With the heat of the junior golf tournament season upon us, I wanted to share with you what we are working on with our junior golfers in the hopes that you may be able to implement similar strategies to stay powerful and healthy through this very dense part of the season.
We get this question all the time from juniors and parents, “What should I be doing during the season?” The answer is almost always “It depends .”
To simplify it, let’s take two general types of junior golfers that we have.
1. The junior who did not participate in a solid off-season training program.
In this case, we are obviously going to stay away from introducing anything with a high level of technical requirements, such as Olympics. Instead, we stick to the basics and the areas where we will get the most return for our time and effort.
We always start with screening the junior (there is a great free at home screen online available here if you don’t have access to a skilled professional near you) and then addressing any deficiencies in mobility and/or motor control. From there, we then look at creating a balanced athlete with strength and power. For their power portion of their program, you will want to incorporate different medicine ball drills for rotary power.
We will alternate days throughout the week, sometimes focusing on strength-speed and other days working on speed-strength. What this means in simple terms is that on strength-speed days we will use heavier medicine balls (generally over 10 lbs) with rep schemes of less than 10. On speed-strength days we will use lighter medicine balls (generally under 10 lbs) with a higher rep scheme between 12 – 20.
The value of training of training both sides of the strength-speed spectrum is that we are able to vary training intensities and systems stressors. We are also able to educate the junior on what proper form and sequencing in two different scenarios. The heavier medicine balls mean the junior has to produce higher power output and learn how to control their body in this setting.
This lighter medicine ball means the junior has to control their body at higher velocities with less load which is another important element of training. Depending on the junior and their earlier athletic development, some juniors will benefit from more focus in one area than the other. This can always be assessed by your local golf performance expert.
Regardless of the focus of their rotary work for the day, we are always doing at least 2-3x the number of rotation repetitions to their non-dominant side. This is an effort to maintain some resemblance of balance and help with injury prevention as they only rotate to one side in such a repetitive and imbalanced fashion.
On other days, for this population, we will also use limited numbers of single and double leg plyometrics as well as change of direction drills and resisted sprinting work in all planes of motion. Because the junior is in season, these training days need to be used sparingly and intelligently around competition so as to make sure the athlete is not exhausted come competition.
When used intelligently, these days are so valuable in making sure athletic development progress is continued and that juniors are keeping the motor patterns not necessarily used during the specific movements of the golf swing primed. This will help to minimize the preparatory work at the beginning of the off-season, helping to increase the progress we can make during those months.
2. The junior who did participate in a solid off-season program
This junior would honestly do all of the above but perhaps at a slightly higher load as they will have longer to have built up a base. They will also be primed with more resilience because they worked to build a solid foundation during the off-season. The big difference for the program for this junior will be the inclusion of Olympic Lifting.
Olympic lifting is a great way to work on kinematic sequencing, pre-activity routine, post lift (shot) routine, functional core strength and overall power training. Because of the complexity of the snatch and clean (the two that we use mostly with our golfers) we do not include these with juniors who have no background on them prior to the in-season training.
We use the off-season to work on technical acquisition so that in season we can use them a "bang for the buck" exercise. What I mean by this is that in doing a clean or snatch from the ground, the athlete is essentially getting a touch of hip and knee pattern strengthening along
with serious pull work. You hit a lot of movement areas with these exercises which are important in season where we are looking to get the system response desired with as little total volume as possible.
So if you are a junior golfer, coach juniors or are a parent, my answer to you would be to make sure they are first and foremost screened by a local professional to identify any red flags that may be present before starting a training program. After this is complete, an intelligent and comprehensive in-season golf performance program needs to include power training, rotary training to their off side as well as mobility, core strength and overall strength work.
The volumes should not be such that they are draining the junior’s energy and they are unable to perform in tournaments. The value of a golf performance program is that when implemented appropriately it should give them more energy, resilience and improved performance throughout the duration of the season.
Are you doing what you need to assure you are performing at your best in the height of the season and less likely to be injured?