The Four Things Every Athlete Needs

In Strength and Conditioning expert Mike Boyle’s presentation at the World Golf Fitness Summit, he asserted that there are four things every athlete needs. They are:

Adequate Mobility

Above Average Strength

Anti-Rotation Strength

Rotary Power

In this blog, I’ll briefly expand on these four categories, and show you an exercise you can start using today to improve each.

Adequate Mobility – Mobility in the body is a huge subject, but I’m going to focus on thoracic mobility for the purpose of this blog. Your thoracic spine is essentially your mid-back. As David Darbyshire, Movement Coach to Adam Scott (one of the best athletes in the world) told me the other day, the thoracic spine gets restricted as you get older. According to Darbyshire, as this happens, you see people rotating more from their arms than their spine. For any athlete in a rotary sport, this is not only a recipe for injury, but also a great way to lose power. So while many people think of explosive drills when they think of gaining more power, you can also gain power by improving your mobility. The farther back you can get your golf club in your backswing, for example, the more club head speed you can create, and the farther you’ll hit the ball. This mobilization on a foam roller is one of my favorite ways to increase thoracic mobility:

Above Average Strength – I love the squat for developing strength in my golfers, but really anyone who wants a strong, powerful lower body and core should squat. Golf specifically is all about ground force production, so getting golfers to squat efficiently is key. In the golf swing, you push off the ground to generate power from the legs and hips. If I’m working with a golfer who can’t squat properly, in most cases he/she will exhibit common swing faults, such as sway and early extension. At the summit, Boyle said he likes squats for golfers in particular “because they play a unique, two-leg sport that has specific demands on the lower body. Squatting helps meet those demands." In the video below you’ll see me performing the Goblet Squat, holding the weight (you can use a dumb bell or kettlebell) in front of me. This squat variation forces the core to fire and works the thoracic erectors as well.

Anti-Rotation Strength:  If you want a stronger core, you must train yourself to resist rotation. As Boyle stressed in his presentation, we should start to think of the abdominals not only as flexors and rotators of the trunk, but also as anti-rotators and anti-lateral flexors of the trunk. So if you’re interested in a stronger, more functional core for injury prevention and/or sports performance, your program must include exercises that train you to resist rotation. The Anti-Rotation Cable Press is great place to start:

Rotary Power – Rotary power is extremely important when it comes to building a strong, functional athlete. Golfers, for example, play a rotary sport, so any golfer looking to create a more powerful swing must have rotary exercises in his/her program. I like the Upper Body Stability Ball Twist as more of a rotary mobility exercise, to teach golfers how to properly engage the muscles needed to rotate efficiently. The second video depicts a true rotary power exercise, but of course there are many less integrated power exercises clients can start with, such as kneeling medicine ball chops. 

Robbie Cannon performing the Step-In Med Ball Throw:

Remember: Train smarter, not harder. See you in the gym!