Increasing Flexibility, Not Stretching, is the Fastest Way to a Better Golf Swing

It is a simple question yet one that is not easy to answer. I imagine that most of you come up with some definition that is something to the effect of "Flexibility is stretching, right?" That answer is partially correct. Flexibility training incorporates stretching techniques. However, it is NOT limited to traditional stretching, and the two terms cannot be used interchangeably.

We Should Talk About What Flexibility Means

According the National Academy of Sports Medicine, flexibility can be defined as the normal extensibility of all soft tissues that allow full range of motion of a joint. You will note that nowhere in the definition of flexibility is the word stretching used. To help further explain, understand, and clearly define flexibility, let us take the definition and break it down into three parts. The first part of the definition, "the normal extensibility," is best understood by thinking of the muscles in your body. Each muscle in your body has what is termed a "normal length-tension relationship." When the muscle is at its "normal length-tension relationship," it functions correctly. When the muscles contract and extend (i.e. when you "flex" your bicep in the mirror, your bicep muscle is contracting and your tricep is extending) they enable you to create movement of your skeleton. Often, athletes cause a disruption of the "normal length-tension relationship" through training, which leads to one muscle becoming shorter or longer than its normal length-tension relationship. When this happens, the body begins to have difficulty moving the skeleton in a safe and efficient manner, which will be magnified when trying to perform athletic movements.

The second portion of the definition of flexibility discusses "all soft tissues." This part of the definition is quite easy. As you know, the human body is comprised of numerous types of cells and tissues. Soft tissues are simply a categorization of certain types of tissues in your body including muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

The final part of the definition reads: "that allow full range of motion of a joint." Every joint (where two bones are connected in your body, i.e. shoulder, hip, elbow, etc.) moves through a specified range of motion determined by the design of the joint. The anatomical structure of a joint determines the amount, direction and type of movement through which a joint moves. This is known as the range of motion. To achieve a full range of motion, the surrounding muscles and connective tissue have to be flexible enough to allow the joint to move through that range of motion. To demonstrate what a full range of motion is, bend your elbow as much as you can (brining your hand as close to your shoulder as possible) and then straighten it. Each joint in the body has a range of motion that is unique to the design of the joint. For example, the shoulder joint is classified as a ball and socket joint, which has a range of motion of 360 degrees (a much greater range of motion than the elbow).

Once broken down, flexibility is simply defined as: every ligament, tendon, and muscle (soft tissues) in your body, having the correct length-tension relationship (normal extensibility) to allow every joint in your body to move through its full range of motion. This concludes the first part of this article. We now have a pretty simple working definition of flexibility. In the next section of this article we will discuss the question: "Why is flexibility important to the golf swing?"

The Real Meat of the Article?Flexibility and the Golf Swing

So now we have a "working definition" of flexibility. We probably need to discuss the golf swing briefly to create the connection between "your" flexibility and "your" golf swing.

Breaking down the golf swing, we know that it is categorized into different phases: address, take away, back swing, transition, down swing, contact, and follow through. Your local swing coach has probably discussed the importance of these phases of the swing in order to create a good swing. I am sure you also are aware that the body must "move through" these phases in a certain sequence for a correct swing to occur. The key phrase when it comes to the golf swing and flexibility is "move through."

Go back to the definition of flexibility. What does it tell you? In general, it says that every muscle, ligament, and tendon in your body must have the correct range of motion within itself to perform the activity you ask of it. Take that definition and place it upon what movements are required of the golf swing. It essentially states that your individual body MUST have the required flexibility parameters within every muscle, ligament, and tendon to execute the golf swing correctly.

Now the kicker question: what happens if your body does not have the needed flexibility parameters to swing a club on the correct path? Is the answer, "Forget about golf and go grab your fishing pole?" No, that is not the correct answer. Your body is a little smarter than that one wise-crack answer. If you ask your body to do something, nine out of ten times it will "try" to do what you are asking it to do. When your brain tells your body to do this and this and this in a certain order, your body is going to try as hard as it possibly can to complete the task. The task (in our case the golf swing) may get completed, but probably not exactly as we would like. In the golf swing, this results in shots that we are really not happy about (slices, hooks, blocks, etc.)

When the body does not have the needed flexibility to swing a club on the correct path is what we term "compensation." Compensation is the body's way of making up for inefficiencies it may have within it. If you do not have the flexibility properties in, say, your hamstrings for the golf swing, your body will create compensation patterns in your swing to "make up" for the lack of flexibility in your lower body. So the reality of the situation becomes that, regardless of how hard you work on your swing and how much you practice, until you correct the flexibility issues within your body it will be very difficult to correct your swing. So there you have it! The connection between flexibility and the golf swing is a very important connection if you are looking to make good shots on the course.

How do I get it?

We have discussed flexibility and the golf swing. You now have an understanding about the definition of flexibility, the importance of flexibility as it relates to the golf swing, and what happens if you do not have it (flexibility for the golf swing, that is). Now the final question to answer is: "How to I get it if I don't have it!" That is a question to answer in another article, or take a look at our web site www.bioforcegolf.com for more answers.

Sean Cochran is one of the most recognized golf fitness instructors in the world today. He travels the PGA Tour regularly with 2004 Masters Champion Phil Mickelson. He has made many of his golf tips, golf instruction and golf swing improvement techniques available to amateur golfers on the website http://www.bioforcegolf.com

Check out his manual and DVD, Your Body & Your Swing, ( http://www.bioforcegolf. com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=93 ) on BioForceGolf.com. To contact Sean, you can email him at support@bioforcegolf.com.

In The News:


pen paper and inkwell


cat break through


Golf Fitness Training Equals Better Golf

If you've watched any golf on the television you've no... Read More

Why A Modern Golf Training System Is So Effective

Gone are the days when a golf training system mainly... Read More

Golf Training Programs For Women

Golf training programs designed to help condition the body for... Read More

Driving the Distance with Quality Golf Equipment

Possibly the most important pieces of golf equipment are your... Read More

Golf Swing Training The Right Way

Golf swing training is a critical area in the improvement... Read More

Getting To The Core Of Your Golf Swing

At some point, almost all of us struggle with efforts... Read More

What Do the Core and the Golf Swing Have in Common Part II?

In part one of this article we discussed the core... Read More

Feel in Golf Putting

The definition of feel as it is used in golf... Read More

The Golf Training Exercises You Need To Improve Your Game Are Very Simple

Golf training and conditioning exercises are not as difficult as... Read More

Senior Golf Can Be Your Best Years?Here?s How

Senior golf is accepted by the golfing community as a... Read More

Gifts: Giving To The Beginner Golfer

It's golf season again! And you might be looking for... Read More

Golf Core Exercises For More Power

Golf core exercises. You hear that phrase quite often on... Read More

Online Golf Lessons Save Time And Can Be A Great Help

Online golf lessons have grown tremendously in popularity, for the... Read More

Golf Exercise And Stretch Program For Total Golf Performance

Golf exercise and stretch. This is a combination I use... Read More

Reluctant to Try Golf Instruction?

Maybe you or a friend had a negative experience with... Read More

Why Golf Fitness Stretch Training Is Important

Golf fitness stretch training is such an important part of... Read More

Benefits of A Golf Fitness Stretch Trainer

Hardly any professional worth his name today will dare approach... Read More

How To Play Better Golf... It?s Not What You Think

Playing better golf is the lifelong pursuit of every golfer... Read More

Golf Vacation Schools ? Choose the Perfect Golf School Vacation for Your Game

Golf Schools, like golfers, come in all shapes and sizes.... Read More

Golf Swing Tips Will Not Work By Themselves

Golf swing tips are rampant! Golfers can't get enough of... Read More

Perform Better Golf With These Fitness Tips

Everyone wants to be able to perform better golf, and... Read More

The Key Rule In Getting Your Golf Swing Plane Right

Getting the golf swing plane right and virtually perfecting this... Read More

Improve Your Putting By Developing Rock Solid Confidence On The Green

All of us have missed a short putt before. It... Read More

Facts and Fallacies of Strength Training for Golf

Various aspects of golf training have expanded rapidly, but one... Read More

How The Risk Of Golfer Elbow Injury Can Be Reduced

A golfer elbow injury has got to be one of... Read More

How to Eliminate Your Golf Slice Quickly and Easily

Here's a really good tip that may help you to... Read More

Golfers ? Here?s a Short Drive That Will Not Disappoint

Are you planning a golf vacation to Myrtle Beach, Hilton... Read More

Understanding The Rotary Nature of The Golf Swing

The golf swing is really a rotary movement in nature.... Read More

3 Simple Golf Tips To Quickly Improve Your Distance

Every golfer wants to know the secret golf tip to... Read More

Have You Played Chicago Golf Courses?

When most people think of Chicago, they usually think of... Read More

Charity Golf Tournaments

If you are involved with a non-profit organization, chances are... Read More

Annika Sorenstam- The Legendary Female Golfer

Even those not normally interested in golf, usually recognize the... Read More

Golf on Historic Rice Plantations of South Carolina; a Special Treat! Plan Your Next Golf Vacation!

Nothing could be finer...Just a few short miles south of... Read More