We all try many ways to improve our game and our swings. We practice, get custom fitted for equipment and go for regular lessons in an effort to get better. However are we limited in what we can acheive by our bodies? According to the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI), the answer is yes.
Over the years, TPI has indentified that to swing a golf club efficiently your body needs to have a combination of movement and stability. If there is any limitation of your body movements due to inflexibility then the way you swing will be affected.
If for instance your coach wants you to drop the club on the inside at the start of the downswing, your stiff shoulder may make that move impossible for you to make. What the TPI assessment will do is identify issues like this and then prescribe exercises for you to do in your own time to enable you to make these moves. The ideal scenario is for the TPI Physio to work in conjunction with your coach, but that is not imperative.
Getting TPI Assessed
I had heard of this approach so when Neil Aitken of www.swingprophysio.com was speaking at my local golf club and went along and was very impressed by the TPI approach. He has already helped several European Tour players make a move their coach wanted them to do that they previously couldn't in a matter of weeks.
For most of my life I have had as much flexibility as plank left out overnight in the Artic, so after signing up for the TPI initial assessment I was prepared for the worst.
The 1500 word assessment that was posted in my online account at www.mytpi.com said that my pelvic posture was good and that my lower body stability rotation and separation from my body was also good. But that was it. The rest of me is not golf friendly.
There are too many areas to cover here, but the 2 biggest ones were tightness in my hips and calves that was resticting my backswing, making the correct move through impact impossible and cost me power. My hip rotation should be between 50 and 60 degrees and I was doing well to get to 30 degrees. Even though this measured using a couple of golf clubs on the ground, this was backed up by the hip rotation analysis I have done using the GolfSense Swing Analyser.
My TPI Program
After the analysis Neil set up an exercise program of 9 exercises on the MyTPI website that I committed to do 3 times a week for about 45 minutes each time. As we improve each area the exercises will be modified and after 6 weeks there would be another assessment and then the program would be reset.
The program can be done wherever you want as it has been designed for tour players to do in hotel rooms when they travel and also as a warm up before you play.
Logging into the MyTPI site was easy and each exercise had a very good video demonstration that you can also download to your phone or computer to take with you. This is the better option as the videos are not streamed which makes viewing them online a bit of a slow process.
In addition I opted to speed the process up by going for weekly sessions with Neil to mobilise my hips to speed the process up as I figured I needed it. We track progress each session and I gained about 5 degrees of external and internal rotation on each hip after the first one. Maintaining and improving it with the exercise program is going to the be the key.
Usually with all golf training aids, practise routines and coaching, I usually ask myself if this makes sense and I would have to say that the TPI program does. Titleist use it to evaluate every player they sign up so therefore it is Tour proven and can now be applied to the masses.
The exercises have been easy to do and the videos have been a useful reminder of what to do, although sometimes another pair of eyes is worthwhile having to make sure you are doing them correctly.
I have felt a difference in my hips and legs and also through the rest of my body since starting the exercises and after 3 weeks I can get my hip turn up to 40 degrees which is a 33% improvement. It will be interesting to see how far I can get in the first 6 week session and how this will affect my swing as I start my pre-season practice in February. Stay tuned.
To find your nearest TPI instructor visit www.mytpi.com.