At present there seems to be little research on balance and golf performance. Over the past few years there has been an emphasis on improving a golfer’s fitness and many programmes have been developed in this area, the newest development has been in functional fitness (Thompson et al. 2007). To some extent balance has been incorporated into some of these programmes (Lephart et al. 2007). The single leg balance test has been one test used to assess both recreational and elite golfers where elite golfers have been shown to have better balance.
Balance can have an effect on your rhythm, swing path, swing plane and timing, and can therefore affect your positioning throughout the golf manoeuvre. Koslov (1994) had studied the weight shift patterns of 30 novice golfers and found that 22 of the golfers swinging a driver and 25 of the golfers swinging an eight iron used a compensatory center of gravity weight shift pattern instead of the regular rear foot to front foot weight shift from the top of the swing to impact, whereas with the very good amateur golfers tested, the shift in the centre of gravity correlated to a faster club head speed.
In a study by Hosea et al (1990) Professional golfers were also able to utilise less muscle activity but produce more club head speed than amateur golfers. The professional golfers had improved motor skills over the amateur golfers through better balance therefore enhancing better weight shift over the base of support for the transfer of synchronised movement throughout the body.
Research shows us that learning balance and coordination skills in a young athlete’s life are important to maximise athletic ability later in life. Missing out on these fundamental movement skills can prevent an athlete achieving their full potential. Jason Drabik a professor of the University School of Physical Education points out that the critical age to develop coordination is between 10-13 years of age. Movement skills are important throughout life to enhance your sport and as an adult, learning these skills will help you in your sport and can be improved with training. Professionals may find that training balance will have an effect on their performance but as Dr Klawans points out, learning these fundamental skills later in life may be more difficult.
A study by Donatelli, R. et al (2011) tested the differences in postural control between very good amateurs and professional golfers and found that single leg balance with a trunk rotation was better in the professional golfer than the amateur. The authors suggested further research into postural golf balance was needed. Queen et al (2012) also looked at the weight transfer in both low and high handicapped golfers where the low handicapped golfers had improved timing with ground reaction forces through the golf swing. The researchers suggested that improving the weight shift patterns should improve the golf swing.
Overall, dynamic balance has some part to play in the training of the golfer. If you are not training it, then it may be a valuable tool to help you improve. With our dynamic movement skills system we use specific drills to help improve weight transfer and body awareness for improving balance for the golfer. For further information watch our video clips on our blog, or contact us for information.
Koslow, R. (1994) Patterns of weight shift in the swings of beginning golfers Percept Mot Skills. Dec, 79 vol 3 Part 1 pp.1296-8.
Hosea TM, Gatt CG, Galli KM, et al. (1990) Biomechanical analysis of the golfer’s back. In Donatelli, R. Carp,K. Pagnacco, G.and Adam, J(2011) Original research: Skill level and balance in golf. Lower extremity Review
Thompson CJ, Cobb KM, Blackwell J. (2007) Functional training improves club head speed and functional fitness in older golfers. Journal Strength Conditioning Research 21(1) pp.131-138
Lephart, S M. Smoliga, J M. Myers, J B. Sell, T C. Tsai, Y S (2007) An eight-week golf-specific exercise program improves physical characteristics, swing mechanics, and golf performance in recreational golfers. Journal Strength Conditioning Research 21(3) pp.860-870
Donatelli, R. Carp,K. Pagnacco, G.and Adam, J(2011) Original research: Skill level and balance in golf. Lower Extremity Review.
Queen, R. M. Butler, R J. Dai, B. Barnes, C. L (2012) Difference in Peak Weight Transfer and Timing based on Golf Handicap Weight Shift in Golf Swing. Journal Strength Conditioning Research December