By Pam Owens, Special to Lone Star Golf
If you’ve played
golf long enough, you’ve probably tried just about everything in an effort to
gain clubhead speed. You’ve purchased better balls, new clubs, changed your
stance or grip and maybe even thrown a medicine ball or two.
Have you tried a
mental approach to speed gains? Yes, believe it or not, speed is mental because
speed is controlled by the brain! Further, would you believe me when I tell you
that your body can move faster than you currently move? It’s true. You have a
faster gear that you are not using. The trick is convincing your brain you can
indeed go faster.
An overriding goal
of our brain is to protect the body. Just as a mechanical engine’s speed is
governed for safety reasons, our nervous system acts as our speed governor and
restricts our speed for our own safety. Your cruising speed, the speed you use,
is slower than your maximum speed; therefore, you cruise at a certain speed in
your downswing that is deemed safe by your brain.
In the downswing,
if the brain perceives you might fall, get injured or lose control it will
restrict movement and/or speed. Let’s look at three common examples to make the
point clearer and to see if you recognize how your speed might be governed:
Any of these
scenarios can be common reasons why we don’t naturally increase our cruising
speed. With safe speed training we might be able to access our maximum
speed or at least move faster than our current speed.
I am recommending
two controlled drills to safely push past the protective nature of our brain and
tap into the higher speed you already possess. These two speed drills are based
on these three pillars:
In this session, Exercise
1, the “Kneeling Swoosh Test,” helps you monitor speed on your dominant side
versus non-dominant side. Exercise 2, “One-Arm Speed Swings,” works to develop
speed in both sides of the body in both directions and determine which side
might be limiting your overall speed.
Grab a shaft with
a grip (a club with no clubhead) and follow instructions in the video above.
Remember the pillars of speed as you do these drills. You will move as fast as
you can, focusing only on speed and train both sides of the body in both
directions. Listen to the noise the shaft makes. Focus on the swoosh sound and
try to make that sound louder on each repetition.
Grab a shaft with a grip and get in a wide kneeling position.
Reset before each swing and swing as fast as you can five times using your
normal grip on your dominant side as demonstrated in the video. Then switch your
grip and swing five times on the non-dominant side. Notice any difference in
sound between the dominant side versus the non-dominant side. Also, notice any
differences in movement restrictions between the two sides. Your goal over the following weeks and months is to become more even and for the swoosh sound to get louder
on both sides.
Pro Tips: Adjust the width
of your knees to whatever works best for you. You might need a towel or pad under
the knees for comfort. Do not do this drill if you have any pain.
Using the same shaft, get in golf posture and swing five
times in each direction with each arm. You’ll do a total of 20 swings while
listening for the swoosh sound. Notice which arm and which direction has the
weakest sound. That side in that direction is your weakest and plays a part in
restricting your overall speed.
Pro Tips: Don’t think about
technique during these swings. There is no ball and there is no point of
impact, so by focusing on the sound alone you can accelerate beyond the ball
position and propel your energy through the whole movement. Do not do this
drill if you have any pain.
These two drills
will build your speed and push the speed governor to a new level. Many golf
instructors have even confirmed that speed training can clean up stubborn
technique issues by creating more efficient movement. Sometimes we get
so technical that we don’t even allow
speed. By putting technique aside for these drills and by focusing on the sound
only, we tap into a more natural, efficient movement through the ball.
Also, we often
find mobility restrictions tied to the slower movement in the one-arm speed
swings drill. If you notice restricted movement or if after doing this drill
for a few weeks you are unable to make speed progress, then you should contact a
TPI golf fitness specialist for an assessment and a mobility program. I can
work with you in person and online if you do not already work with a TPI
Interesting note: I started using this drill when a client accidently
broke one of my Superspeed clubs. I decided to use the shaft for safe
exploration of speed. This one-arm speed drill has become one of the most
successful drills in my speed clinics.
Pam Owens is the Director of Fitness for Royal Oaks
Country Club in Houston and the owner of Pam Owens Fitness. A two-time Golf
Digest Top 50 Fitness Professional, Pam helps golfers all over the world get
lean, bendy and powerful with online or in person coaching. For more
golf-specific resources, click here.