"Assess don't guess."
Is a very common tag line by golf professionals.
And, I don't like it.
Let's dive in.
What is a Physical Assessment?
A physical assessment is a routine of exercises and movements that a practitioner will put you through, and write down your results - results practitioners say are objective, but are often far from it.
They will then compare those results to subjective standards to see whether you pass or, the dreaded, FAIL.
If you can sense from my tone, I don't agree with the way physical assessments are utilized in the golf training world... But more on that later.
A good physical assessment should help guide our training program and expose our movement abilities.
They are descriptive, not predictive.
For example, if you try the Hip Rotation Test, shown below, and suck at it... we probably should explore some hip mobility in our training.
It's not rocket science.
MY ISSUE WITH ASSESSMENTS...
Two central ones:
[1.] The way they are put into use by many practitioners.
[2.] The way they become KPIs and goals.
Not Predictive, Descriptive
I have seen so many practitioners misuse assessments.
And, I have to first admit, I have made this mistake in my past...
Practitioners will say things such as:
"If you fail the pelvic tilt test, you are going to lose posture in your swing, have a poor impact position, and develop back pain."
"If you can't do the overhead squat test, YOU WILL EARLY EXTEND!"
"Your right side hip mobility is only 55 degrees, as opposed to 60. Your hip tightness is limiting you golf swing!"
These are all blatant lies, or, to use their lingo, straight up guesses!
There is quite literally no causation between your results on these isolated assessments and your skill on the golf course.
They are totally different skills and aren't nearly as related as practitioners try to make you believe they are.
The completion of an overhead squat is a skill.
The golf swing is a skill.
The hip mobility test is, in part, a skill.
More importantly, they are all ISOLATED and SEPERATE skills.
Let me ask you a question... Is the best powerlifter in the world, also the best golfer?
Not even close...
Because a squat is a completely different skill than a golf swing.
But yet, many will use an overhead squat test as a measure of how "healthy" and "efficient" your golf swing is.
These aren't related in any way...
So, to circle back to the my first issue with the way physical assessments are utilized in the golf training world, practitioners simply misuse them.
They add subjective narratives and draw unfair comparisons to your golf game in order to provoke an emotional response.
They treat them as predictive indicators of future success or failure on the golf course.
Which they aren't.
Don't fall for it.
Secondly, what are our KPIs in training?
KPI, or key performance indicator, is something that we can objectively see improving our game.
In my opinion, the only KPI that truly matters is your performance on the course.
That's it. End of story.
The moment that we start introducing KPIs like physical assessments (that are in NO WAY related to your golf game) we risk losing our purpose for training.
I don't care much at all if you can successfully complete a t-spine rotation test.
I do care that you are swinging a golf club pain-free and avoiding the all-too-common low back pain.
I don't care if you can complete an overhead squat. It's a hard exercise and I am guessing 80% of tour pros would "fail" it.
I do care that you are moving better, feeling better, fatiguing less, swinging more freely, and shooting lower scores.
These are the micro-KPIs that matter.
These are the micro-KPIs that are indicative of the macro-KPI being performance on the golf course.
Don't lose sight of them by worrying about these physical assessments that mean nothing... No matter how much your practitioner tries to swing them as the answer to all of your problems.
What should an assessment do?
An assessment should look at your physical abilities and seek to describe them.
Not subjective narratives.
Not relating every assessment to your golf swing.
Assessments should simply expose an individual, providing some information to a practitioner which they can use.
They showcase one unique, independent skill or motor constraint.
Nothing more, nothing less.
If a practitioner tries to sell you on the "this test clearly is the reason you slice the golf ball."
Tell them to cut the bs.
Your movement and golf swing is way more complex than simple solutions like that.
SHOULD YOU GET ONE?
If you want one, go for it.
But don't let the practitioner fool you into thinking it is some magical solution to all of your problems, or the measure of ideal athleticism.
Learn from it.
Don't overthink the results.
Don't link it to your golf swing.
Always remember the bigger goal and priority of training... PERFORMANCE ON THE COURSE!
MY FINAL MESSAGE TO PRACTICIONERS AND COACHES...
No more future subjective narratives.
No more false correlations to the golf swing.
No more "assess don't guess" when you are quite literally guessing...
Let's go low!
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