A Guide to Golf Fitness for Teens
In this series of five articles, I will be offer guidelines for golf-specific physical activity aimed at five different golfing demographics:
A teen’s body often feels strange, ungainly and uncomfortable to live in. Combine this self consciousness with a lifestyle that is increasingly centered around computers, phones and school work, and the solid upright posture that was demonstrated during their preteen years can rapidly disappear.
The increasing use of mobile phones is slowly dragging the posture of teenager's forward, in and down.
As trainers and golf coaches, we like to see good posture not only from a golf swing mechanics point of view, but also to ensure proper functional movement of the spine and the major joints in the body. A sloppy standing and seated posture will almost always be reflected in a golf swing with funky compensatory movements and poor control in basic gym exercises.
The first stop for any young teen who comes into either our golf academy or Australian state program is a postural analysis, followed by education and prescription of corrective exercises. It might not be glamorous or particularly fun at first, but we consider it absolutely essential for future development.
Nick working with an elite golfer on deep core control using pressure bio-feedback.
Once some postural education has been carried out, we move on to the basic gym exercises: push, pull, squat, lunge and brace. We prescribe an even balance of these exercises to ensure equal development and good awareness and control of the body in movement.
At first, these exercises use just bodyweight or very light loads, and almost always come with a high volume of repetitions. As mentioned before, the body is still growing throughout this period and it isn’t advised to repeatedly load the skeleton with heavy weight. The objective at this point is not to build a muscle-bound freak who pounds the ball 300 yards. We are still very much in the phase of developing a well-rounded athlete who has great body awareness, control and resilience to injury. We also recommend continuing to play other sports, as this will help develop coordination, joint stability and cardio-vascular fitness.
Mastering the fundamentals of gym movements is really important in the teenage years.
Neglecting the pillars of physical development — postural awareness, an introduction to the gym and participation in sports outside of golf — can lead to some worrying adaptations. “Reverse upper spine” and “crunch factor” are two fairly gruesome-sounding movements that we see leave their mark on the bodies of teen golfers on a regular basis. They are both attributed to poor body awareness and/or lack of strength when swinging the golf club. Lateral curvatures in the spine and injured shoulders and wrists are all too frequently the result.
A teenager displaying an adaptive shortening of the muscles in the right side of the body from hitting too many practice balls.
Best practice is to see a good, golf-specific trainer or physio in your area who can set you down the right path. In the mean time, click on the image below to get access to a basic bodyweight posture and functional movement program that will get you started.
Exercise guides for this program are available on the Golf Fit Pro App.
If you would like to access training programs designed to help developing teen bodies, then check out the following products and services from Nick at Golf Fit Pro: