GOLF HEALTH 

Golf fitness: giving your child a head start

Strength, endurance and flexibility training have been proven to help adults improve their golf swings and prevent injury. It is also a way to help junior golfers improve their golf swings and build healthy joints, and bones. It is recommended that children and adoles cents participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity most days of the week, preferably daily. With a properly designed and supervised golf-specific program, they can improve their endurance, total fitness and sports performance and get the recommended exercise they need to grow up to be healthy adults.

The goal of a golf specific exercise program for children is not to increase muscle mass. Lifting heavy weights, powerlifting and bodybuilding are not recommended for children, but doing a few strength training, endurance and flexibility exercises specifically designed for children can help them improve bone density, strengthen their ligaments and tendons and can even help them prevent injury and speed up recovery.

To help your future Tiger or Annika develop hand/eye coordination and to develop physical strength, encourage them to do a few golf specific exercises. These exercises can help your child build a sense of balance, control, and awareness of their bodies.

(The best way to teach is by example, do these exercises along with your child not only to supervise them but to inspire them as well.)

There are a few rules that you should be aware of when it comes to exercise for children under the age of 18.

  1. Consult your child’s doctor before starting any exercise program.
  2. Children who are just beginning to be physically active should start out slowly and gradually build to higher levels in order to prevent the risk of injury.
  3. Fitness and exercise for children should be a fun and positive experience.
  4. Children under the age of 14 should not lift heavy weights.
  5. Always supervise your child when they are exercising.

WARM UP

First things first: teach your child the importance of warming up and stretching before and after exercise. Many juniors feel that warming up is for older or out of shape people with bad backs or stiff joints. But the fact is, as we age, our muscles shorten and tighten, so it is important for children to develop early habits of stretching before and after exercise to avoid these early signs of aging and help them prevent future injuries.

An ideal warm up for juniors includes doing an activity for 2 to 3 minutes that will increase their blood flow, which brings needed oxygen to muscles and joints. The easiest way for kids to do that is by jogging in place or doing jumping jacks. They could even swing a golf umbrella gently back and forth, gradually increasing the pace (photo 1). The ideal is to break a sweat to prepare muscles to be stretched.

Swinging an umbrella back and forth is a quick and fun way for juniors to warm up before they play or practice. a golf umbrella also weighs a little bit more than a regular golf club. Swinging an umbrella a few times will help strengthen muscles and train your young golfer to swing a little bit faster.

STRETCH AND STRENGTHEN

Once the warm up is complete, it is important to do a few stretches. Stretching improves the flexibility of the muscles and joints necessary for a smooth rhythmic golf swing. A complete program should include stretches for the legs, back, shoulders and arms. A great way for junior golfers not only to stretch but also to strengthen muscles is to use a resistance band (available at sporting good stores).

Resistance bands are ideal for conditioning juniors. Resistance bands stretch and strengthen muscles without building bulk and are less likely to cause injury.

RESISTANCE BAND STRETCH

  • Step on one end of the resistance band.
  • Hold onto the other end of the resistance band as if you were gripping a golf club.
  • Set up as if you were going to hit a golf ball.

  • Swing the band back to the top of the swing and hold for as long as you can.
  • Slowly swing the band to the follow-through and hold the finish for as long as you can.
  • Repeat this exercise as many times as you can to stretch and strengthen muscles.

FOREARM ROTATION DRILL

  • Stand in your address position holding a box of golf balls with your palms facing each other.

  • Slowly make a golf swing and repeat for 10 complete swings.
  • The weight of the box of balls will help you feel how your forearms should rotate as it will help you develop strength in the forearms, arms and wrists.

BALANCE AND CONTROL

An important aspect for any child learning and perfecting a skill is to develop body awareness and balance. an easy way to help your kids develop a repeating golf swing is to have them do stability and balance exercises.

BASIC ROTATION DRILL :

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart.
  • Assume address position, holding a club behind your back.
  • Slowly turn as if to make a back swing and stop at the top.
  • Hold position for as long as you can.
  • Slowly unwind body and rotate to the finish of golf swing.
  • Hold position for a long as you can.
  • Repeat exercise increasing the pace while staying in balance.

SINGLE LEG BALANCE DRILL :

  • Stand with feet shoulder width.
  • Place a golf club behind your back.
  • Lift your right leg up and try to maintain your balance for as long as possible.
  • Repeat exercise on other leg.
  • Close your eyes and repeat exercise on both legs. closing your eyes makes maintaining balance more difficult, but is a good way to improve overall balance.
  • Start in your address position.
  • Lift your right leg.
  • Slowly swing the club trying to maintain balance and good form.
  • Repeat on other leg.

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