When’s the last time you practiced standing on one foot and holding your balance? Probably never. Yet it’s a key ingredient in our daily lives and that includes playing golf.
Balance is one of those things that we pretty much take for granted. Not many of us think about it, nor practice it, even though it can keep us from seriously injuring ourselves and help us perform daily tasks better. How many times have you heard of someone – who was in pretty good shape – fall and break something, and was never really the same again? For this reason alone, balance is gaining more press these days, and should be practiced on a regular basis.
Better balance can also impact your performance on the golf course. Almost every aspect of the game is dependent on the golfer’s ability to maintain good balance while in various positions, and often while explosively swinging a golf club.
Whether it’s the longer yardage shots, off the tee and in the fairway, or those finesse ones from 100 yards in or around the green, body control is a must. Altering the stance to accommodate for the type of shot will help the golfer swing the club smoothly and efficiently, resulting in the desired outcome.
For many this is a tough enough task on level ground, but often times these array of golf shots have to be accomplished from uneven lies such as uphill and downhill, or when the ball’s above or below your feet. This demands even a greater need for swing stability as both ground and gravitational forces impact an additional set of circumstances to the golfer, which he now needs to compensate for.
Throw in a little wind, one foot in the bunker, and/or a little fatigue on the back nine and that changes the affect on the body. That’s the beauty or frustration about golf, you really never have the same shot twice. There’s always something different requiring you to alter something to make the shot, and in every situation, stabilization or balance plays a part.
Age may have something to do with lack of balance, but I’ve seen a lot of young players have trouble with the simplest of balance assessments. Yes, there are physiological changes that occur as we age that will impact balance, but for the most part, we can prevent that from occurring.
Lower body strength, for example, plays a key role in balance. Improving strength and coordination in all three planes of movement, side-to-side, front-to-back, and rotationally, can enhance balance. A good start is with the quadriceps (front thigh), glutes (buttocks), calves, and abductors and adductors (inner and outer thigh). These will also help you better control the lower body during the golf swing.
Practicing balance is also something that you can do to improve balance. Get into your golf stance (as if you were standing at address over the ball, but with your hands folded across your chest instead of out in front of you) and then shift the weight over to one foot while you lift the other foot off the ground. Work up to a solid 10 seconds on each foot without losing your balance. It’ll take time, be patient and it will get better. If you have extreme difficulty with this, you may want to check with your physician, as there are other factors that can influence balance.
Once this is accomplished, to make the exercise more golf specific, as golf is not a static sport, balance on one foot and then slowly rotate your shoulders back and forth as if swinging a golf club. Practice that till you can do 5 to 10 rotations to each side, and with each leg, without losing your balance.
Don’t take balance for granted. Take steps to improve your balance and you’ll improve not only the quality of life, but the quality of your golf game as well.