The ABC’s of Movement Literacy

The foundation of written communication is an alphabet; without it we would not be able to read, write, or communicate effectively.  Similarly, one needs to learn a different set of ABCs in order to gain movement literacy.  Often identified as Agility, Balance, and Coordination, these ABCs serve as the foundation of movement literacy.  Crucial to any athlete’s Long Term Athletic Development (LTAD) is the ability to master the ABC’s of movement literacy.  Furthermore, focusing solely on the long-term goals, whether it’s 12 months or 12 years down the road, can prevent one from making short-term improvement.  By focusing on the present and creating a strong foundation of movement literacy, an athlete can insure that the path to LTAD is achievable.

We often use a similar approach in golf instruction.  As difficult as it may be, short-term struggles can lead to long-term improvements. In order to improve your distance, you may have to temporarily sacrifice your accuracy, or vice versa.  A golfer with a bad hook may have to first learn how to hit a slice to find the middle and start hitting it straight. As golfers, we may be capable of understanding why it is necessary to take a step or two back before making that desired leap forward.

When it comes to the field of strength and conditioning, especially for the game of golf, we tend to expect greater rewards in less time.  The best athletes in the world may possess an innate talent that allows them to succeed, but it still could take years and years of practice in order to reach the pinnacle of their sport.  Developing basic athleticism is no different; it requires tremendous daily effort to improve one’s power, speed, and explosiveness, as well as one’s mobility, flexibility, and endurance.   All of these goals are achievable with a core foundation to build upon, along with the best instruction and coaching to guide you.

Effectively, the ability to manage the ABC’s of movement literacy allow us to progress to more difficult and complex exercises which will have greater benefits in the long term.  If you happened to poke your head into KOHR Golf’s Junior Academy sessions over the past month, or anytime this season for that matter, you will likely have seen at least one or two juniors doing some sort of exercises with mini-resistance bands around their ankles or knees, performing seemingly simple exercises.  Although the majority of the exercises are just that – simple – they are necessary to build the strength needed to compete in golf at a higher level.

Of course it would be much more fun, to simply go straight to box jumps, medicine ball slams, or even some sort of Olympic powerlifting exercises (more on those in a future blog). However, I would be doing the athletes that I work with a disservice to ask them to do an exercise without the proper foundation on which to perform that movement.  Not only would they be risking the chance of injury, they would also likely use certain musculature that was never meant to be used for that specific movement.  While simple exercises may seem mundane, the ability to move with good form and posture must always trump the desire for speed and power.

How does this all pertain to my role as a golf-specific strength and conditioning trainer?  It would be pretty simple to put an athlete, of any age or ability, on an exercise plan that would improve some general cardiovascular health or basic strength.  However, the athletic development from this strategy would probably have little impact on one’s golf performance. The general personal trainer is great for getting clients into better shape, leading healthier lives, and motivating towards self-improvement.   My job as a golf-specific strength and conditioning professional is to analyze the client’s goals and objectives for both the gym and the course. I then design a program that  includes routines and exercises to promote growth and development for both short and long-term goals.

Client goals can vary widely.  A goal could be as simple as improving flexibility to allow for better torso rotation this season;  while an elite junior golfer’s goal may be to create a strategy for the next 18-24 months in order to be properly prepared for the rigors of competing at a Division I golf program.  My sole job is to help individuals, that come to the Performance Center at KOHR Golf, reach their goals both on and off the golf course.

If you are interested in learning about strategies to improve your golf fitness, we can set up an initial meeting to evaluate your personal goals and complete a TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Screening.  This simple process could put you on the proper path to achieving all of your goals both on and off the course this season and beyond!!!