Want to improve at golf? Here is some great advice from fitness guru, Kathy Ekdhal (PesonalBestPersonalTraining.com) with three keys to improve your power and distance off the tee.
I had an extraordinary experience the other day! I drove the golf ball 20 yards further than I usually do! What did I do to make that happen? I think I was getting tired so I had stopped swinging too fast and too hard. My usual method, you see, is to “grip it and rip it!” And the results are usually what you’d expect. Woods, water and sand. But this time I had hit the ball easily, and with a slower swing. Duh????
This one drive was so different from all the others that day that it really made an impact on me, and I wanted to find out why. I called on Kathy Ekdhal for some fitness advice. What was going on? and what could I do to make it happen again?
Her advice was so good I decided to make it into a podcast which you can listen to here (just click on the play button) or download a copy, or listen on the GolfGurls Channel at iTunes.
If you’d rather read than listen, here’s a summary of my conversation with Kathy:
Tension is the enemy of good golf! And if you play with tension in your body, your golf shots are bound to be bad. Whether it’s tension in your back, your arms, your shoulders, your hands or your hips… your shots are destined for trouble.
Becoming physically aware of your body as you swing is key to better golf. If you’ve got tension in your body when you play, the first thing to do is become aware of your breath. If the tension is building and you’re feeling stress, check your breath first. Ask yourself: are you holding your breath? Are you breathing naturally or taking short quick breaths? When you are relaxed, your breath is natural, and your muscles are relaxed as is your mind.
#1 Breathing naturally and easily is the first thing to practice. It will keep you focused and in the moment. Practice off the golf course first, in your day to day life. Notice the situations where tension rises and your breath shortens. When those moments happen— take some long, deep breaths to relax. If you practice off the course with yoga, or meditation, you will quickly discover that on the course, it becomes automatic.
On the tee box, when swing thoughts cloud your mind, tension can come in. The action of slowly inhaling and exhaling automatically relaxes your muscles and your mind and allows you to be mindful in the moment.
Mindfulness and breath work… What breath work does is it actually sends a physiological response to your body telling it to relax and relieve the stress. Result: an easy swing and longer distance.
So breath work is #1
The #2 tip to help you gain distance and power off the tee is to identify the area of your body where you carry your tension. For some golfers, it is head and shoulders… for others, it’s the forearms or lower back. When you feel the tension and stress building in your body, focus on that area that carries the tension and breathe into it. Take a long, slow, deep breath. On the exhale, imagine that area releasing and relaxing.
And finally tip #3: Finding your tempo. Your club head speed coupled with control, equals your distance off the tee. And all that power for distance comes from the stored energy in your backswing. If you swing too fast, you can lose control and there’s little chance to store that power. You want to take your time. Go slow on the back swing… storing up power and then release the power into the ball. To help you with finding the right tempo… discover a phrase that helps you. Call it a tempo reminder — a phrase that has a 1,2,3 beat. 1 for the backswing and 2 & 3 for the downswing and follow through. An example might be, “ladies and gentlemen” or “slow and go”. Finding the right tempo will give you time to allow the weight shift, the torso turn and to build up stored energy for powering through the ball.
One last thought: Most of us have the same problem. We are not always body aware. You may not be aware of how fast you swing. Find a friend, or an instructor to be your objective observer to reflect back what you are doing. (Editor’s note: I know I have a really fast back swing. When the wheels fall off the wagon during a round, I’ll ask my golf partner to watch what I’m doing. It’s almost always the fast back swing that’s causing me trouble. When I slow down, things get back on track.)
So don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from your fellow golfers. But don’t give advice if it’s not asked for. A lot of golfers have what looks like a funny swing, but it works for them, so don’t interfere.
Bottom Line: How to relax on the golf course, relieve the tension of the moment and play better golf?
- Practice off course breath work that quiets your mind… it will translate to the course
- Discover where you carry your tension and breathe into it to relax
- Create a tempo reminder that works for your swing to slow it down!
What do you do when the tension builds? Are you even aware of it? How do you handle it? Share your advice in the space below. We welcome your ideas.