In years past, tour professionals would roll out of bed before their round and go to the range to hit a few balls before going to the first tee. Nowadays, you won’t see a tour professional who does not do an extended warm up routine before they’ve hit a ball.
Professionals have realized the importance of properly stretching out the body. It’s a great way prime yourself for the challenge ahead. It warms up your muscles, meaning you’ll be able to strike the ball better and minimize the risk of injury.
The warm-up routine has trickled down into the amateur game, where a lot of players do some form of stretching before they go out onto the course. However, this often consists of inadequate exercises, like trying to touch your toes and doing a few twists.
Instead, you should incorporate a 10 to 15-minute warm-up into your pre-round routine. This will help improve your game, give you a better experience out on the course and decrease the chance of getting injured.
What sort of stretching should you do?
One mistake that a lot of people make is just doing static stretches before they go onto the course. A static stretch is when you hold a stationary stretch for over ten seconds. Instead, try doing dynamic stretches. As the name suggests, these are moves that are not performed in the same position — they are used to actively engage your joints and muscles. They’ll help ensure that your range of motion is on point. These are typically held for five to 10 seconds.
Here are a few dynamic stretches that you should do every time you are preparing to play golf.
1. Standing hip stretch
Start by putting your hands on a golf club or chair, so that you have a bit of help keeping your balance. Have your right ankle placed on the outside of your left knee.
Inhale when you are bending the left knee and sit back as if you are going to sit down on a chair. Move your chest closer towards your shin, keeping the shoulder blades together. Keep this position for a total of three breaths. Repeat it five times on each side.
2. Pelvic tilts standing stretch
Start in your golf shot address position, having your arms crossed across your chest. Keep the pelvis tucked in under, which allows for a posterior tilt. Then, arch your back so you generate an anterior tilt. Return to your neutral spine position. Do this five times on each side.
3. Neck stretch
Bring your left ear brought towards your left shoulder. As you press your right arm towards the floor, inhale. After five seconds, exhale and relax the arm. Do this slowly for five seconds, then gradually bring your head back to a neutral position. Do this on both sides.
4. Shoulder stretch
Get a towel or a club and grasp it behind your neck, with your right hand on the grip of the club and your left hand further down the shaft where it is comfortable. Inhale and pull on the club or towel gently before exhaling and releasing. Do this five times on each side.
5. Leg swings
To get your hamstrings and legs warmed up, hold onto a stable structure — such as a handrail or wall — with your right hand. Keep your feet shoulder width apart and swing your outside leg back and forth. You don’t want your upper body moving too much in this exercise. Ease into it at first and build up your range of motion as you go. Do ten swings on each leg.
— Andrew O’Malley