasing muscular strength, endurance, and power. In order to improve these components of the muscles in anyone (junior golfer included) we must overload the body with a higher workload than it is accustomed too. For example, if you were a bodybuilder and wanted get bigger biceps. You may choose to perform bicep dumbbells curls with a 50 lb. dumbbell. In the beginning this exercise may be very difficult to perform. The reason is the 50 lb. dumbbell is overloading your bicep. Over time the bicep gets stronger and the 50 lb. dumbbell gets easier to lift. This is an example of how to overload the muscles of your body to get stronger.
Many of these exercises to develop increased strength, endurance, and power can require the use of external resistance: In the form of dumbbells, elastic tubing, medicine balls, etc. The mistake with junior golfers is externally loading these exercises too much. For example, using to heavy of dumbbells for a certain exercises. The result is a compromise in form and loss of benefit from the exercise. For this reason, I have found it best for the junior golfer to use their body weight as resistance first. Then slowly progress to adding external resistance in the form of tubing, medicine balls, etc…
This format allows the junior golfer to progress in the development of their bodies for the golf swing properly. It allows them to focus on exercise technique and execution rather than the amount of weight lifted.
To recap, modifications for the junior golfer in terms of their program is required. It is a simple process if they are not overloaded with resistance or difficulty of exercise. The goal for the junior golfer is the same as any other golfer; develop the body around the golf swing. The physical components to be developed by a golf fitness program are again the same; flexibility, balance, strength, endurance, and power. The difference for the junior golfer lies within the implementation of the exercises within these categories in the golf fitness program.