There are many sports that you could participate in as a young person that might complement, or even help you improve, your golf game. Consider for a moment that most sports and activities fall into one or both of these two categories:
- Those that are bilateral, which means that you use both left and right sides equally.
- Those that are good for hand, eye and foot coordination.
Golf is a one-sided sport, which means that you either swing right handed or left-handed. Because of this, you will always temporarily throw your body out of alignment. From day to day, depending on how misaligned your body is, the impact on striking the ball properly can be greatly affected. The margin of error for perfectly striking the ball is less than 1/32 of an inch. That’s not much room for error. So if your body is misaligned just 1/32 of an inch, it will increase the probability that you will miss-hit the ball, possibly catching it more on the toe, heel or high on the clubface. It is kind of like hitting clubs that, from day to day, are bent in different directions.
This misalignment is also a key factor as to why so many golfers suffer from wrist, elbow, shoulder, neck, hip, knee, ankle and lower back pain. Did I leave any joints out?
So what other sports might benefit you and keep you better aligned? Well, before we delve into any new sports, let’s briefly look at two general areas of exercise that can help to get you on track before you pursue them. Used in combination with certain sports, this might give you a well-rounded approach to your golf game and to your body’s health.
- Flexibility exercises can help you realign your body, making sure that you are equally flexible on both the left and right sides, as well as the upper and lower body. By flexibility, I am talking about the many different types of stretching exercises, including static, passive, dynamic and isometric, to name a few.
- Progressive resistance training – using body weight, dumbbells, barbells and cables – will strengthen the left and right sides of your body equally. The greatest golfers in the world today are not only flexible, but they are extremely powerful because of progressive resistance training.
Learn how to make all your muscles strong and balanced. Many people think that using weights will make you too big to swing a club properly. Nothing could be further from the truth, if the weight training is done correctly. After including these two types of exercises in your workout routine, it’s time to take a quick look at some of the sports that add balance, create flexibility and the kind of power that will improve your golf game.
- SWIMMING– This is a great sport because it strengthens your arms, legs and torso without putting unnecessary stress on your joints.
Swimming also emphasizes certain stretching qualities, especially in the shoulders, giving you a fuller rotation. And this leads to a more power packed swing.
- JOGGING/SPRINTING– The advantage here is that running in almost any form builds strength in your legs and also leads to better stamina, which is especially important as you grind through the final holes in your round.
- MARTIAL ARTS– This is a sport, if practiced with care, that can benefit you in many ways – by quickening your reflexes, improving your balance and sharpening your critical thinking. Martial arts does not necessarily require brute strength or hard contact; it is more about positioning and anticipating your opponent’s next move.
- DANCING– While not technically a sport, dancing builds leg strength, refines your tempo and emphasizes controlled rhythm. It can also be one of the most aerobically beneficial activities, ideal for building endurance.
EYE, HAND, FOOT COORDINATION
- TENNIS– A running sport by nature, tennis also places strong emphasis on balance, proper feet placement, trunk rotation and swing follow-through. The speed of the game makes it imperative to get set quickly, so that positioning yourself in your golf stance seems much easier by comparison.
- BASEBALL– Unlike golf, here you are attempting to hit a moving target, which places a high premium on good hand/eye coordination. Though some people mistakenly think that your baseball swing can mess up your golf swing, the opposite is true because your setup and rotational mechanics are very similar with both.
- SOCCER– What’s that, you say? But, yes, soccer can help your golf game. Watch how a good soccer player’s weight is all forward when he or she is striking the ball and the leg is hitting down on the ball, much as you would hit a loft shot. In fact, you can even mix the two sports with a fun drill. Place a soccer ball right next to your back foot and swing your club, being careful not to move the soccer ball with your foot as you swing.
- BASKETBALL– Here is another sport that is not only fun to play, but a nice companion sport for golf. Basketball helps you to build leg strength, stamina and a keen eye for accuracy. At the same time, it enables you to tune both sides of your body equally, which helps greatly with better body alignment.
As you can see, playing several different sports as a junior gives you more versatility and enables you to develop all of the key muscle groups. So by all means, between your school homework and chores, practice your golf game. But don’t be afraid to mix it up a little bit with another sport. Have fun and enjoy your free time!