Over the years, I have been able to train every level of athlete across many sports. I have been able to train and study under some incredibly knowledgeable people in both the golf and fitness industry. In 2011, I was given an opportunity to open my own facility started PEAK Golf Fitness. Since that time, my staff and I have trained and consulted for everyone from the weekend warrior to players on every level of Professional golf.
Everyone Wants to Hit Hard and Farther
Throughout the years and with the various ability levels, the one common request from almost every athlete is “I want to get faster/hit it farther.” My answer to this statement is “We can do that, but don’t forget if you want to move faster, we also have to improve the brakes.”
Everyone wants to be a [Insert your favorite sports car], that car looks great and can go 0-60 in no time at all, but without great brakes it will only look great until it runs headfirst into a wall because you could not stop.
Don’t Take My Word for it, Take Tim Burke’s
If you don’t believe me, then maybe hearing what the man who has the fastest recorded ball speed on trackman says about his training. I had the great opportunity to listen to, talk to, and watch Tim Burke train with a good friend of mine Trevor Anderson down in Orlando. What really stuck out to me is when asked about the training work they do together most of his increases in speed have come through stability and deceleration training which Tim said makes up around 70-80% of his training programs. He has always had a great gas pedal by evidence of his fastball (in the 90’s), but in golf he had to be able to slow the parts down in order to effectively transfer all that explosiveness to the golf ball. The result of training the brakes, club head speed of 154 MPH and ball speed on trackman of 227 MPH. The BRAKES are important!
How does This Relate to Training?
Well, let us look at vertical jump for example. In the golf swing, we know a player’s vertical jump has a correlation to the amount of club head speed they can produce. When tied into K-Vest and force plates, we see these players can produce higher forces by percentage of body weight as well as faster pelvic rotational velocities.
So, we can just make these players jump higher to increase their club head speed, right? How do we go about increasing a player’s vertical jump? We can do box jumps, Olympic lifts, and several other drills that encourage us to move explosively. These drills will definitely increase our “gas pedal”. What about the player’s ability to slow down that new gas pedal?
Training The Slow Down Avoids Injuries
We see many injuries occur because the player is not able to slow down this new greater force. The other players just do not get the speed gains that they should see with the increase of power. The analogy we, at PEAK, often use is you can only jump as high as you can safely land. This is a perfect example to use with box jumps.
How many times have you seen the YouTube videos of guys jumping up on boxes that are as tall as they are? So why isn’t their vertical 50-60 inches? Why can the athletes in the gym jump up onto boxes much higher than their measured vertical jump? The answer is watching the player jump down off those same boxes. The landing should be balanced and have a soft feeling, but most of the time it is unbalanced and very hard on the body. This is because the quality of the brakes does not match the quality of the gas pedal.
Where to Start
There are many ways to train the brakes. At our facility we start our deceleration training by working on and maintaining pelvic and thoracic stability. We do a lot of this work through training posture and anti-rotation using drills in K-Vest. The hardest part of this type of training is that it is a new and different how they normally train. For the athletes who have not done this type of training and/or are used to working with heavy weights they do not “feel” like they are getting a “good” workout.
My response to these players is, if you give it your all for a little while you will be amazed how much better you feel. Many players have much less of their usual soreness/pain after playing and practicing. The crazy part of all of this, we begin to see increases of speed and distance before we get into any of our even lowest intensity acceleration protocols.
In part 2 of this article we will get into how we train with and without K-Vest.