Unstable Surface Training for Golf
Golf is skill and power based sport that is played on the ground. Yet when you look all over social media you see some high level golfers trained by supposed "high level" coaches standing, kneeling and swinging on unstable surfaces such as BOSU and Swiss balls. Why is this?
Well, when we look at the research we know that training on an unstable surface reduces force production compared to doing the same exercise on the ground. And any good coach knows that that one of the main reasons for training for golf performance in the gym is to increase and improve force production leading to increased power i.e. swing speed. So why would we want to have our athletes doing anything that leads to decreased force production.
We also know that training on an unstable surface can lead to altered motor patterns compared to doing the same movement on the ground. So therefore trying to swing a club or perform a movement on an unstable surface will lead to altered and undesired motor patterns. Once again why would we want to have our athletes doing such a thing.
Lastly putting someone on an unstable surface brings in increased risk of falling, especially when they are holding external resistance in their hands, with little to ne reward. Any good coaches primary job should be to protect their athletes health and safety first and foremost.
So when we look at all of this we know that training on an unstable surface leads to less force production, altered motor patterns and increased injury risk. Yet, why do athletes and coaches continue to perform these exercises. They will claim things like balance, stability, function or golf specific as their reasoning. These terms are frequently misused and often just a cover up for coaches who cant really defend why they are having their athletes doing these exercises. Golf is a land based sport and therefore should be trained for on solid ground. There is nothing functional or golf specific about standing on an air filled ball. And, if you want to improve balance and stability, work up to some heavy lunges, split squats and single leg RDL's and tell me you don't have adequate balance and stability for golf.
In the end, unstable surface training is not only a waste of time but brings about an increased risk with little to no reward. If you want to truly improve your performance on the course while in the gym then:
Dr. JP Guidry DPT CSCS TPI