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Friday, July 10, 2009

A Swing In The Balance

Connecting your brain to your body sounds like a dangerous approach to the golf swing, especially if you're like me and try very hard to eliminate swing thoughts. But I recently experienced a brief demo of a workout regimen that promises to make that connection the right way--by using bio-mechanical feedback to increase your stability, strength, and flexibility--and I have to say it makes a lot of sense.

It's the Flexor Swing Training Method developed by sports physiologist Skip Latella. The system is based on a set of exercises and movements that train proper position and movement patterns to improve your balance, a key component in a solid golf swing.

In the demo, Latella had me take a few warm up swings, then take the club back to the top of my backswing and hold it for a moment while he touched me lightly on the back, almost knocking me over. It was a shock how tenuous my balance was at that key moment, although considering how erratic my driving has been lately, it shouldn't have come as any surprise.

Then he put me through three short exercises with a three-foot foam roll while standing on two inflatable balance disks. Each movement replicated the golf swing in increasingly difficult patterns, although the hardest part was staying steady on the balance disks. After just three reps of each movement, he had me take the driver back to the top again, then pushed me from behind. I stayed stable, which convinced me that the method has a lot of promise.

I could see how a longer workout would build strength and flexibility, too, since just staying upright on the balance disks is a chore. Latella's program consists of a minimum of six sessions with a certified trainer (several club pros offer it now), with practice workouts between to reinforce the lessons the body is learning. He's offering the program at Club 1133 in White Plains, NY, which is where I saw it.

I've fought an unfortunate sway in my swing for years. From just this brief demo, I can see how the Flexor training could help eliminate that problem while building a stable base for better control and greater distance.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

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