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The Myths of Junior Golf Flexibility Training

by Coach Stephen on

junior golf

The topic of stretching for golfers can become quite a heated debate among fitness professionals.

This is even more so with junior golf flexibility training. As often is the case, egos are threatened and blanket statements are made because they are dramatic and garner attention.

An example would be “junior golfers are unstable and therefore should NEVER stretch.”

Of course this doesn’t help out the junior golfer, their parents or coaches one bit. So I’ll add my two cents, based on my research and 17 years of experience working in this field.

The answer to the question “Should junior golfers stretch?” is…

It depends.

And it actually depends on many variables.

All programs designed for a junior golfer should begin with a comprehensive physical assessment. This will alert the golf fitness coach to any “red flags” – warning signs that need to be cleared by medical professionals before an exercise program is undertaken.

Based on the findings of the assessment, a program can then be designed specifically for the junior golfer as an individual. It is common for a junior golfer to appear to be extremely flexible, yet at the same time have one or two tight areas that are problematic.

I see this all the time with junior boys. They have unstable segments of their spine, resulting in an inability to control the top of the backswing. At the same time, the same junior often has very tight hips. In this case, adding strength and stability to the trunk is advisable, while at the same time working to increase the mobility and flexibility of the hips.

What Kind of Stretching

There are several different types of stretching that can be utilized for different purposes. For example:

Static Stretching: This is the most common type of stretching, where the muscle is taken to moderate stretch and held for 20-60 seconds or more. This type of stretching can be an effective part of a junior golf flexibility training program for areas that need postural correction. Static stretching should NOT be performed within two hours of playing golf. Studies have indicated that doing so can result in a lack of power. After a round of golf is a good option for this type of stretching.

Dynamic Stretching: This stretching protocol involves taking the muscles through a range of motion that provides a moderate stretch, but not holding the end position for more than two seconds. Think of these more as a “movement-stretches”. This is a good option for a pre-round warm-up.

Final Considerations for Junior Golf Flexibility Training

Juniors are a unique group because of the rapid changes that take place within their bodies over a short period of time. Examples include:

1) The range of motion in both the shoulder and hip joints is often inhibited until the age of 10

2) The early teen years can be critical in training flexibility, as juniors start to gain size and strength

3) Monitoring growth spurts can indicate the best times for different phases of training

Junior golf flexibility training should be a constantly monitored process in which the individual junior golfer is given precisely what is need for his/her body at that particular point in time. This will provide a solid foundation for continual improvement and a significant reduction in the chances of injury.

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