GFAA Best Practice: Incorporate Golf Fitness into Your Golf Instruction

Heidi Richardson, the 2020 Southern California PGA Section San Diego Chapter Teacher of the Year and two-time Section Award winner, is a PGA Teaching Professional at Encinitas (California) Ranch Golf Course.

Heidi Richardson on the importance of incorporating golf fitness into your golf instruction:

Golf instruction has certainly changed over the years. With today’s teaching technology, and the innovation built into equipment, golfers are constantly seeking increased distance off the tee. However, they often disregard the effort that goes into proper fitness, in favor of the ease and satisfaction of the latest and greatest driver. I highlight three primary areas (really just the tip of the iceberg, but a good starting point) to consider in their fitness – Balance/Flexibility/Strength. Balance is often the most challenging component in this formula, since many of my students are unable to keep their balance while rotating through the golf swing. I have even my most fragile students, whether due to age or body type, practice some simple exercises, such as standing parallel to a wall, rotating their upper body, while picking up the trail foot to simulate a finished position – a balance drill they can easily and safely work on at home. I utilize Indo Boards, a fun tool from the surf and skate world, with my junior golfers for a more dynamic and fun means of gaining balance. This focuses on attaining an athletic, balanced position, with proper hip tilt, knee bend and weight distribution in the stance, and while being able to rotate their upper body 90 degrees and maintaining the necessary balance on the backswing. I emphasize with all my students the need for proper hip and shoulder turns while maintaining balance, and then discuss the importance of balance when shifting the weight forward through the downswing, impact and follow through.

Heidi Richardson on the business impact of incorporating golf fitness into your golf instruction:

The importance of flexibility and strength should also be addressed within a golf lesson. You need to have abdominal strength to protect your lower back, and in your wrists, hands and arms in order to extend the club. Basic stretching exercises should be prescribed prior to hitting any balls on the range to extend the range of motion during the golf swing. Without these attributes, the golfer cannot get into the proper swing position with correct spine angle, and can’t extend their arms while rotating through the golf swing. Students see promising results when they can hit 30 balls in the sweet spot of the club face while maintaining balance. They experience growth as a golfer as their turn widens and swing speed increases. Many of my clients who have taken lessons in the past have never focused on a regimen that highlights their body positions over the golf club and ball. Of course, swing plane and club face angle at impact are foundational to a good golf swing, but they are in conjunction with, and sometimes secondary to our discussions of required body traits and movements to develop their golf swing. Finally, I stress the importance of our exercises in avoiding injury.

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