February 24, 2014
One of my joys in coaching is being able to take truths of Applied Functional Science and see them in action while playing a sport. Since our February Gymnazo Golf Tournament, my wife and I have been working on our golf game. As a beginner, she often asks me questions about her stance, back swing and gets mystified when she feels she’s done it the same way time and again, yet the ball soars off in an unintended direction. To be honest, everyone who has ever played golf relates to this.
Golf is one of those very complex and fine tuned sports that takes persistence to perfect. The golf swing looks so fluid and graceful when done correctly, but it’s a complex chain reaction of movements. There are a lot of small things to consider in the golf swing.
Applied Functional Science shows us that the golf swing works in three planes of motion and to perform this movement well, your body needs to be fluid in all three directions of movement. As soon as you grab the club and swing it back, you’ve engaged many muscles and joints causing a chain reaction from your hand to your feet. The golf swing combats gravity, ground reaction force and mass of momentum, using your hands to drive the movement.
Playing 18 holes is a commitment to practicing this movement hundreds of times in a couple hours. Doing so over and over again, as a Gymnazo coach, reminded me again of the importance of balance to the golf swing.
It’s All About Balance
Balance is one of the keys to mastering the golf swing. Balance is something we were born trying to master. Losing and gaining your balance actually turns on motion in your body, which turns on proprioceptors and builds muscle. Controlling balance is key to guiding the ball with your club where you want it to go.
As soon as you use your hands as the driver, you’re taking your body outside your center of gravity behind you. To get your backswing you have to lose your balance and then control that energy before ripping into the ball, where you lose your balance to complete the swing and then stabilize at the finish.
How Do You Test or Improve Your Balance?
Since controlling balance is best seen in movement patterns, it is not good enough to stand on one leg for 30 seconds and test your control. We need to test your balance in movement, because that is how you are using it when you do something like swing a golf club. In Gymnazo we call our balance assessment the Balance Matrix.
It is an integral part of our daily warm up routine. We perform this assessment before every workout, because balance is so key to functional training.
We have filmed our warm up to be used at home, on a field or before a golf game. The Balance Matrix is included in the video (start at 0:58 for just the balance matrix) and we encourage you to use these movement patterns to assess and strengthen your balance, particularly if you are looking to improve your golf swing!