This is not a secret but people seem to miss this one. Having a functional squat and then loading it to build strength will change how you are able to play golf, and it will change how you move in life. Ideally, it is all the way down, meaning the creases of the hips below the knees with a long spine. Why is this movement important to golf? Squats are for football players, who need strong legs, right? As golfers we need strong legs too, but just as important as the leg strength that comes with squatting is the core strength and mobility required to squat with good form. The squat is simple, but requires mobility and stability, through a multi-segmental movement. If you have a loss of posture in your golf swing, learning to squat could be the secret ingredient to being able to maintain your posture through impact. If you are losing your posture in your golf swing, working on hand position or creating more lag is just a waste of time. The Titleist Performance Institute has connected Early Extension (losing your posture toward the ball) to the inability to overhead deep squat.
We all agree that golf is a rotational sport, but sometimes doing more rotation doesn’t provide your body with the adaptations it needs to make your swing better. Does it have to look like golf to improve your golf game? Of course not, but many of the exercises that are presented in the media to golfers are rotational movements because little explanation is needed to communicate their likely positive benefit to your golf swing. Squats may seem like a boring or generic movement with little carryover to the golf swing, but their benefit to your golf swing and your daily movement patterns are numerable.
Here are few benefits of squatting:
- Squatting puts your hips through external hip rotation. In you backswing your trail hip internally rotates while your lead hip externally rotates. In you downswing you lead hip internally rotates and your trail hip externally rotates. Gaining the hip mobility to squat well is key to having mobile hips in your golf swing. Mobile hips will also keep your lower back safe.
- Squatting requires ankle dorsiflexion, which is the approximation of your tibia to your foot. If your ankle mobility is limited in this dimension, it will difficult to set up into and maintain your posture in your golf swing.
- A good squat will be one where your spine is long, but not necessarily vertical. Chris has really awesome squatting mechanics. You may not be able to get as deep or as tall as he does, but it is something to aspire to. To get tall in your squat your thoracic spine needs to be able to produce extension. Rotation of the spine is a coupled action of extension on one side of you spine and flexion on the other. There is no pure spinal rotation, your vertebrae do not rotate on top of each other. For example, in your backswing (for a righty) your spine extends on the right and flexes on the left to produce rotation. Because most of us sit quite a bit in our daily lives, we end up spending a significant amount of time in spinal flexion. This makes it difficult to produce extension. Improving your spinal extension will not only help you squat better, but also to produce better rotation in your golf swing.
- Squatting demands core strength and balance. If you were to include a kettlebell or other load there would be even more ‘core’ activation. However, without a load your body has to use all of the intrinsic core stabilizing muscles to keep you upright. Sometimes adding a light kettlebell to prying squats can help as a counter balance, and to get you a little more core activation so you can get into a better position.
- Prying at the bottom of your squat is a great way to open your hips and ankles and bring even more movement and range of motion to the bottom position of your squat.
- And finally, when you have a great squat, you can safely load it and build more strength for more power.
If you are not already doing The Daily Habit, sign up for it here. It is a daily movement practice that we send to your inbox once a week. It will have 3-4 different mobility/stability drills to get your body moving better so you can live well and play well.