Golf Science

Take advantage of the warm up

Gym workouts, like everything else in life, materialise  along  a spacious spectrum of efficiency. On one side of the spectrum, we have ample time to conduct the perfect session where everything we planned to achieve in our session is achieved. The athlete is engaged and is working hard.  Coach and athlete are happy. Progress has been made. 

 On the other side of the spectrum, we have sessions that are rushed. The athlete is not engaged. Learning and adaptation is minimised. Coach and athlete leave the session thinking that their time could have been better spent doing something else more useful. 

The Average Joe, especially in the world of golf fitness, has this perception that strength and conditioning is all about lifting weights, when in fact, there are so many more components to strength and conditioning than lifting iron. 

Like every other science, sports science is developing and research is showing us potential new and fresh ways of training our athletes better.  Coaches with growth mindsets continue to educate themselves with evolving practices and technologies to provide better coaching for their athletes. 

The question we often face as coaches is: “How do we maximise the limited time with our athletes and what components of fitness should we concentrate on?”

Of course a lot of this comes down to the training age of the athlete, periodisation and stage of the season. 

No matter what period of the season, a good training session should consist of the following:

  1. Good breathing habits 
  2. Mobility training
  3. Stability training 
  4. Cardiovascular training   
  5. Activation 

These components can all be trained in a warm up and can get your training session off to a dynamic and fun start. It is certainly much more productive than 10 minutes on the bike. 

Warm up can be defined as follows:

“Prepare for physical exertion or a performance by exercising or practicing gently beforehand”

There is an excellent opportunity to use a systematic warm up to make our training sessions more efficient. 

At Cannon Performance, we see the warm up as a great opportunity to work on several components of fitness that we want our athletes to benefit from. 

To perform this warm up, you are going to need some space to run. Outside works super, providing it is not cold or wet. An indoor track works great also. The great thing about this warm up is it that it can be used with several athletes at the same time if this training session is in a group environment. 


Foam Rolling (3 mins)

Diaphragmatic breathing (3 mins)

1 x 50 metre stride (40%)

1 x 10 bodyweight squats 

1 x 50 metre stride (40%)

1 x 10 lateral lunges (both legs)

1 x 50 metre stride (40%)

1 x 8 forward lunge (both legs)

1 x 50 metre stride (40%)

1 x 10 dynamic leg raise hamstring mobilty  (both legs)

1 x 10 50 metre stride (40%)

1 x 8 CARS (controlled articular rotations of hip)  both directions both legs

1 x 50 metre stride (40%)

1 x 8 reverse lunge (both legs)

[water break 30 secs]

1 x 50 metre stride (50%)

1 x 10 stiff leg jumps 

1 x 50 metre strides (50%)

1 x 8 CARS (controlled articular rotations of shoulder) both directions both arms

1 x 50 metre strides (50%)

1 x 10 wide stance thoracic reach (alternate)

1 x 50 metre stride (50%)

1 x 8 thoracic circles against wall

3 x 50 metre strides (60 %) 50 metre walk between strides

Whether before a workout or a round of golf, if you want to maximize your performance you have to prepare your body to move well. Hopefully this helps provide some background on how to move with a purpose before your workout and how it benefit you.

Thoracic Mobility

Thoracic mobility. Its pretty important to have if you are a golfer. Or any sport. In fact even if you don’t play sport it is pretty important to have if you want to avoid any horrible neck or back pain. So what is this thoracic area i hear you ask. By definition it is the 12 vertebrae that connect with the ribcage and is located between the lumbar spine(lower back)  and the cervical spine(neck). Lack of movement in this area can cause it to stiffen. As we get older it also tends to stiffen. Having a stiff thoracic spine can cause us to look for range of motion in other areas such as the lower back or the neck. So as a golfer,  improving your thoracic spine is a no brainer to help you avoid any unnecessary back or neck pain.

When i see a client for the first time i screen them to find out what areas need more mobility. The thoracic spine is a common area of the body that needs more mobility. With my clients i like to work on different planes of motion when working on the thoracic spine. Here are three of my favourite Thoracic mobility exercises.

Thoracic Extension Bends


Reachbacks Elbows Down


ELDOA Thoracic Circles




How Strength Training helped Rory McIlroy

In August 2006 Ballyliffin Golf Club was the venue for the Interprovincial championships. For any non Irish reading this, the interprovincial championships is a team competition between the four provinces of Ireland. Connacht, Leinster, Munster and Ulster. I was playing for Leinster and  a 17 year old kid called Rory McIlroy was playing for Ulster. It was here that i first noticed Rory’s interest in fitness. I had just finished a workout in the gym and bumped into Rory in the lobby. “I want to get myself some of those” he said pointing to my biceps. I don’t think they were that impressive back then! But that moment always stuck in my mind as I’ve watched Rory turn himself into an athlete. He has always had an interest in fitness and making himself stronger. With enthusiasm, its a lot easier to have dedication and he clearly has for strength training.

Earlier this week at his media conference at the PGA Championship Rory talked about how he has gained 3kg of muscle in 8 weeks and how much stronger and stable he has become.

Ive had a lot of questions about the topic this week which is the reason for this blog post!

What is Strength Training?

It is the process of effecting overload through the use of progressive resistance exercises with the aim of effecting positive force-time adaptations.

So why has Strength Training helped Rory become a better golfer? There are several reasons.

Injury Prevention

When Rory first turned pro he suffered with some minor back injuries. Back then he didn’t have the strength and stability to cope with the incredible amount of clubhead speed his golf swing produced. This was causing some dysfunction in his body leading to some pain and injury. He quickly addressed this and brought in Steve McGregor to design a programme to make him stronger in areas that needed stabilising such as glutes and abdominals. Since then he has had no back injuries. Building strong tissues- bone, muscle, tendon, ligament has enabled Rory to withstand the forces of gravity and the force of his golf swing.

Stabilisation of his neuromuscular system

Strength training involves both muscle and nerve adaptations. Strengthening the neuromuscular system results in a greater force and power output during a dynamic movement ( such as the golf swing) where speed is a key influence on the amount of force expressed. Rory is better prepared to perform his sport skills with a strong neuromuscular system.

Power and Force

Rory is ranked 3rd in driving distance on the PGA Tour this season at 310.3 yards. Last season he was 8th at 302.2. Interestingly in 2012 he was 5th at 310.1. He has certainly got his distance back this season and hitting it further than ever but more importantly he is hitting it straighter, leading him to hit more greens in regulation. Rory has been training quite a few years now and has a higher training age. This means he is much more specific with his strength training which is required for the enhancement of force and power. Being heavier but with  lower body fat  will help with this.

Leaner and meaner

Strength training burns calories and will reduce body fat levels with the help of a good diet. Increasing the proportion of lean tissue in the body will as a consequence burn more calories during exercise. Also being stronger,  looking leaner and feeling fitter will give anybody a huge psychological boost.

Without doubt strength training has helped Rory McIlroy become the worlds best player. With three majors under his belt already, the sky is the limit to how many he could win in the next twenty years. Being in great shape will help him play for another 20-25 years at the highest level.

Rory is a great role model for young golfers. Not only is he an amazing golfer but also an extremely polite and likeable guy. Any up and coming champion should watch his press conferences and how well he speaks to the media.

Strength training can help to instil order and discipline to any young athletes lifestyle. Which Rory is clearly showing at present.

Cannon Performance