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  • Writer's pictureDr JP Guidry DPT CSCS TPI

Are you using the ground?

Using the Ground Better for Golf

Today we are gonna talk about using the ground in the golf swing. In the golf swing, there are lateral, rotational and vertical forces involved and each leg contributes to these forces as a whole differently. Today we are going to focus on improving vertical thrust. This is gonna be a quick overview but as we gather more information, a more detailed discussion on all these forces and how they work in the swing will be done. I have been fortunate enough to learn under James Leitz P.G.A. and with the use of his Smart to Move research-grade force plates we have been able to start to get a lot of information on these forces at every part of the golf swing.  We are still in the process of learning and gathering data. 

Vertical Force

What is it? It is the vertical force applied into the ground especially via the lead foot during the downswing or jumping. It occurs when the body, especially the left knee, starts to extend upwards with the left hip all while rotating towards the target. But it is set up by deweighting or the body’s center dropping down first, in other words squatting.  In short, if you don't or can't squat then you cant jump.

Our net weight relative to the ground is always changing during a golf swing.  It’s easy to test this by stepping on a scale that has a dial to read weight (not digital).  Try squatting down and then standing back up straight very quickly. As you go downward, the scale will make you seem much lighter – almost weightless if your body fall were to approach the speed of gravity. Then as you go upwards, the scale will spin around to nearly double your bodyweight if you go hard.

What we are starting to see in terms of vertical force is that longer hitters are deweighting (squatting) and creating vertical thurst (jumping) earlier in the swing and with greater magnitudes than even high-level players that are shorter. Also, the transition time between the max deweight and max vertical thrust is shorter for the longer hitters. What this means is that if you are struggling with this. then feeling the sit or squat especially into the lead leg earlier in the takeaway and exploding up and around using the lead leg to create this vertical force while rotating may help create more speed.

How do we learn to use the ground better?

One way is to drill using the feeling described above. This aspect is better addressed with a teaching pro especially someone who understands ground reaction forces. Where I can help is in the gym. For starters, exercises that get you into and out of the ground and stronger in those patterns is a necessity. Things like deadlifts, squats, lunges, split squats with moderate to heavy loads and lower reps is a good place to start. Think 3 to 5 sets of 5 reps for these.

Next is adding speed to these movements by keeping the same exercises and lightening the load with goal controlling the lower and exploding up as fast as possible while staying in control of the movement. 

Lastly, is a sole focus on speed and power using jumps and med ball throws. Focusing on vertical jumps, vertical/rotational jumps, box jumps double and single-leg versions, as well as med ball, throws with a concentration on using the ground to create the movement especially thought the lead leg.  Remember med ball throws are not a golf swing so don't try to make them that, the point is to use the lower body and the ground to create the throw.

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