Updated: Jun 7, 2020
What is something that the majority of golfers neglect that could immediately increase their distance, improve performance and decrease risk of injury in as little as 5 minutes? The answer: a dynamic warm up prior to the round. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of a proper warm up, what your warm up should look like and other tips on how to prepare before your round. At the end of reading this article you should no longer use the excuse "it took me a few holes to warm up".Inlcuded at the end of this post is a video for a free dynamic warmup to help you move better, feel better and perform better before your next round or practice session.
Do I really need to warm up?
The golf swing is a very fast and explosive movement which produces significant force and stresses on the body. The explosive nature of the golf swing is similar to movements in other sports such as sprinting, throwing a pitch, hitting a baseball or serving in tennis. If you watch an athlete in any of these other sports you will notice that they perform some type of warmup to prepare their body for the event. However, this is often neglected entirely by many amateur golfers. A study done by Fradkin et. al showed that around 70% of amateur golfers seldom warm up (if you want to get an easy leg up on the other guys in your league or foursome-Warm Up!) . To compound matters, many golfers spend most of their day at sedentary jobs. If you arrive at the course, hit a few putts and head straight to the first tee, you are leaving a lot on the table in regards to your performance and also putting your body at increased risk of injury.
This also applies to competitive golfers as well. High school and college athletes sit in class a significant portion of the day and also can have a long bus ride to get to their match. After the bus ride or sitting in class all day you need to prepare your body to compete and the warm up should be part of that routine.
What is an appropriate warm up for golf?
Here are some general guidelines for designing your pre round warm up:
1. It should be dynamic, not static. The golf swing is dynamic and your warm up needs to adequately prepare your for the speeds and stresses of the golf swing. Static motions such as pictured on the left are not going to cut it and can actually decrease your ability to produce power. Examples of dynamic movements include squats, lunges (in multiple planes), leg swings, torso rotations , etc. These can be seen in the video at the end of the post.
2. The warm up should involve all planes of motion: the golf swing involves movement in all three planes of motion and your body needs to be prepared for this. Your body needs to have both the mobility in these planes of motion and ability to stabilize/control motion in those planes of movement.
3. It should increase your body temperature: the warm up should increase your internal body temperature and get the muscles, connective tissues and tendons warmed up. It is important to note that the purpose is the warm up the body, not to fatigue it, so the resistance and intensity should reflect this. You should not be dripping sweat by the end of the warm up.
4. Your warm up should involve the movement patterns you are going to be using in the golf swing. Every sport is going to have unique demands and requirements. So the warm up that is beneficial for golf will have different requirements than a warm up for baseball, tennis, hockey, basketball.
5. It should activate the nervous system: the nervous system is what communicates with and controls your muscles to produce the powerful and coordinated movements required for a golf swing. We need to activate the nervous system to maximize your performance.
6. It should involve both sides of the body: having balance between your dominant and non dominant side is important for injury prevention as well as performance. For a right handed golfer your non dominant side is important for decelerating and controling the speeds that you produce during the swing. We not only need to prepare to produced speed, but also to control it (you can only accelerate, what you can safely decelerate). Working both sides of the body during the warm up will help with this.
The video at the end will highlight some of these concepts. In no way is the only way to perform a warm up. Every swing and every body is unique and the warm up should reflect this. There are several appropriate exercises and the warm up can be modified based on your physical capabilities and needs. Some athletes may need to focus more attention on certain areas of their body and the warm up can be customized to reflect this. However, using the principles above should help you make those adjustments (You can also feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you have about designing your pre round warm up).
Here are a few common questions that I get about warming up:
Does swinging a weighted club or multiple clubs help?
After you have performed the warm up it is now time to pick up a club and start making some swings. Many amateur golfers warm up on the first tee by using two irons together, and making several swings. There are much more productive ways to better prepare your body for the swing. In actual fact, studies have shown that swinging with weighted clubs can reduce your initial club head speed. When you swing these clubs together you are swinging slower and are programming your nervous system for this so your initial swing speed ends up being slower, not faster. Using a lighter club will actually help train your nervous system to move at faster speeds which will you get the result you are looking for.
To see a good example of how to properly integrate weighted clubs into your pre round routine check out the routine below offered by SuperSpeed Golf: Notice how it involves swings on both sides of the body.
What about hitting balls on the range?
Yes, hitting balls on the driving range can absolutely be a component of your pre round warm up as well. In an ideal scenario your pre round routine would include a dynamic warmup and hitting balls, but this is not always realistic. If you are on a time crunch and only have 10 minutes before your tee time, your time would likely be better spent taking your body through a dynamic warm up. Research by Langdown and Wells has even shown an improvement in club head speed and driving distance by performing a dynamic or resisted warmup in comparison to hitting 20 balls on the range.
Enjoy this FREE Dynamic Warm Up For Golf:
Enjoy and Have A Great Round!
1. Fradkin, A. J., Finch, C. F., & Sherman, C. A. (2003). Warm-up attitudes and behaviours of amateur golfers. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 6(2), 210-215.
2. Langdown, Ben & Wells, Jack & Graham, Sean & W Bridge, Matt. (2018).Acute effects of different warm-up protocols on highly skilled golfers’ drive performance. Journal of Sports Sciences. 10.1080/02640414.2018.1522699.