Let's discuss some of the basic principles of working with juniors in the gym to improve their golf swing. First of all, it doesn't matter what your chronological age is! What matters is your developmental age. In other words, I don't care if you're eight years old, 12 years old, or even 16 years old, you can't build on something that has not been developed first.
I think of building a junior golfer like building a house. Certain steps must be performed along the way to make sure that the house is structurally sound, provides adequate shelter, and is practical to the homeowner. If any of these key steps are skipped or ignored, sooner or later the house will need to be torn down. Let's go over the key steps:
1) Clearing and Excavation: On any building project you first prepare the land and dig the hole for your foundation. This first step involves removing any obstacles or barriers that would prevent you from building a solid foundation. This first step involves the nervous system. One of the fundamental building blocks that should be the cornerstone of a beginning junior program is basic coordination and motor skill development. By working on simple hand eye coordination drills, cross crawl patterns, hopping, skipping, jumping, twisting, swinging, and throwing you are developing your nervous system. Many kids today spend their afternoons playing Nintendo or video games instead of outside on the playground developing these basic skills. Coordinating these fundamental movements should be mastered early in the program. This is why cross-training with other rotational, throwing, or target related sports are highly encouraged.
Sample Exercises include: forwards skips, backward skips, karaoke steps, lateral hops, throwing and catching a ball, fast crawl, backward crawl
2) The Foundation: Once the lot has been prepared, the next step is to build the foundation. This second step involves the musculoskeletal system, the fundamental building blocks for a championship golf swing. In order for the body to work in an efficient manner you need to have proper mobility and stability throughout your body. Mobility is the combination of joint range of motion and muscular flexibility. As the bones grow and the muscles lengthen joint restrictions and muscular tightness can develop. It is important to include exercises that move all the joints through full ranges of motion in a dynamic fashion. Stability is the combination of balance, strength, and muscular endurance. All three components can be addressed from a fitness standpoint. Keep in mind, mobility and stability can be developed to the highest level using body weight training only.
Sample Exercises include: deep squats, arm circles, forward lunges, windmills, forward planks, side planks, bridges, reverse crunches, push-ups, pull-ups, Swiss ball progressions, single leg balance drills
3) The Walls: now that you have a solid foundation of mobility and stability we can start to build the structure itself. From a training standpoint, this is what I call the functional stage of development. Once you have good mobility and stability, now the question is how big of a building can we build with this new foundation. In other words, how fast can you run, how high can you jump, how far can you throw a ball, how fast can you swing the club. This is the stage that most juniors enjoy the most. Throwing medicine balls, explosives sprints, vertical jumps, and power development can all be incorporated into fun activities. Once again, minimal weights are required to develop function in the junior athlete.
Sample Exercises include: medicine ball sit up and throws, medicine ball chest pass, medicine ball side throws, medicine ball split stance throws, box jumps, lateral bounding, vertical jump, interval sprints, clap push-ups
4) The Roof: the final piece of the house is the roof. In this analogy the roof of the building represents the skill development/coordination phase of the program. Now that you have a good base of mobility and stability and you've developed some power and speed through functional training, it is time to put all these movements into a coordinated skill. This is where fine motor control skills and golf swing motions become a part of the training program. Learning how to use all the parts in a coordinated fashion is the ultimate goal of the entire program.
Sample Exercises include: weight shift drills, wrist re-education drills, light weight club swings, heavyweight club swings, torso turns, ball striking
By following these simple steps in this particular order you will see the best results in the shortest period of time. These routines are safe for all levels and all ages of golfers. For more information about Titleist Performance Institute, please visit www.mytpi.com.