In most sports, the majority of injuries occur because the body is too rigid or unprepared to be forced into unfamiliar positions.
Preparing for explosive movements is necessary before playing a sport that takes a toll on your body, like hockey. Similarly, it’s equally important to ensure your body is ready for a round of golf. This starts in the gym by training the right muscles with the right movements that produce the best results--and the more we dug into this, the more similarities we found between our favorite sport (golf) and another favorite (especially of Coach Brianna)...hockey.
Like a slapshot in hockey, a golf swing is considered a high-intensity movement because so much is in motion. Your upper body initiates the backswing, your core is there to stabilize everything and be a source of strength as you turn, and your lower body helps drive through the ball at impact.
The title of this blog is “how does hockey help the golf swing?” The short answer is: in lots of ways.
Let’s talk about it.
The Fundamentals of Hockey
Range of motion, flexibility, and strength (upper and lower body) are important for pretty much any sport you’re playing.
But the crossover in movement and motion between golf and hockey is undeniable. The actions of shooting a puck and swinging a club are quite similar, and many of the same muscles are required to execute both actions.
One key difference between the two: in hockey, a slapshot involves hitting the ice before making contact with the puck. A golf ball is stationary and is hit first before the club impacts the ground.
The fundamentals for each movement might sound familiar, too: a wide shoulder turn, a stable and flexible lower body, core strength to support, and that same flexibility to unload from the top and drive through the ball or puck.
The Fundamentals of Golf
Posture is everything in golf--but it’s supported by proper fundamentals, just like hockey.
Want more power? It starts with flexibility and stability; you’ll need a wider shoulder turn, the ability to load up on your strong side and power through the downswing. The more active your body is and the more prepared it is to make these “uncomfortable” moves, the more familiar they become (and the less stressful they’ll be over time).
That’s one of many concepts shared by the golf swing and a shooting motion in hockey. Power comes from the ground, and from the body’s ability to rotate and be flexible from initiation to impact.
The training you’ll do for hockey will benefit your golf game, and likely, vice versa.
How Can You Cross-Train for Both Sports?
Maybe you’re an amateur hockey player who likes to hit the course when you’re not on the ice. Or, you’re an avid golfer who just learned how to ice skate (we’re still working on that part). Whatever the case may be, you can actually improve your game at the same time!
These workouts are mainly focused on shoulder strength and stability, which is key in both hockey and golf. A golf swing and hockey shot both are explosive motions, and without strength and stability, you will have a hard time getting the most out of your swing.
It’s essential to stretch before working out, playing golf, hockey or any other sport. With limited shoulder mobility, you lack power and range of motion and put yourself at risk for injury with improper form. Also, these exercises can be done at any weight, so there's no need to jump the gun right away and use more weight than you’re ready for.
Marathon, not a sprint.
1. Golfer’s Dumbbell Raise
The first exercise is a golfer’s dumbbell raise. You’ll want a large medicine ball or inclined bench for this and lay on your stomach with your legs spread a little more than shoulder width apart for stability.
Looking down, you’re going to raise your arms above your head forming an “I” position with the dumbbells. Keep your wrists vertical and elbows straight, and hold this position for a full two seconds for some isometric action. Then, lower your arms back to your side slowly and repeat for 10 reps.
While still looking down, try bringing your arms outwards and forming more of a “Y” shape. Hold again for another two seconds, 10 reps and remember to keep those wrists vertical and elbows straight . Next, form a “T” shape with your arms and do the same thing with your thumbs down. Try and keep a tempo when performing these, but don’t neglect your holds.
If you don’t have any workout equipment or access to a gym, no problem. Instead of using dumbbells, find items in your home that are similar in weight, such as milk jugs or soup cans. Without a bench or medicine ball, you should be standing with your feet apart, knees bent, core squeezed, and back straight. After that, lean forward and voila!
2. Shoulder-Turn Warm Up
This is one of Dustin Johnson’s favorite workouts. (Johnson happens to be married to Paulina Gretzky--the daughter of a hockey player you may have heard of.)
To begin this exercise, you'll need very light dumbbells (or the household equivalent). Start by standing shoulder width apart with your knees slightly bent, keeping your upper arms tucked and wrists vertical while externally rotating the dumbbells away from your body.
Make sure you maintain your elbows touching your ribcage and focus on squeezing your scapula together as you lift the dumbbells outwards. Do 10-20 of these.
3. Standing 90-90
Another easy exercise for your shoulders is standing 90-90s. Start with light dumbbells and your feet shoulder width apart and focus on keeping your arms at a 90-degree angle in front of you, then move your arms so they’re perpendicular to the ground. Keeping your wrists locked horizontally, lower the dumbbells and repeat 10-20 times.
These three simple and easy exercises are great for improving shoulder stability, mobility, and strength. Like any workout, as it becomes easier, you can slowly start to incorporate more weight--but remember, it’s a process.
Next time you’re at the gym (or working out at home), try incorporating these movements into your routine. Along with standard stretching, these exercises are going to improve your game in both hockey and golf.
So there you have it. You CAN cross-train hockey and golf. Do so about three times per week, and before you know it you will be hitting golf balls like Dustin Johnson and slinging hockey pucks across the ice like Wayne Gretzky.