This post is the sixth in a series about a few important tests that TPI fitness professionals can use to diagnose your golf strengths and weaknesses by observing your body’s strengths and weaknesses. This week, we’re going to talk about the Single Leg Balance test, which tests stability, balance, and an important quality called proprioception.
To perform the test, stand up straight with your feet shoulder width apart. Hold your arms down at your sides, but not touching your sides Lift up one knee until your thigh is parallel with the ground. Get stable, and then close your eyes. Have someone time how long you can stand that way without making any adjustments (i.e., without leaning or lifting your arms up higher.) Repeat on the other leg.
If you make it to 25 seconds, that’s amazing. Most people can’t do that, and you’ve done a great job. If you can’t do 25 seconds, that’s okay, just time how long you can do it for. If you can go more than ten seconds, you’re doing better than about 60% of amateur golfers and 40% of PGA tour pros.
Sight is probably a human being’s most important sense. We use more information about our world through our eyes than from any other source. We even use our vision to keep ourselves balanced, but when we can’t use our eyes to test our balance, we use the balance-sensors in our inner ear, along with our sense of proprioception. Proprioception is your sense of where your body is in space. It’s what allows you to close your eyes and touch your nose, or to keep running while you’re looking up to catch a ball.
Balance and proprioception are critical to golf performance, and that’s why we’re testing them here. So what if your balance isn’t so hot? There are a few exercises you can do:
1. Single leg balance golf stance:
Get into golf posture and lift one leg, bending at the knee and letting your raised foot stay behind you. Try to balance first with your eyes open, then with your eyes closed. Repeat on the other leg.
2. Single leg balance golf stance, narrow base:
Get into golf posture and lift one leg, similar to the previous exercise. Once you’re stable, lift your heel up off the ground and try to balance on the ball of your foot. This will be very challenging. Try with eyes open and closed, and repeat on the other leg.
This test isn’t easy, and it’s important to realize that everybody is on a continuum of ability here. Still, developing your balance is essential for great golfers, and it’s also a good way to prevent injury and enhance your quality of life.
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