In part 2 of this series, we’re going to discuss another of the training methods and why it makes us able to swing with more clubhead speed.
Keep in mind that a high clubhead speed has only a correlation to great driving distance. We will need to couple our increased speed with good contact and efficient ball flight if we are to turn it into good distance.
Example: Player A has a swing speed of 100 mph, with perfect contact netting 150 mph of ball speed, 16 degrees of launch, and 2200 rpms of backspin. He reaches 284 yards.
Player B speed trains to reach 110 mph clubhead speed, but does not hit the sweet spot and gets only 156 mph ball speed. He launches it at 9 degrees with 2950 rpms of backspin. He reaches 275 yards – well short of his optimal at a touch over 310.
Player B has a much more powerful swing but gets outdriven by Player A who is simply more efficient.
So while it is likely that with proper speed training you will get faster, keep in mind that this is no substitute for good fundamentals and properly fitting equipment. You should determine which of the three areas is your weakest, and spend the most time improving that aspect of your driving game.
You can work on all 3 at the same time.
When we swing a club or device that it heavier than our own driver, we call this overweight training. Of course, during this type of speed training it is a given that we are going at all out effort. This is not for everyone, and a topic for another article.
Scientific inquiry into overweight training was until recently limited to baseball bats and much of the early work by Dr. Coop DeRenne at the University of Hawaii. Possible gains in the golf swing had to be extrapolated.
Now becoming a more powerful athlete seems to be universal to all sports, and golf is no different. Scientists have increasingly turned their eye to studying both the kinetics and physiology of this motion.
It is currently thought that merely an extra 8-10% weight is the best range to load a club for best results. However, some exercise physiology experts like former pitcher Tom House recommend up to 20% overload. Anything outside this range is too slow and not specific enough for optimal gain. There will be some effect, but not worth the exponential increase in injury risk.
With a 300-320 gram driver being fairly standard this represents only about 25 grams of net extra weight. This is equivalent to about one ounce – two at the most.
When an implement more than 20% heavier than your normal driver is used, it changes the neuropathways used to organize and fire the muscles. You will get faster at swinging the heavier club, but this speed will not transfer well to your actual driver. A golf swing is such a specific act, that we must take care to stay within a certain corridor with our speed training.
There are devices on the market that are endorsed by supposed top 100 teachers in the world that are way outside the +/-20% parameter. I can’t help but think in this day and age they haven’t done any homework and are just whoring out for a quick buck. I first studied and implemented this type of training in 2004 – but the amount of good scientific information out now is a thousand fold.
Generally speaking, training with a heavier weighted club than your normal driver, your muscles will eventually be able to produce more force. More force at the beginning of the downswing will allow greater acceleration of the clubhead if the force can also be recruited in a more organized manner and can peak faster.
Muscles respond to challenge. So while in lifting weights, we would typically continue to up the weight to make the muscles continue to grow. However, achieve more speed in golf a different way – with increased intensity and repetitions during a training session.
When doing the bench press, you may find that after a few weeks of the same weight, you can finish a set a little faster as the weight seems easier. You may also feel a little more in control of the movement.
Gaining speed in golf is very similar. The muscles haven’t grown any bigger, but they have become more organized in their ability to produce force all together in a team effort.
Ensuring intensity in a golf swing can be done by pairing your weighted driver with a speed radar device. Say you’ve reached 100 mph for a new clubhead speed record. If you keep striving for 101 and then 102 your central nervous system and muscles will keep adapting. Just the intent to swing faster than ever before will challenge the brain to better coordinate the motor units within muscles used to swing the club.
It is not uncommon to see a 5-10 mph gain in 6 weeks, if you train 3 days a week. For some people this type of training may stimulate a whole new kinetic response. I’ve seen 20 mph picked up in a 30 minute lesson.
Generally the higher your clubhead speed already is, the slower the gains will occur. A tour player will have to train for weeks or months to get a substantial gain in speed.
We will discuss overspeed or underweighted training next time.