I could have played better LEFT-HANDED today! I am sure there are days when we have felt like this statement is true about our own golf games. The world is made up 90% right-handers, 9% left-handers, and 1% ambidextrous people. I am very certain you have figured out your dominate hand and you are very set in your ways as a right-hander or left-hander, but what we are discussing is the advantages of balancing out the effects of one sided dominate sports and physical training.
Sports that require repetitive motions or one side dominate movements due to playing a sport from beside the ball or target such as, golf, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, and tennis can cause long term issues. These sports can cause physical damage to a player of any age or ability. Sports medicine doctors all over the country have seen an increase in the amount of ACL and MCL surgeries performed on young athletes over the past 5 years due to over training or repetitive sports motions. Just because you are not one of these young athletes training every day, some of you are players that have played one sport for more than 10 or 15 years and that qualifies as a repetitive movement athlete.
If you look at most golf swings you will notice that during their backswing their shoulders might turn anywhere from 45 to 95 degrees and as they finish their follow through they will maybe turn an addition 10 to 20 degrees further the other direction. This 10 to 20 degrees of additional rotation is where some players get in trouble over time and can see their distance start to decrease. When you play a sport over the span on 3, 10, or especially 20 years your body becomes “set in its ways”, meaning it doesn’t like moving outside of its comfort range. The long term effects of this repetitive motion over time can reduce your backswing 15 to 20 degrees of rotations with your backswing. This can obviously take off yardage over time.
Players such as Steve Flesch, a lefty, and Chris Kirk, a righty, play some of their winter golf from the other side of the ball and have become quit competitive. This is in effort to keep their bodies moving fluidly and to allow both sides of the body to be worked equally, so that the stress of a long season on Tour will not over time reduce the ability to have an equally balanced body rotation. This can assist in the longevity of their careers and make them more effective during the season.
Basically a few simple sports specific exercises can help. I say sports specific, because some golf specific training can limit balanced training that is required for golf. Think of it this way, young players train hard to help their bodies conform to positions, techniques, and ranges of motions that are required for optimal performance because their bodies have not developed completely. Basically that means we do not all have the same goals; remember you need to do what is best for your game and body. Players that have lost some mobility and fill as though they have lost some distance due to lack of upper torso rotation should consider some of the following stretches before playing.
LEFT-HANDED GOLF SWINGS
Taking a left-handed golf club and making several swings for a right handed golfer can assist in fighting the constant one sided motion that the game requires.
LUNGE HIP TWISTS WITH A HALF ROLLER
(See Fitness session under Articles for detailed descriptions)
This is one of the best ways to ensure that both your right and left hip joints are ready to play. This stretching exercise will defiantly point out which one of your hips are tighter than the other and can help explain what certain swing flaws take place in you golf swing.
These are just two simple ways to get started, contact me if you would like to put together a program to assist you regain you mobility or if you are a younger player looking to get stronger and more golf fitness prepared.