Purpose: To determine the impact of a Sling Exercise Training (SET) core stability program on maximal club-head velocity in competitive junior golf players.
Methods: 2 teams of junior golfers (SET 15+2 yr 13 handicap, CON 15.8 yr 6 handicap) performed either 9 wks x 2.wk-1 specific core and rotational stability training (SET, n=10), or standard strength training 2.wk-1 (CON, n=10). Maximal club-head velocity was measured over 10 trials before and after the intervention period using a dedicated velocity measurement system system.
Results: Preliminary within-days learning effects trials showed very stable stroke to stroke velocity (CV 1.6%). Between days (~7 days) reliability for maximal club-head velocity was also excellent (r= 0.99, mean diff= 0.1 m.sec-1 ). Baseline performance was similar in both groups (SET 42.1+4.1 m.s -1 , CON 42.7+5.7 m.s 1). However, at post-test SET increased club head velocity 3.8% (95% CI 2.6-4.8%, p< 0.001) compared to 1.2% in CON (95% CI 0.0-1.0%, p=0.05). Standing balance in the golf swing position was also measured using a computerized balance platform. However, no significant balance changes were observed in either group.
Conclusions: A unique functional stability program consisting of progressively unstable, closed kinetic chain exercises for the hips and torso appears to improve rotational power in a highly specific performance task. The magnitude of the improvement (Effect Size= 0.4) is small but meaningful from a performance standpoint (equivalent to 10-15m increase in drive distance). This is to our knowledge one of the first studies to demonstrate a transfer of generalized core stability training to a specific performance task.