Before starting any sort of training routine, it is extremely important that you are screened by a qualified individual regarding any medical conditions or underlying issues that may affect your participation. A comprehensive golf fitness assessment will examine the numerous aspects of you health and physical condition that are important to golf.
Even if you don't have any specific medical conditions or problems, this assessment should still be performed. You would be amazed by how many people I see in the clinic who don't have any specific complaints of discomfort, yet have very poor flexibility, range of motion, and/or strength. While they may not have any current pain, their underlying limitations that they didn't even realize that they had could lead to significant problems down the road.
This page will discuss all of the key components of a standard golf fitness assessment and will at least provide you with information in regards of things to look for with yourself. It is by no means, however, supposed to replace having a trained professional perform the assessment themselves!
The first component of any fitness assessment should be a basic health questionnaire and evaluation. Specific items to look for include:
The majority of the items are mentioned here are self explanatory. Making sure that the participant doesn't have any prior or current medical issue that would affect their ability to exercise is of the utmost importance.
The National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends body composition testing for those beginning a golf fitness program. In my opinion, this is the least important item that I have listed but I do see its significance from an assessment perspective in addition to being educational for the participant as well as a motivational factor.
Finally, establishing a cardiovascular baseline is an important to see exactly what the participant is capable of and will help the professional establish starting exercise intensities for cardio workouts.
In my opinion, this is the most important aspect of the entire golf fitness assessment. Analyzing not only how the golfer moves but their general posture at rest provides a wealth of information that ultimately decides the roadmap for training.
-Posture: I have already written a number of pages for this website in regards to the importance of posture (specific exercises, and correction tips) so I will keep this relatively brief. Looking at someones posture allows me to determine muscle tension, length, and altered mechanics. Every joint needs to be looked at because an issue at one can very easily influence another. Also, the body needs to be inspected from multiple angles in order to get the entire picture.
-Movement Assessment: The next step is to put the body in motion in order to analyze movement patterns and relationships. The golf swing is comprised of a multitude of motions working in unison. With this part of the screen, we break it all down into very specific motions that contribute either directly or indirectly to the swing. Key areas to inspect include the shoulders, spine, and hips. Muscular strength and endurance is also looked at with technique being extremely important. Specific movements to be tested, according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine include:
This is just a sampling of what the NASM recommends. While performing all of the recommended movements will give you a comprehensive evaluation, sometimes it just isn't possible to test every single one for various reasons. For example, if the golfer has a history of a knee replacement, assessing their vertical jump probably isn't a good idea! A handful of specific tests combined with a proper analysis of their swing should be enough for a trained professional to establish a training program.
The FMS (Functional Movement Screen) is another assessment tool that is commonly used. It is comprised of a variety of movements and its scoring system gives you a number relating to your functional level. I like the FMS test as a whole but my only complaint is that it isn't golf specific. If you would like to read more, I have an entire page dedicated specifically to the FMS here.
A golf specific fitness assessment takes into account many different aspects and the more comprehensive it is, the easier it will be for the fitness professional to design a program for your needs. There are different schools of thought for a fitness assessment (TPI, NASM, FMS etc.) but the common thread amongst all of them is to determine exactly what the issues are with each individual so that they can be addressed and the functional level improved.
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