If you’re a seasoned golfer, you probably have painful memories of that time you forgot the sunscreen or when you made those embarrassing putts.
We all make mistakes.
But what about the mistakes we make more than once…the ones we don’t even realize we’re making?
Some of the worst golf swing mistakes are the ones that no one is even talking about!
Sports physical therapist of Fort Myers, FL Dr. James Porco, who has helped golfers of all levels (including PGA pros), shares a list of five common golf mistakes and how to fix them.
Mistake #1: Skipping the Warmup
Just like any other sport, you need to warm up your muscles first if you want to have a perfect, pain-free golf swing.
Even if you’re just going out to practice, you should warm up your body for at least ten minutes by walking, stretching, and practicing swings.
The warmup will help increase your range of motion and prevent you from sustaining a golf injury such as lower back pain or rotator cuff irritation.
A proper warm up is especially important on game day. If you’re hoping to have your best performance to-date, follow this pre-game warmup routine:
Arrive to the course at least an hour before the game so that you are not rushing to warm up or use the bathroom before the game.
Practice Your Putts (But Don’t Use the Holes!)
The putts are the area where most golfers fumble under the pressure.
Gain pre-game confidence and fall into a smooth rhythm early by practicing your putts as soon as you arrive at the course.
Just don’t putt into the holes. Nobody wants to see their ball miss the hole before the game.
Instead, aim the ball at a small marker such as a tee or a coin. Not only will this get you focused, but it will make the larger holes feel like a breeze during the game.
Spend about ten minutes putting to the small marker from different angles. Start about 20-40 feet away and work your way down to about 3 feet away.
Then, spend a few minutes simply practicing 6-inch putts uphill. This will give you pre-game confidence as you visualize the ball going into the hole each time.
Test Out the Course
Getting a good feel for the course before the game will give you an idea of how the ball rolls on different parts of the course, such as the hard and soft greens.
Practice putting for about 10 minutes around the green, aiming to a small marker again rather than the hole.
This will save you the guesswork of finding the best greenside shots during the game.
If you had to only choose one part of the warmup routine, stretching would likely provide the greatest benefits.
When its time to swing, you want to have a full range of motion. Stretching will loosen and warm up your muscles to prepare you perfect swings.
Practice Short Wedge Shots
Practicing a few minutes of wedge shots will help you gain the coordination and balance for a smooth golf swing.
Perform a few minutes of both smooth, short wedge shots and full, slow motion swings.
Don’t Stand Around
Standing around for a long period of time before the game makes the warmup meaningless. You should not stand around for more than a few minutes before the game begins.
Continue to do dynamic stretches to keep your body loose and ready for a great swing.
Mistake #2: Not Lifting Weights
There’s a common fear among golfers that lifting weights will make them bulky/immobile.
Not only is this fear TOTALLY FALSE, but not lifting weights means you’re missing out on one of the best ways to improve your swing!
Take note from some of the best and most famous golfers in the world: Rory Mcllory, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods…all of them have a workout routine that includes aerobic fitness, stretching, mobility exercises, and WEIGHTLIFTING!
Some of the best weightlifting exercises for golf, as practiced by the world’s top golfers, include:
- Deadlifts: There’s no better way to strengthen all of the muscles involved in a golf swing than with a basic deadlift. Some of the best pro golfers perform deadlifts to improve the power of their swing, their grip, and their posture.
- Dumbbell or Bodyweight Lunges: If you’ve ever stepped out of a swing, this one’s for you. Dumbbell or bodyweight lunges work the stabilizing muscles in your ankles, calves, quads, glutes, core, and shoulders.
- Medicine Ball Rotation Exercises: If you want to know the secret to gaining distance, this is it! Medicine ball rotation exercises such as Russian twists, side-throws, and back throws mimic the rotation of a golf swing, strengthening the muscles that you need to hit those long shots.
- Arm Overhead Press: Shoulder injuries are common among golfers who don’t lift. The arm overhead press will help you prevent shoulder injuries and give your shoulders a boost of strength for a powerful swing.
Mistake #3: Taking Your Back Swing Too Far
Yes, you CAN take your back swing too far!
And when you do, you will lose control over your swing.
Here are a few simple ways to fix a back swing that you’ve taken too far:
- Many times, backswings are taken too far when the forward swing begins too late. Focus on beginning your forward swing as a full-body movement that starts from the feet and travels up.
- Avoid letting your arms being the first body part to bend toward the ball.
- Make sure that your lower body begins the forward swing movement at the same time that your club, hands, and arms are moving towards the top of the swing
Mistake #4: Poor Posture at Setup
Of course, a great swing starts at the setup.
Many golfers take a foot stance that is too wide or shift their weight to the balls of their feet before taking the shot. Making these mistakes will hurt your balance, power, and lead to shank shots.
Here’s how to set yourself up for a great swing:
- Place your feet no more than two inches wider than the hips
- Balance your weight on your ankle joints, not the balls of your feet
- Before bending at the knees, hold your arms in front of your chest with your hands together while dropping your hips straight back
- Once you drop your hips back, you should be able to draw a vertical line from your ankle joints to your knees
- Once you draw the vertical line, slightly bend at the hips and knees, and let your arms to hang below the shoulders
Before you take your swing, you should feel stable. This means you could resist someone who tries to push you and you can wiggle your toes without losing balance.
Mistake #5: Training too Slow
Swinging a golf club requires a sudden burst of power.
Training too slow by practicing slow swings or by only lifting light weights with lots of reps, for example, is ineffective for achieving a powerful swing.
The most effective training will include explosive movements that target the three phases of a golf swing, which are:
- Eccentric phase: this refers to the slowing movement of the club toward the end of the back swing
- Isometric Phase: this refers to the short pause that happens at the top of the backswing before the transition towards the ball begins
- Concentric Phase: this refers to the quickening movement of the club towards the ball during the downswing
Some explosive exercises that target these phases of the swing include:
- Explosive Lateral Step-Ups
- Explosive Cable Pull Through
- Trap Bar Deadlift
- Medicine Ball Slam
No More Mistakes! We’ll Help You Eliminate Stiffness for a Smooth, Mistake-Free Golf Swing
If your golf swing is limited by stiffness, pain, or weakness, our expert team of physical therapists at Back in Motion Sport & Spine in Fort Myers, Florida, can help.
Our team has helped everyone from weekend warriors to pro-golfers overcome injury and achieve the perfect, pain-free golf swing.
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