The overlap between golf and ski training shows that athletic fitness knows no season.
By Dee Tidwell
IS WINTER HERE ALREADY? With the holiday season in full swing, it’s time to transition from golf fitness to ski fitness.
Being lucky enough to work with some of the best PGA TOUR players as well as a few of the best X-Games ski and snowboard athletes has allowed me to fill my toolbox.
First let’s start with how golf and skiing are similar and where your golf fitness can directly help you prepare for the ski season. Consider the list of five:
- Both require a stable base and reliable posture.
- You need strong hips and legs to be good at golf and skiing.
- You need upper and lower body separation.
- Both entail a great deal of balance and hand-eye coordination.
- Both sports demand you transfer weight from side to side.
Guess what? Most golfers fail at most, if not all, of those physical traits during the TPI golf fitness test I perform on all players. What does that mean?
1) Above all, if you fail four of the five traits, you open yourself up for injury. If your posture or hips and legs are weak, that can lead to back and knee injuries common to both sports.
2) You will live a “limited movement freedom” life. You become one of those inflexible guys you see on the range or ski run that look stiff as a board. If you compare those guys to guys with good flexibility and movement capabilities, then you see an obvious fluidity in how the latter move not only when they play golf or ski, but through life in general. It’s like comparing a high handicapper to a PGA Tour player or an amateur skier to an elite racer. Therefore, you should think of yourself as an athlete first and as a golfer or skier second. Athletes will always move better than those who “just golf” for example, and they enjoy the athletic benefits of being able to do what they want when they want with no physical re- percussions!
3) I’ve found the list of five really does create the athleticism to move forward in life that contributes to a better lifestyle as you age. By following a program that inherently utilizes those movement concepts, you promote athletic longevity. I don’t know about you, but I want to play as hard as I can in as many sports as I can for as long as I can!
Understanding some of these concepts, let’s get into a few exercises you can use not only to help your golf game, but also to ready you for the slopes!
PLEASE FOLLOW THESE RULES:
- Start easy, with 1-2 sets and the least number of reps recommended.
- If you feel pain, stop, and call your medical professional.
- Prioritize form above weight or even reps. Take pride in how good your form is!
- You can start by trying each exercise and doing them independently OR you can do what’s called a “superset” where you do all five exercises back-to-back, then rest for 90 seconds. Repeat 1-3 times.
- Do all of these with an emphasis of reaching the crown of your head to the ceiling to create a good posture (this is also how you create good posture throughout the day).
CABLE PUSH WITH SQUARE STANCE AND STABLE LOWER BODY
Set up a band or cable machine at about shoulder height and turn so you are facing away from the band/cable.
• Get into a square stance with the handle sitting in the start position which is right at the middle of your chest.
• Keeping your head and pelvis still, reach your opposite arm forward and without your lower body moving, press the handle forward toward the midline like you are trying to touch two handles together by only turning your chest and reaching your arm.
SIDE LUNGE WITH SLIDER REACH OUT
5-12 reps each leg
Take a furniture mover, paper plate—or even just use a sock on a wood floor—and stand on it.
- With good posture of the spine and head, push your right foot laterally and squat simultaneous- ly (please don’t go too far until you understand how this feels; otherwise you may pull a groin!). Keep 90 percent of your weight on your squat leg side. Be sure your bending kneecap is tracking over your second toe and not falling inward—and keep that heel down. It is ok to let the knee go over the toes if the heel does not come up.
- Stand back up using your squat leg glute and repeat.
STEP LUNGE WITH TORSO ROTATION
5-15 reps each leg
With good spinal posture, hold a golf club to your chest. (For more of a challenge, try using a weight or medicine ball.)
• Step forward into a lunge where each knee ends up close to a 90-degree angle at the bottom. But only go as low as is comfortable, especially if you aren’t used to doing lunges regularly!
• Only allow your front knee to travel forward over your toes, if the heel stays down. Try to keep your legs and feet at hips width as you step into the lunge. You can make it harder by narrowing your stance.
• At the bottom of your lunge, turn your torso toward the front leg while keeping your head and pelvis still. Return to standing posture and repeat on the opposite side.
PRONE BALL EXTENSIONS WITH SIDE BEND REACHES
Grab a well-inflated exercise ball and kneel where your feet are flat against a wall.
• Pull the ball into your hips then lay on top of it, hugging the ball.
• From there, straighten your body and prioritize your hamstrings, glutes and all back muscles to hold you there.
• Keep your chin tucked or neutral, then arch up to a straight body position
• Make a “circle” pattern with your arms focusing on moving your shoulder blades and your arms together.
• After you complete the circle, relax to lay back over the ball and repeat.
SLIDER MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS AND CROSS UNDERS
Up to 20 reps total
Put your furniture movers or paper plates on the floor and put your toes in the middle of them. Get into a
solid plank position on your hands and toes (you can also do this with your forearms on a bench if it’s too hard on your wrists or you are too weak to do on the floor) with those abs working hard!
• With your spine mostly straight, hold that position and do a mountain climber with both legs.
• Kick one leg to the opposite side, bring it back and do the same on the other, doing those two moves back-to-back are considered one rep. And don’t forget to breathe— this exercise can be very cardio intensive!
A Certified Level Three (TPI) Titleist Performance Institute instructor, Dee Tidwell owns Colorado Golf Fitness
professional and amateur golfers for more than 20 years. He is also Colorado’s only ELDOA trainer and Soma Golf trainer. coloradogolffitnessclub.com; 303-883-0435
This article was also featured in the Winter 2021 Issue of Colorado AvidGolfer.