Backswing RoundUp

What tests do you perform to determine a student's physical limitations?

What tests do you perform to determine a student's physical limitations?
The golf swing is a complicated movement and can be even harder if you're not physically capable! Here are a few ways that golf professionals judge how well a golfer can swing a golf club based on their physical abilities.

The tests that I perform to determine a student’s physical limitations are designed to expose what prevents my students from getting into the proper golf swing positions.

The tests that I perform to determine a student’s physical limitations are designed to expose what prevents my students from getting into the proper golf swing positions. My main test is the “toe touch test.” I get my player to bend at the waist, from a standing position, with both legs straight, and show me how far they can go in an athletic attempt to touch their toes. This exposes tight hamstrings and is the main reason for poor address posture and early extension on the down swing. From a static perspective, when a player has tight hamstrings, it is difficult for them to address the golf ball athletically. From a dynamic perspective, tight hamstrings cause the player to lift up, on the downswing and “cast the club.” This is know as “early extension.”

The fix for tight hamstrings is to practice this simple “at home stretch,” every day!

The Toe Touch stretch: sitting on the floor, straighten both legs in front of you with your feet together and your knees locked. Elongate you’re spine and slowly lean forward, bending at the hips. With your arms outstretched, reach for your toes. Hold this position for thirty seconds. Relax and repeat this two more times; and do this exercise daily. In only a few days, every athletic golfer should be able to touch their toes!

Golfers who are interested in my Golf Fitness Stretching Book, “From The Ground Up,” can e-mail me at: [email protected]

The Country Club of Virginia

Adam Smith

Head Golf Instructor

James River Golf Course

The Country Club of Virginia, Richmond, VA

First thing I always do is ask the student if they have any physical limitations that we need to pay attention to.

I do a lot of work with the Philadelphia PGA HOPE program. It is a program for Military Veterans and Wounded Military Veterans, so I understand having to work around possible physical limitation.

First thing I always do is ask the student if they have any physical limitations that we need to pay attention to. We don’t want to do anything that may aggravate an existing problem.

From there I will see if they have any restrictions on their swing; if so we will address it.

If I have to evaluate I like to check see their ability to rotate their body. I have them get into posture, put their hands/arms across their chest in an X and then see how well they rotate.

Next I like to see how much flexibility the have in their shoulders, how high can they lift their arms standing straight up, then in there golf posture.

Next step is to see how flexible their hamstrings are, can they touch their toes, or how close can they get to touching their toes.

Lastly we may check to see how their balance is. Can they stand on one foot at a time an hold for at least 10 seconds.

I don’t need to do this with every student, just ones that appear to have a some limitations. If they have any issues I suggest some stretching exercises that should help them improve.

Flagler Golf Academy

Rick Flagler

PGA Certified Professional

Five Ponds Golf Club | Flagler Golf Academy, Warminster, PA

We do a full physical assessment starting with a Functional Movement Screen

Our overall all philosophy begins with “Function Dictates Form”. We do a full physical assessment starting with a Functional Movement Screen testing mobility and stability thru foundational movements as well as neurological connectivity. In addition we utilize screens that are more specific to golf or any rotational athlete . Multi-segmental screens, such as, upper and lower body separation, pelvis control testing, unilateral hip rotation test, shoulder mobility/stability, wrist and ankle mobility and stability, strength, speed and power testing.

The Golf Performance Center

Roger Knick

Founder

The Golf Performance Center, Ridgefield, CT

I like to see how much shoulder rotation is possible

Working with lots of seniors I like to see how much shoulder rotation is possible before it compromises the spine angle of the player. Now days even younger players struggle with proper spine angle and shoulder rotation…forcing the teacher to engage in remediation efforts toward flexibility and stability.

Valley Ridge Golf Course

Robert Van Duyse

Head Professional

Valley Ridge Golf Course,

All Matt Stotler Golf Academy students go through a Body Motion and Swing Assessment to determine flexibility.

All Matt Stotler Golf Academy students go through a Body Motion and Swing Assessment to determine flexibility. This is comprised of bending, extending, and rotational values. Breaking it down even more we look at shoulders and hips to see the amount of turn, tilt, bend each student has in these areas.

For the students who are part of the Matt Stotler Golf Academy Coaching Plan, they will also go through a Ball flight analysis, Short game assessment, Putting analysis, and a Trackman Combine. Determining where a student has limitations can help build a plan for game improvement.

Matt Stotler Golf

Matt Stotler

PGA Golf Professional

Founder

Matt Stotler Golf Enterprises, Franklin, OH

An injury or physical limitation can dictate the roadmap for making swing changes.

Understanding your student’s physical limitations is extremely important for a good instructor. An injury or physical limitation can dictate the roadmap for making swing changes. At Swing Essentials, we simply ask the student if they have any limitations or injuries. This will allow our instructors to ensure that we avoid further injury to these areas. For in-person lessons we ask our students to throw a golf ball as far as they can down the driving range. A simple “baseball throw” mimics the golf swing in so many ways. For instance, We can see if the student can load their weight and transfer it to their front foot, tilt their spine away and then toward the target, measure their torque and rotation, or assess their hand-eye coordination. Submit your swing to SwingEssentials.com and get your free golf swing analysis today!

AJ Nelson is the Founder of the Swing Essentials golf app

AJ Nelson

PGA Golf Professional

Swing Essentials Golf App, Centreville, VA

If you can stand up on your own and move your arms and legs- you are able to make a golf swing.

If you can stand up on your own and move your arms and legs- you are able to make a golf swing. I have yet to find someone with those abilities not be able to perform a golf swing with enough speed to play the game. The idea that some needs to go spend 20 sessions with a trainer because they fail a static physical screen – and that failed screen is the reason why they have a particular swing fault is a joke to me.

Butterfield Country Club

Mike Carbray

PGA Director of Instruction

Butterfield Country Club,

Right off the bat, a hand shake to determine hand strength.

Right off the bat, a hand shake to determine hand strength. Toe touches for hamstring tightness. If you can’t touch your toes there might be issues that create lower back problems. Hip Twisters to see if they can disassociate upper and lower body. Shoulder rotation test. If you do not have proper shoulder rotation it is impossible to get in the slot at pre impact.

Barry Churchill

2017 New England PGA Teacher of the Year

Stonebridge Golf Club, Monroe,, North Carolina

Put them through a TPI screening that consists of 16 tests

I see a lot of students that are older and have limited range of motion. I’m a TPI Certified Coach. Put them through a TPI screening that consists of 16 tests and a couple of extras if they cannot perform the full test. For example, if the student can’t do the deep squat test properly, we test for dorsi flexion in ankles/feet. The tests we run are not just for flexibility. They are also for balance and strength.
The most common issues are weak glutes and abs, super tight hamstrings and I.T. bands, hip flexors, neck, and shoulders. Also lack of disassociation of lower and upper body is also common and something I test for.

Kevin Dorsch

PGA Golf Professional

Gateway Golf & Country Club

NBC Golf Channel Academy w/ David Impastato, Ft. Myers, FL

I usually work together with a fitness professional

I have the students perform some basic tests from the TPI screening process; however, I am not an expert in this field and do not feel comfortable analyzing their limitations in detail. That is why I usually work together with a fitness professional and refer my clients to them. This ensures they get the correct evaluation so we can properly help and guide them.

Chris Ardolina

PGA Teaching Professional

Wycliffe Golf & Country Club, Wellington, FL

I took the TPI Level 1 seminar a few years ago, so I run them through the screening tests.

I took the TPI Level 1 seminar a few years ago, so I run them through the screening tests.

Jim Peters Golf

Jim Peters

PGA Certified in Instruction | Master Golf Teaching Professional

Jim Peters Golf, Cincinnati, OH

I tend to use the TPI screens to assess physical limitations in the shoulders, hips, wrists, ankles, glutes, etc.

As a TPI certified professional I tend to use the TPI screens to assess physical limitations in the shoulders, hips, wrists, ankles, glutes, etc. TPI lays out specific screens that a professional can learn and implement in their

Alison Curdt

PGA Master Professional

LPGA National Vice-President

Wood Ranch Golf Club, Simi Valley, CA

On all stretch’s I observe balance and posture

First observe the students locomotion as they come to tee. Vertical stretch by placing hands on top of stretch pole and stretching hips as far as possible from stretch pole. Hold stretch pole and repeat with legs crossed . Place stretch pole across shoulders and rotate torso holding lower body still then hold torso still and rotate lower body. Now make super slow motion golf swings.
On all stretch’s I observe balance and posture.

Abacoa Golf Club

Rick Martino

PGA Master Professional

PGA National Teacher of the Year

Abacoa Golf Club, Jupiter, FL

It’s always good to just ask them before they start with you

With regards to physical limitations with your students, it’s always good to just ask them before they start with you (as an instructor) if they have any physical limitations you should know about. Then, adjust the lessons to adapt to those limitations accordingly. There are tests you can do to determine flexibility for example though. The best test I can think of is to have your student try to touch their toes with their legs straight and feet together. If they can touch their toes or come close they’re probably pretty flexible and most likely won’t have any problem swinging the club.

Brian Powers

PGA Golf Professional

Master Golf Teaching Professional®

River Ridge Golf Club, Oxnard, CA

I run them through a performance evaluation.

I run them through a performance evaluation. Mostly TPI with my own spin and of course ask many questions about their current fitness level and level of training.

GlenArbor Golf Club

Rob Labritz

Director of Golf

GlenArbor Golf Club,

I will fairly thoroughly check range of motion, etc.

I am generally not a fan of conducting anything like a full screening before getting down to the lesson. It is often irrelevant if a student’s left elbow has a restriction if what we’re working on is their knee work. Which is not to say I don’t ever check on anything here – I will fairly thoroughly check range of motion, etc. when dealing with an area that seems affected, if the student mentions anything about tightness or pain or anything, and so on.

PGA Professional

Erik Barzeski

Head Instructor

Golf Evolution, Erie, PA

TPI assessments along with a number of things we used in my Nicklaus/Flick Golf School days.

I use TPI assessments along with a number of things we used in my Nicklaus/Flick Golf School days.

The Golf Center at the Highlands

Mark Maness

PGA Director of Instruction

The Highlands Performance Golf Center , Carrollton, TX

I start with the lower body and move to the upper body.

I start with the lower body and move to the upper body.

I start with the ankles, knees, hips, rib cage, then back. Sometimes I have my student setup to hit a shot, then instead I’ll put a golf ball behind their club and have them push it back. Then I’ll measure swing speed, ball speed, and smash factor. Sometimes I’ll also perform a few drills with a medicine ball to determine core strength.

Sean Gorgone

PGA Golf Professional

Master Player, Instructor and Coach

Rio Golf Academy, Longwood, FL

Have them swing the golf club...You can see immediately their physical limitations...

Have them swing the golf club…You can see immediately their physical limitations…

Frank Panetta

PGA Golf Professional

Teaching Professional

CordeValle Golf Club, San Martin, CA

Watch them hit 3 or 4 balls

Watch them hit 3 or 4 balls

Dan Breslin

Golf Director and Owner

Red Hawk Golf Club, Tamaroa, IL