TPI Test #8: The Cervical Rotation Test

This is the last in our series of TPI Performance tests.  If you haven’t read the other seven, you should check some out at  The idea behind these tests is that a TPI golf fitness professional can use them to assess your physical strengths and weaknesses, and isolate where you may have problems with your golf swing on that basis.  You can also do them yourself for fun, and just to get an idea of where you stand.

So, what’s the cervical rotation test?  It’s a test we can do to check the mobility of your neck and upper back, which is important for a smooth golf swing with a full range of motion.

Here’s how to do it:
Stand up perfectly straight with your feet together, toes pointing forward.  Keeping your head level, rotate it as far as possible to one side, now tilt your head down and try to touch your chin to your collarbone.  Don’t open your mouth or try to close the gap by moving your shoulder up.  Now do it on the other side.  If you can touch your chin to your collarbone on both sides (without it hurting,) then you have full bilateral  cervical rotation.  If not, you could have issues with your spine, or you might just have tight muscles that need to be worked on.

If your mobility is limited in this test in any way, the first thing you can do is make sure you’re maintaining healthy posture as much as possible in your daily life.  You can check out the video below if you need some tips.  Otherwise, here are some exercises you can do to help out:

Stand up straight, place one hand flat across the small of your back, with the palm out.  Using the other hand, reach up and across the top of your head.  Gently pull the top of your head away from arm that’s behind your back, just enough to feel a stretch.  This will help stretch and loosen muscles on the side of your neck.  Another easy stretch you can do will be to stand up straight, turn your head to the side, and tilt your head to look up at the ceiling.

These stretches can help loosen and lengthen any tight muscles that could be inhibiting your motion.

That’s it for this week!  Drink lots of water and stay on top of your game!

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TPI Test #7: The Lat Test

This is part of a series on the eight tests that a TPI-certified golf fitness professional will perform to evaluate your body’s readiness for golf.  This week, we’re going to talk about the Lat test.

The latissimus dorsi muscle group forms a large, roughly triangular slab starting from the top of your buttocks and extending up under your shoulder blades.  When we talk about exercising our “core”, most people think of abs, but the lats are equally important to think about where core strength is concerned.  Your lats aren’t just important to core stability, they’re also part of your arm strength, since they are connected to your humerus (upper arm bone.)

Here’s how to perform this test:

  • Put yourself in a “wall-sit” position, with your knees bent almost–but not quite–at a 90 degree angle.  Make sure you’re not on a slippery floor and you have good traction.
  • Hold your hands straight out in front of you, with your thumbs pointing up toward the ceiling and your elbows completely straight.
  • Start raising your arms up slowly.  Raise them until one of these four things happens: your elbows bend; your lower back starts to arch off the wall; you feel pain or discomfort; your arms touch the wall above your head.

If you have a trainer performing the test with you, they will measure the angle where you have to stop raising, and based on that measurement, they can determine the level of mobility in your lats.  For a less scientific way of measuring, have a friend look at you from the side.  If your arms don’t reach up high enough to block your nose from view, you have less than 120 degrees range of motion.  If your arms just cover your nose, then you have 120 degrees of motion.  If your hands pass your nose but don’t make it to the wall, you have somewhere between 120 and 169 degrees range of motion.  If you made it all the way to the wall, then you have at least 170 degrees range of motion, which is the PGA tour average.

Here are some good exercises to increase mobility in this test:

Floor Slides:

  • Lay on your back, with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the floor.
  • Reach your arms straight out from your body, then bend your elbows up at a 90 degree angle, like you’re doing a “field goal” pose.
  • Slide your arms up and down ten to twelve times, keeping your lower arms parallel to your torso.

Child’s pose:

  • Kneel on the floor.
  • Lean all the way forward and reach your arms out in front of you on the floor.
  • Lift your hips up and put your head down.
  • This is a yoga pose called “child’s pose.”  You should feel the stretch in your shoulders and your lower back.

Exercise Ball Reach:

  • Get on your knees with an exercise ball in front of you.
  • Reach forward on to the exercise ball with your right hand.
  • Roll the ball out as you reach with your hand, resting your arm on top and reaching across the ball to the left, so that your right hand is reaching on a diagonal to the left.
  • Repeat on the other side, with your left hand reaching across to the right.

These simple stretches can increase the mobility and flexibility of your lats, and therefore increase the power of your swing.

If you know anyone who could benefit from this information, please share it using the buttons on the left!

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TPI Performance Test #6: Single-leg balance

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.

If you know anyone who could benefit from this information, please share it using the buttons on the left!

TPI Test #5: The 90/90 Test

This is part of a series of posts I’ve written about the simple tests a TPI pro can do with you to identify your golf strengths and weaknesses.  This test is designed to find any limitations in your shoulder mobility, and it’s call the 90/90.

Here’s how to do it:

Stand up straight, with your arm straight out to the side.  Now bend your elbow so that it makes a 90 degree angle with your palm facing forward.  Now, without flexing your back or moving any other part of your body, try to tilt your forearm and hand backward past the plane of your back.  Make sure your upper arm stays straight out beside you; don’t cheat by moving it back behind you.  Only tilt the forearm.    If you are able to do this, great!  You passed the first part of the test.  If this hurts, STOP!  The point is just to test where your mobility is right now.

Next, set your self up in a typical golf posture, knees slightly bent, upper body tilting forward from the hips.  Now try the test again.  Hold your arm straight out in an ‘L’ shape, and try to tilt your forearm back past the plane of your back.  Can you do that?  Great!  As always, stop immediately if it hurts.

The straight-up and down test checks the rotation of the gleno-humeral joint, and the golf posture test checks the stability of your scapulo-thoracic junction–just in case you’re curious.

If you can’t get your arm to tilt past the plane of your back, and especially if it’s a challenge just to hold it straight up in a line with your torso, you need corrective exercise.

Here are a few you can do:

Take your dominant hand and hold it in front of your face with the palm facing away.  Now take the other hand and bring it up with the palm facing toward you.  Hook your hands together and pull on them like you’re trying to pull them apart.  Pull as hard as possible while trying to squeeze your shoulder blades together.  Hold for three seconds, then move the arms side to side, continuing to try to pull them apart.  Keep pulling, and now make three big circles forward with your hands.  Now make three big circles backward with your hands (starting pulling toward your face, then down, then away at your chest, and so on.)  Now try to swim forward and backward three times with the elbows, like you’re trying to do the crawl stroke but your hands are tied.  Now repeat al these motions, but this time with your hands pushing toward each other instead of pulling.

Standing T’s and W’s:

With your thumbs up and your hands straight out to the side, pinch your shoulder blades together, feel this in your upper back.  Do that 16 times, and then do the same thing with your elbows slightly bent (like a “W”.)

These exercises should enhance your shoulder mobility and make you a better golfer.  There are some specific things I can look out for in the test itself so that I can give you exercises tailored to you, but these should help no matter what.

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