"I need to get more flexible hips"
"I need to get more flexible shoulders"
"The biggest limiting factor for golfers is flexibility"
Mobility vs. Flexibility
Everybody has slightly different definitions of these two items.
I view flexibility as more of a passive mobility - or the ability to get moved into a certain range of motion either via a practitioner/coach or by gravity.
As compared to mobility which I view as more active. You are actively trying to move a joint through a certain range of motion.
Something like a SPLIT SQUAT LATERAL FLEXION, while gravity is passively pulling you down into a range of motion, it requires immense spinal control and eccentric force production.
So there's a grey area between the two, but in general:
Flexibility = Passive
Mobility = Active
Like I said, others may differ in the way they view these two things - this is just how I'm looking at them.
Flexibility isn't THAT important for golfers.
Point #1: Mobility > Flexibility
The ability to actively access and control ranges of motion is WAY more important to me than being passively placed into positions.
We need to be able to produce FORCE in large ranges of motion.
We need to be able to CONTROL large ranges of motion.
I don't care if your coach can move your shoulder through the necessary range of motion... I care that YOU can.
And some may say "but you need the passive range before you can actively move into it"
Or, this is just an excuse for being too lazy to actively push the boundaries of your movement.
Point #2: Strength, Power, and Speed > Mobility
The second major point as to why I believe flexibility (and mobility for that matter) isn't that important is that they are both improved EQUALLY or MORE EFFECTIVELY through strength training.
Appropriate strength, power, and speed training will improve your mobility more than any simple static stretching program alone.
Plus, it'll make you stronger, faster, and more functional.
You'll become a better athlete - not just a better stretcher.
Obviously a mix both of both, strength and flexibility training, is probably MOST IDEAL - but if we are prioritizing one, it should be strength training nearly every time.
Point #3: You're fragilizing golfers
By placing flexibility as your first, most important physical quality, for golfers, you are fragilizing them.
Would you tell a baseball player the same?
Or a quarterback?
Or a soccer player?
So why are you telling a golfer to prioritize flexibility?
You are indirectly saying they're bodies aren't equipped for strength training, power training, and speed training.
Treat them like any other athlete.
Progressively increase the stressors you are applying to their bodies.
Progressively expose them to faster speeds, greater power outputs, and more complex expressions of their athleticism.
Anti-fragile athletes, capable of ADAPTING.
Not glass that we need to wrap in bubble wrap.
Here's the take home point.
I'm NOT saying we should remove all mobility and flexibility exercises from our toolbox (I mean, we offer a 3 week mobility challenge here at SCRATCH and every program has it's assortment of mobility training.)
I AM saying we need to stop putting it on a pedestal.
We NEED to stop saying that EVERYONE is limited by flexibility.
We NEED to stop using bs mobility screening tools that don't matter.
Instead, we NEED to start pushing strength training, power training, and speed training.
We NEED to start treating golfers like the athletes they are.
Anti-fragile and capable of adapting.
And when you are sick of your "flexibility" training getting you absolutely nowhere, join SCRATCH - Where you'll train like the athlete you are.
Founder and Head Coach - SCRATCHGolfTraining.com
Carter is a strength and conditioning coach out of the Milwaukee area working with athletes, in-person and virtually. Having helped hundreds of athletes, ranging from the middle school to the professional level and beyond, Carter brings a breadth of experience and knowledge to every athlete he works with. He launched SCRATCHGolfTraining.com in the summer of 2021 to help empower golfers to greater performance and longevity.
Carter believes ALL golfers are athletes, and they should be training accordingly.
Become a SCRATCH Athlete today, and start training like the ATHLETE you are!