How to Assess for Golf Performance
When it comes to physical preparation, time in the gym must neither take away from sport-specific practice, nor should it cause players to need to decrease their practice time because they are fatigued or cannot perform at their best.. Which is why proper an effective assessment for golf performance is critical. Ultimately, efficiency is super important to maximize both on- and off-course improvements due to the high practice time demands of elite golf.
Therefore, analyzing and assessing the physical performance metrics of a golfer are just as important as in any other sport. The downside is that unlike sports with more established histories of training, the fitness world is still incredibly new to the golf community, let alone true performance training.
Our goal at Par4Success is to develop the most comprehensive and predictive model of performance assessments and training programs for golfers and, to date, we have one of the most comprehensive and longitudinal databases of athletes across the age range of golf.
Jumping, for golf?
In our assessment for golf performance, we look at counter movement jump and many golfers, especially our older golfers, laugh at this concept – “I play golf specifically so I don’t have to jump!” While initially we believed it was simply a good substitute for general lower body strength and power, new understandings of the physics of the golf swing have proven why this test is so valuable.
Interesting Database Findings
Like I mentioned previously, we test all our athletes on a vertical jump test. Validity of the jump mat aside, we saw a slight trend that increasing vertical jump height in our countermovement test related to changes in club speed. Sadly, it was not consistent enough to latch onto as an integral and key part of our programming.
While sifting through the numbers one day, a simple idea came to mind – what if, like in many other sports, a value was calculated taking into account an athlete’s bodyweight and their jump height? Golf is also a fairly unique sport in that many different body types are asked to do the exact same thing, and many different body types can be successful in this sport with that same task. Compare this to a sport like football, where one body type is not remotely ideal across the position spectrum, and while players can be grouped, you’ll never ask an offensive lineman to run a downfield comeback route. In contrast, every golfer must hit their shots off the same tee box during a competition.
Vertical Peak Power Assessment for Golf Performance
Sure enough, simply calculating an athlete’s peak power, which factored an athlete’s weight with their jump height, produced our single greatest relationship between changes in that athlete’s club speed. Furthermore, it was our strongest differentiator between athletes with similar characteristics but different swing speeds. For example, given two high school female athletes with similar scores on golf-specific mobility tests (which have been well established by Titleist Performance Institute and others), and similar playing levels, the athlete with the higher “jump score” was almost guaranteed to swing faster. Further, and where a big shift in our training focus occurred, was that this jump score was the biggest predictor of increases in club speed for each individual golfer. Based on statistical analyses, an improvement of 1,100 Watts of peak power calculated by the jump score guaranteed at minimum a 1 mph improvement in swing speed, regardless of age, technique and skill level.