When determining a players physical capacity to generate speed we must analyze factors beyond the traditional Stability/Mobility screens. It is essential to evaluate Strength and Power.
As a coach, it is important to understand the difference between strength and power. Simply put Strength is the amount of force your muscles can generate and Power refers to how quickly the muscles can generate a particular force. The two most important tests to measure a player’s physical capacity to generate speed are Squat Jump Height and Seated Medicine Ball Throw.
Understanding how to develop physical capacity in your player is critical to helping them achieve their power goals. For the physically weak golfer an increase in strength will tend to increase force across the entire Force-Velocity Curve. This tells us that this player will experience an increase in power and the ability to generate force at all speeds. For players who reach or exceed the strength baseline required to meet their goals a different approach must be taken in order to raise their power output levels.
There are two key factors in developing power in such a player. The first is an understanding of human muscle fiber composition. The skeletal muscles of the human body are primarily comprised of two types of fibers; Type I and Type II. Type I fibers are more commonly known as Slow Twitch (ST) and Type II are commonly referred to as Fast Twitch (FT). The human body’s natural composition is approximately a 50/50 balance between ST/FT muscle fibers. Specialized training techniques can be employed to increase the ratio of either ST or FT muscle fibers. A combination of Plyometric, Olympic, and Ballistic Weight exercises has proven to be the most effective in increasing FT fiber density. Plyometrics promote high-speed movement that requires increased FT muscle fiber recruitment. Olympics lifts require a very high rate of force production and involve total body coordination including hip, knee, and ankle extension. Ballistic Weight exercises such as Barbell Squat Jumps, Power Snatch, Power Clean, and Bench Press Throw should be performed with 50-60% of 1RM and have proven to be more effective than under loaded exercises such as Medicine Ball Throws.
The second key component of becoming a more powerful player is developing the neurological system that controls skeletal muscle movement or contraction. Olympic lifts are excellent for this, even using light weight. Many golfers who have not participated in maximal power output sports do not have the neurological capacity to recruit FT fibers from their entire body. These individuals can experience rapid power gains without increasing strength by performing any of the exercises listed above with weights as low as 25-35% of their 1RM.