Golf Fitness Essential: How To Improve Shoulder Strength For Your Golf Swing
If you struggle with inconsistent ball striking, the role your shoulders play in your golf swing is worth considering. Unless you've incorporated golf-specific fitness exercises to improve shoulder strength and function in your swing, they're likely not contributing to consistency as much as they could. Let's get into it.
The Flaw: Lack of Shoulder Strength
Most golfers are familiar with the term "chicken wing." It's a common flaw in the golf swing that can have a significant impact on a golfer's performance - and a perfect example of improper shoulder strength and mobility in the golf swing. If the shoulder is not doing its part properly, it can lead to a variety of problems, including reduced power, poor control, and inconsistent ball striking.
When the elbow works away from the body during the takeaway, it disrupts the natural synchronization of the swing. Instead of the arms and body moving in harmony, the "chicken wing" causes the elbow to lift and separate from the torso, leading to an improper swing path. That means relying on pinpoint timing and coordination to get the club head squared up at impact.
Most golfers don't have the kind of hand-eye coordination required to compensate for a lack of proper shoulder function. The more likely outcome is an open or closed face (at random) causing slices or hooks. And, ball strikes off the toe of the club which results in a loss of distance and accuracy.
The Fix: Keep It Tight To Get It Right
To correct a "chicken wing" and create proper flexibility and control in the shoulders, golfers need to incorporate specific exercises into a well-rounded golf fitness training program that promotes shoulder mobility and strength to help improve the golf swing.
Here's one from Coach Joey D you can put to work this week at home or gym to start getting a real and consistent part of your swing. It's typically done using a resistance band with a handle, or a functional trainer set to fairly light weight.
Exercise Spotlight: External Shoulder Rotations
Coach Joey D's exercise for external shoulder rotation is your first step toward reclaiming control of your swing. Here's how to integrate this powerful move into your routine:
- Set Up: Anchor a resistance band or set functional trainer for work at approximately hip-height. Grasp with your right hand.
- Position: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent with the anchor point to your left.
- Hold right elbow tight to your right side and step laterally to your right to add resistance, drawing the right hand across your abdomen.
- Keeping the right elbow tight, slowly and smoothly rotate your right hand away from the anchor point as far as you can go.
- Slowly return to the starting position to complete one rep.
- Repetitions: Aim for 10 reps on each side for two to three sets.
Movement patterns like External Shoulder Rotations encourage the correct movement of the arm, keeping it close to the body during the swing are particularly effective. By getting that "feel to become real," you'll start overcoming the physical limitations that contribute to inconsistencies like the chicken wing, and working towards a more efficient and powerful swing.
For more exercise and insight from Coach Joey D, check out the Coaches Corner tab in the Hit It Great Golf Fitness App.