Now that winter is behind us, your longing gaze is turning to those fairways on your base. But before you put a club in your hands, you can do a few things to ensure you enjoy the next five to six months on the links playing better golf and staying injury free by working on stability and rotational power and keeping the all-important rotator cuff muscles strong.
My library has more than 15 exercises for these small but critical muscles. Here, we’ll address external rotation (drawing the club head back) and internal rotation (bringing the club head through the ball and releasing to the finish).
For these exercises, use a medium resistance band (usually green) that’s 2 to 21/2 feet long. Tie it off to a point midway between your waist and chest. Put a towel between the rib cage and the upper arm you’re working on.
External rotation: Start with your right arm bent at 90 degrees, band held in your right hand and lower arm across your abs. The band will stretch across your abs from right to left, with slight tension.
Keeping the right elbow tight against your ribs and maintaining your arm’s ‘L’ shape, rotate your right forearm out to the right until it lines up with the side of your rib cage.
Slowly bring the arm back to the start position. Do 10 repetitions, then repeat for the other arm.
Internal rotation: Start where the external rotation movement ends, with your right arm lined up with the side of your rib cage, except this time the band stretches away from your torso rather than across.
Keeping your elbow tight and maintaining the L shape, rotate the right forearm until it lays across your abs.
Slowly bring the arm back to the start position. Do 10 reps, then repeat for the other arm.
This exercise involves battle ropes; don’t be afraid.
Stretch the battle ropes out to full length and kneel in front of the rope handles. It’s critical that you kneel tall and upright, have your shoulder blades back and glutes set, and that you maintain that posture throughout the exercise. Move both ropes at once, up and down in a quick motion. Do 15 seconds of work for three sets, with 30 seconds of rest between sets.
For the progression, go into a lunge — while not letting your back knee touch the ground — and whip the rope in an alternating hand style. A further progression is to jump and switch legs during the 15 seconds of work.
Here it’s critical to practice both deceleration and acceleration, such as in the transition of the golf swing, in which you accelerate to pull the club back, decelerate at the top, accelerate again on the forward swing, then decelerate as you finish.
Medicine ball rotation: Start with a medium-sized medicine ball — about 8 pounds — and stand with your back to a wall, about 2 feet away from it.
Using your obliques — not your shoulders — and keeping your hips stable, power around until you can touch the medicine ball to the wall, then rotate back to the middle and go to the opposite side, touching the ball to the wall. Accelerate toward the wall, and when you return to the middle position, decelerate as you get to the wall and as you get back to the middle. Do 10 reps on each side.
Jump rotation: Get in an athletic position — slight bend to the knees, arms loose and slightly in front and to the side opposite the direction of the jump. Now jump and rotate 180 degrees so that you are facing where your back was. Land with soft knees. Your arms will swing across your body to the other side. Your lower body is trying to stabilize. Bring the arms back across your body and jump rotate back to the start. Do 10 reps.