The Value of the Warm Up

So yesterday I had the chance the play a round of golf with a buddy, Jim, and he invited a couple of friends which was great. I actually knew one of the guys from many years ago at a gym in downtown Kelowna called Flex Fitness. Anybody remember that place?

Anyways Jim and I planned to have lunch on the course and then hit a few balls before teeing off. Well we got involved in conversations about travel and other things that we didn’t realize that we hadn’t gotten our food and we had about 10 minutes until we were due up at the first hole.

Needless to say we didn’t hit any balls at the range and went straight from the restaurant to the first tee where we both proceeded to find the sand. While it was a beautiful day I would have been okay with the middle of the fairway rather than the beach.

To summarize the round I was about 11 strokes better on the back nine than the front. And I attribute a large part of this difference from a lack of a warm up before playing.

And it got to thinking back to a study I had read in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research which had 30 military cadets performing a number of agility and power tests after either:

* a dynamic warm-up
* a static stretching warm-up
* or no warm-up at all

The tests were a T-shuttle run to measure agility as well as a medicine ball throw and a jump test.

What they found is that the dynamic warm-up group outperformed the other two groups on all three tests. There was no significant difference between the static stretching group and no warm-up group on the agility or med ball throw but the static stretch outperformed the no warm-up group on the jump test.

So what would this look like on the golf course?

Well for golf you want to have great hip, upper back (thoracic) and shoulder mobility. To promote each of these are a few drills to try.

For the hips take a large stride forward and push the forward knee out while trying to straighten the trail knee. Do each leg 4-6 times.

For the upper back stand in a split stance and hold an iron with an inverted grip. This just means one hand will be under hand and the other will be overhand. In this case the forward leg will have an underhand grip with the same side hand. Next perform diagonal chops going from the trail hip over the lead shoulder. Do 8-10 for each side.

Lastly to warm up the shoulders hold an iron in front of the hips with your hands just outside shoulder width. Lift the iron up in front of the face. Once it passes the top of the head drop one hand to go behind the head and then repeat with the opposite hand to bring the iron behind the head. Try not to let the elbows flare out wide to the sides and imagine a glass of water sitting on top of the head. Do 6 each direction.

All three of these will take no more than five minutes. But they will give you some mobility where you need it for your first shot. Additionally it will start to wake up your nervous system that you are about to perform and allow you to be a little more accurate on the course.

This weekend I get another chance to play a charity golf tournament down in Spokane. You know I’ll be sure to loosen up and hit a few balls before stepping up to the first tee.

Chris [fb-like]

McMillan et al. 2006. Dynamic vs. Static-Stretching Warm Up: The Effect on Power and Agility Performance. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 20(3) 492-499.

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