The effects of power type resistance training on golf driver club head speed

Schofield, Mike Trevor
Storey, Adam
Cronin, John
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Master of Sport and Exercise
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Auckland University of Technology

Resistance training for golf performance has grown in popularity as golfers are seeking increases in driving distance to combat longer golf courses. Various gym based interventions are employed within golf, with flexibility, rehabilitation, hypertrophic and strength type protocols being integrated by strength and conditioners. Currently, the vast majority of golf specific resistance training programs consist of hypertrophic type training parameters yet the effects of maximal power type training remain unknown. Therefore, the purpose of this thesis was to investigate the question: What are the effects of power type training on the club head speed (CHS) of professional male golfers?

Four separate investigations were undertaken within this thesis. First, a review of the current literature pertaining to resistance training in golf was performed. The literature review identified several key outcomes. Firstly, it was evident that the golf swing is an explosive movement in which maximal velocity is obtained in a relatively short period of time. Secondly, cross sectional data supported the inclusion of power training within golf conditioning as increasing explosive muscular force capabilities likely increases CHS. However, such a methodology had not been previously utilised in a longitudinal research design. Finally, it was apparent that rapid force production and rotational ability should be targeted and thus tracked over a conditioning period. In light of this need, we sought to include two novel methods of assessments; the isometric mid-thigh pull (IMTP) performed with chain fixation and the cable down swing.

Prior to the inclusion of adapted or new testing methods into academic research reliability of the method is warranted. As such, chapter two sought to determine the reliability of isometric mid-thigh pull (IMTP) peak force (PF), and early impulse at predetermined time brackets (0-30, 0-50, 0-100, 0-200) using the new chain fixation method. Ten participants were recruited for the purpose of test-retest reliability and were assessed over three separate occasions (separated by a minimum 3 days, max 7 days). It was concluded that all kinetic variables were reliable when IMTP chain fixation was used (ICC = 0.85 – 0.98, CV = 3.29% – 4.02%, CM = - 6.17 – 3.54%). As such this novel method was included into study four to determine pre to post changes in muscular force expression.

In addition to the IMTP force measures it was concluded that a golf specific rotational assessment was warranted as no such assessment existed in the current literature. Therefore, a cable downswing (CDS) load velocity spectrum was proposed as a novel assessment of golf specific rotational velocity. As such Chapter 4 aimed to quantify the test-retest reliability of the CDS load velocity spectrum. Ten elite golfers were recruited and participated in three separate testing occasions (separated by a minimum of 3 days and a maximum 7 days). Following data analysis velocity at all loads (1.25 – 18.75kg) were observed to be extremely reliable (ICC = 0.70 – 0.97, CV = 1.5% – 6.4%, CM = -5.1% – 2.9%). Thus the CDS load velocity spectrum was included in the thesis as a method of quantifying change in rotational velocity over a longitudinal conditioning period.

During Chapter 5, two high performance professional golfers were recruited to take part in a six week intervention investigating the effects of maximal power resistance type training on golf driver CHS. Due to the intensive tournament and travel schedules of professional golfers, a single subject research design was chosen for this investigation. Three pre intervention baseline measures of neuromuscular performance (IMTP and CDS load – velocity spectrum) and two golf specific baseline measures (CHS and accuracy) were taken over a 10 day period. In addition, the post intervention measures of neuromuscular performance were collected on three occasions across 10 days to establish if real changes occurred over the course of the intervention. Golf CHS was assessed at two pre intervention intervals and two post intervention time points.

Following the six-week training intervention, both participants were observed to have substantially increased CHS (P1 = 3.1%, P2 = 3.9%, > ± 2SD) and had trended towards greater accuracy as depicted by visually interpreted statistics. However, no substantial change in kinetic variables occurred during IMTP testing with the exception of early impulse. Furthermore, CDS velocity increased through all assessed loads (P1 = 5.2 – 20.1%, P2 = 14.0 – 17.6%, > ± 2SD). Thus, the training study provided evidence that maximal power training is an effective means to increase CHS in highly trained and experienced professional golfers. However, in light of the lack of definitive increase in IMTP kinetics it is possible that Olympic movements are possibly too complex to elicit a training effect in such a short intervention.

In conclusion, the current thesis provides evidence that power training within golf is a valid method of increasing CHS. In addition, increasing rotational velocity should be a primary focus within golf specific strength and conditioning. As limited improvements in isometric kinetic outputs were observed, decisive conclusions on the impact the training intervention had on lower (i.e. IMTP) body kinetics cannot be made.

Golf , Power training
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