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Wednesday's with WVPT
Author: Ryan Hubbard
February 1st 2017 - “The Force”: How the small frame of Justin Thomas produces results
 
 
mt-thomas-trophy-c-1-8-17.jpgOver the past century we have seen golfers of different body types have success in professional golf.  I have always been amazed at the athletes who are smaller in stature compete above the level of their lengthy counterparts.  As a Boston sports fan, I am currently watching Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics weave his 5’9” frame seamlessly through the 7 footers of the NBA.  In golf I think of 5’6” Gary Player competing in and winning majors starting in the 50’s.  Now in present day as we head into the meat of the PGA Tour season we are seeing something special with the play of 23-year-old Justin Thomas.  Thomas has already posted 3 wins on tour so far this season, including a first round 59 at the Sony Open in Hawaii.  Now how does someone that is listed at 5’10” 145 lbs rank 12th on tour in driving distance at 308 yards on average?  That’s what I would like to discuss in this edition of “Wednesdays with Willem Verweij”.
 
First we need to brush up on our basic physics in order to understand how we generate force production in the golf swing (don’t worry there isn’t a multiple choice test after this).  Newton’s second law (stay with me here) explains the net force = mass of an object x acceleration.  How it applies to golf, a golfer with less mass will have to accelerate faster than a golfer with a higher mass in order to produce the same amount of force.  This also tells us that force is required to produce acceleration (club head speed) and they are proportional.  That leads us to the question, how does a smaller golfer produce more rotational force to attain the club head speed of golfers with more mass?  Part of the answer is from the GROUND. 
 
It has been determined that 1.6 times a golfer’s weight can be transferred to the ground in the golf swing (Williams et al. 1983), which is then transferred back into the swing in order to produce acceleration.  Not to mention the weight shifting involved in order to create momentum.  Now back to Justin Thomas.  In addition to his excellent weight shifting and timing, you can see him come up onto his toes through his downswing.  This is more of a vertical displacement of force.  Think about that as an extra “push” into the ground and you may notice his lead foot actually comes off the ground in this video: https://youtu.be/Shk6obgJMsE Justin-Thomas-swing-sequence-crop.jpg
 
There are some Olympic style lifting techniques that fall within the strength and conditioning realm that can really help with vertical displacement of force and explosiveness.  One of them being the “Clean” and other variations.  However, these are more expert level exercises and require hands on instruction from a physical therapist, trainer, or other strength and conditioning expert.  Below are some exercises that I like to use in the clinic at the beginner/intermediate level to help introduce proper force production from the ground up.  Remember that these exercises will help with the physical tools of the golf swing, but I always recommend consulting your local PGA Professional in conjunction with exercise in order to take your game to the next level.
 
  1. Low to high pulls
    1. http://www.mytpi.com/exercises#low_to_high_pulls
  2. Medicine ball throw
    1. http://www.mytpi.com/exercises#med-ball_discus_throw
  3. Box Squats
    1. http://www.mytpi.com/exercises#box_squats
  4. More advanced: Squat Jumps
    1. http://www.mytpi.com/exercises/#squat_jumps
 
 
Please consult your local health professional to make sure these exercises are appropriate for you.  If you are experiencing any pain or looking to improve the power in your golf swing please contact us at (603)335-4700 or email me directly at ryan@wvphysicaltherapy.com
 
 

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