Every golfer knows that balance is important for a good golf swing. However, I was prompted to write this article after seeing various YouTube videos and other blog posts mentioning how great unstable surfaces are for improving balance for golf performance. I would like to say that I am not against the use of unstable surface training, only for the things mentioned in this post. I am also not going to mention any videos or posts in particular but they are easy enough to find!
Balance is the ability to stay in control. It requires you to keep your centre of gravity within your base of support and is essential during the golf swing. Being ‘off balance’ during the swing, at any point, will negatively affect the quality of strike. Furthermore, if you are unbalanced during the golf swing, it is more difficult to generate club head speed!
Bosu Balls, Swiss Balls, Balance Discs are all great training aids. However, when it comes to balance training for golf, these are not implements you want to be standing on, let alone swinging a golf club on.
Standing on a Swiss Ball is dangerous to say the least and I would not recommend it. Swinging a golf club whilst standing on a Swiss ball would be even worse! And when playing golf, you are always on a stable surface. Therefore, IT’S NOT FUNCTIONAL!
Standing on an unstable surface can train the ankle for stability. This might be important in a rehab setting, sometimes, however, we usually want more mobility at the ankle (see Joint by Joint Approach to Golf HERE).
If the ankle lacks mobility (tested in the Overhead Squat or ankle dorsiflexion test), it can cause swing faults such as early extension and loss of posture. Additionally, this can also lead to reduced power, club head speed and an inconsistent golf swing. Furthermore, if the ankle lacks the required mobility it could lead to compensations at the knee and cause knee pain or injury.
Along the same lines as compensations, unstable surfaces could alter proprioception. Proprioception, being the awareness of your body in space, is important for good balance and a good golf swing. As proprioception is important is golf, training appropriate movement patterns (for example, using a stable base of support) is essential.
For example, the more you swing a golf club a certain way, the better you get at doing it. If you train on unstable surfaces you will teach your body to make compensations. You will probably improve your balance, however, it would have a negative effect on the golf swing.
Unstable surfaces can alter biomechanics of the golf swing. Especially when swinging a golf club whilst standing on an unstable surface. Standing on an unstable surface can cause the lower body to become too stable and during the downswing, it is likely that the arms take over. Not to mention the inability to transfer weight correctly and generate any power!