Golf and Powerlifting: Some Surprising Similarities

Posted On April 16, 2024

Golf and Powerlifting: Some Surprising Similarities

To achieve a high level of performance in both golf and powerlifting excellent balance is required.

This is an underappreciated training requirement for both sports that is rarely discussed in the literature on training and conditioning.

While golf is not usually a sport where strength conditioning is seen as a key element, some commentators have noted that recreational players can benefit from building strength. As most are aware, the people holding PGA cards train regularly with weights.

Powerlifters are rarely encouraged to do balance training even though such skills are critical in maximizing the squat and deadlift.


Common elements of golf and powerlifting

Both sports are performed while standing on two feet.

This applies to the deadlift and squat in powerlifting and every single stroke in a golf game.

What is usually overlooked in discussions of physical training is the need to develop balance and body control while standing.

Elite performance in both powerlifting and golf requires that each lift or swing be done as precisely as possible with little or no variation due to lack of control.


Balance and power projection

Having played eight different sports in my lifetime and continuing to lift weights now in my 80s, I have noted that most coaches spend little time on developing or enhancing balance and body control.

This leads to inefficient or awkward lifts and sub-optimal swings in golf.

Think about a powerlifter attempting to do a max level squat. If the lifter has any flaws in their body alignment or poor coordination of power during the lift the result will be less than could be done with perfect form.

The impact of poor balance on a golf swing is even more dramatic.

Being even slightly out of alignment and unable to generate maximum speed on the swing will lead to shot sprayed all over the place.

If you dont believe me, go to a driving range and watch people who seem as well balanced as an egg standing on end.


What we seem to take for granted

Over decades of lifting weights, (and coaching others) I have always focused attention on developing and maintaining perfect form.

For example, when doing a deadlift, it is essential to set your feet properly so that maximum power can be projected into the floor to start the lift. As you move the bar to mid shin a well-balanced push into the floor must be coordinated with a properly aligned torso to generate maximum upward force.

If a lifters balance is poor, it is unlikely that they will apply the same force in the same manner on each lift.

Although there may be only a small difference from one lift to another, the lifter with poor balance will stagnate at a level well below what they could achieve. They are never able to generate maximum force. They never do the lift in the same way, so they remain at a sub-par plateau.

As a referee I have observed hundreds of lifters (maybe thousands) doing squats, bench press and deadlift. The great lifters are solidly in control at every stage of the lift. Each of their lifts was performed with not even a slight variation in technique.

This is in sharp contrast with the typical gym lifter or high handicap golfer who flops and thrashes through each rep. Each rep may be slightly different than the others.


Basic Practices

Golfers or lifters can benefit from some basic balance training. Alternate feet.

Stand on one foot: begin with 10 seconds and work up to 60 seconds

Stand on one foot with eyes closed: 10 to 30 seconds

Stand on one foot and make circles with the foot that is off the ground

While these are fairly basic drills, I suspect that some will find them surprisingly challenging.

Lift Big!


Written by Richard

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