Karen Harrison is the Director of Health and Athletic Development at the International Junior Golf Academy in Orlando, Florida.
Matching the technical aspects of the golf swing with the physical characteristics and capabilities of the individual swinging the club is an important part of the maturation process of our young golfers. This objective, however, does not only apply to junior golfers like those we serve at the International Junior Golf Academy (IJGA), but to golfers of all ages and abilities.
Our first semester begins with a thorough assessment of golf skills and physical proficiency. Our physical competency test (PCT) is usually repeated twice during the year to measure progress while documenting where each individual needs to focus his or her attention in training. We evaluate many aspects of general posture, stability, flexibility/mobility, whole body strength, single leg stability, bracing, hinging and more. Linking their physical characteristics/ability with swing technique is not only critical to programming, but in motivating the individual to do the work required to make changes necessary to enhance overall performance.
The golf coaches also monitor data presented by the fitness professionals to ensure the student is physically capable of doing what is asked and, if not, the efforts continue to get those physical abilities to match up with the technical goals. Golf coaches may even develop motion drills in collaboration with fitness staff using a variety of teaching aids to jointly develop technical and physical skills.
While all gym facilities may look different, to effectively offer a high-quality physical training program, there are some tools we favor to aid in the development of our young golf athletes, especially when we consider that we are preparing them for college. First, with 90 students, having enough space is vital to our program’s success. We are fortunate to have a covered structure outdoors and an indoor facility, each populated with different equipment.
We frequently use dumbbells and kettlebells, suspension trainers (e.g. TRX), Superflex resistance bands, a Keiser Cable Machine, chin up bars and, to a lesser extent, sleds, slide boards and yoga balls. For power training we often employ medicine balls and boxes during training sessions. More advanced work may include the use of Olympic Bars (e.g. squats and deadlifts), and a variety of soft tissue tools like foam rollers, sticks, lacrosse balls, thoracic wedges, massage guns and other tools are always available.
At IJGA, we aim to address the full breadth of our students’ golf fitness needs and collaborate with our golf coaches to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Ultimately, we all strive to provide a well-integrated product that results in our students playing better golf and becoming more resilient athletes.