A ‘good shoulder turn’. It’s a term we often hear in relation to the golf swing. However, it’s not the shoulders doing the turning – rather, it’s the upper body that turns, and the ‘shoulders come along for the ride’.
That’s how strength and conditioning coach, Jamie Greaves, views it, although that’s not to underestimate the importance of the shoulders. Greaves is keen to stress that many of the best shoulder exercises for golf focus on improving external rotation.
‘A lot of issues with the golf swing I see amongst amateur golfers come from a lack of external rotation of the trail shoulder’, says Greaves, who works with a number of Tour professionals as well as club golfers.
‘I’ll see players who are really rounded through the shoulder blades. The joint itself doesn’t sit in the best position, and that restricts your range of motion, which in turn limits the power you can generate and how far you’re able to hit the ball.’
This lack of mobility is especially evident amongst senior golfers, many of whom suffer because their shoulder joint has been ‘set in its ways’ for upwards of 40 years.
‘It’s that flying right elbow’, explains Greaves. ‘It doesn’t mean senior golfers can’t play good golf, but you want to see that right elbow folding under a bit more. That’s where that external rotation comes in.’
Before you get the dumbbells out, Greaves highlights one other point.
‘From a strength and power point of view, you want your shoulders to be strong, but no more than any other part of the body – so I say the same about the legs and chest. It’s about being well-rounded.’
With that in mind, here are the best shoulder exercises for golf, moves that will help you to improve both strength and external rotation.
Should you find it difficult to picture these exercises, click the links and watch the videos for a clear explanation.
This is a great place to start, as you can use it to see how well your shoulder rotates.
Begin standing with one shoulder, wrist and elbow in a 90-degree position at shoulder height. Then, rotate the forearm behind you as much as you can to externally rotate the shoulder.
Next, rotate down as much as possible for internal rotation. It’s important not to just flick the wrist, lean from the torso, or let the shoulder ‘hike up’. Make a note of your range of motion and repeat this range of motion on the other side.
Shoulder Diamond ER
This is another of my favourite exercises – it’s a simple mobility move to increase external rotation.
Start by lying face down with your forehead resting on the floor and have both hands just in front of your head, with the arms bent at 90 degrees to form a diamond shape.
From here, keeping the elbow pressed into the floor, lift your hand up as much as possible to externally rotate the shoulder.
Be sure to pause at your end range before lowering and repeating on the other side. Continue to alternate sides, externally rotating as much as you can and ‘owning’ that end range of motion each time.
When performing this exercise, you need to ensure that you don’t lift off the floor with your torso as you move. And don’t compensate by just flicking the wrist.
To progress this exercise, raise your hands off the ground in the start position – you can use a yoga block if you want. This helps you to work in an area closer to your end range throughout the movement.
Another option is to externally rotate both shoulders at the same time, but whichever variation you use, perform controlled reps with minimal compensations, pausing at end ranges each time.
Begin by lying face down with your fingertips behind your head and your forehead on the ground.
From here, you want to draw the elbows back, and lift the hands off and hold. Straighten the arms and then bring them behind you, making sure they remain straight and that you naturally rotate them about halfway.
Place the hands on your lower back, draw the elbows back, and lift off. Straighten the arms behind you and then bring them back up to the start position.
As you perform this motion, it’s crucial that you keep the rest of the body flat to the floor. The higher you move the hands up your back, the more challenging the internal lift off becomes, so be sure to pick a suitable level.
Finally, go slow and controlled, and feel the motion through the shoulders.
Start seated with your back supported on a bench and holding the dumbbells in the top part of a bicep curl position.
Then, rotate the dumbbells out before pressing overhead. Reverse the process, lowering the weights down slowly and under control.
You want the entire motion to happen at the shoulders, so try not to let the elbows drop too much as you rotate, and make sure to lock the arms out overhead as you press.
It’s also important that you ensure the dumbbells don’t drift out to the side, you don’t arch excessively through the spine as you press, and that you don’t dip the head forward as you rotate the dumbbells.
Stay strong in your original starting position and rotate and press with intent on every rep.
For more golf exercises and advice on how you can improve your game, visit jggolffitness.co.uk.