Stay Relaxed and Supple to Maximize Distance

We’ve all seen photos of modern-day professional golfers with their rippling biceps and shoulders a linebacker would envy.

Every weekend, we watch them swing with maximum force to pound 320-yard drives (not to mention 200-yard 8-irons) and reduce monster par 5s to piece-o’-cake birdie holes.

It stands to reason, then, that muscling up on the driver and treating it like a battering ram is the key to hitting the ball prodigious distances, right? Wrong.

Even the strongest, most intense of pros know the dangers of tension. They may not look like it, but they’re relaxed when setting up to the ball. And despite their he-man physiques, they spend at least as much time working on flexibility as they do pumping iron.

The golfer with a supple body is able to turn the shoulders and hips easily back and through while maintaining good balance and posture. A daily stretching routine can do wonders for your swing (and your overall health).

Still, good flexibility is all but wasted if you tense up over the ball. Use these tips for relaxing before you start the backswing and you’ll get the most from your distance potential:

  • Keep grip pressure light: Tension begins in the hands. Nip it in the bud by holding the club with a force of only 4 or 5 on a scale of 1 to 10. Any firmer and your forearms will tighten, starting a chain reaction that inhibits free-flowing motion.
  • Let the arms hang: If you’re reaching for the ball, your arms will automatically tense up. Conversely, if the arms are too close to your body, your movement will be restricted. A proper setup finds the arms hanging naturally from the shoulders, with the upper body tension-free.
  • Take a few deep breaths: Deep breathing is a well-known relaxation technique, on or off the course. While it’s a critical tool for those nervous moments in golf—teeing off in front of a crowd or facing a long carry over water—deep breathing should be practiced before every shot. Read this tutorial to learn more: Proper Deep Breathing.

  • When you watch the pros, don’t get caught up in muscle envy. Flexibility and relaxation are more important if you want to max out your driving yardage.