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Breakthrough Interview with Coach Leonard: Things I wish I had known in the earlier days of golfing.

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Like many golfers, Coach Leonard had always thought that he just needed to have better swing or better gears to golf better.

Not until he discovered the power of strength training when he started to look into what other pros were doing that he wasn’t.

If you’re a golfer who’s either starting out or seasoned, this episode of Breakthrough Interview with Coach Leonard of Move will allow you to get a thorough understanding of why strength training can help change the game even if you make no changes to your swing or gear right now.

 

Coach Leonard, first of all, what got you to pursue a career as a coach which specializes in golf strength and conditioning?

It was after years of gradually realizing how much strength and conditioning work at the gym had helped me grow as a golfer while being injury resilient at the same time.

Then I started to help a few friends of mine as a side interest after work (well I was actually a lawyer then).

Eventually, I thought, you know what… that was the part (coaching) I looked forward to the most even before my day started!

I asked myself “why must I need to wait after work to only start doing what I enjoy the most?” Then I took the leap of faith, called up my old friend at Move, then the rest was history.

 

For those who aren’t familiar with golf strength and conditioning, could you share with us what it is, why they need it and how it works?

In a game of golf, precision is the name of the game.

And in order to achieve a consistent precision throughout the day on the course, you need to optimize your stability, mobility, power, endurance and more. That’s when golf strength and conditioning comes into play and it usually involves gym work such as resistance training.

Most successful golfers out there such as Tiger Woods sees strength and conditioning work as an integral part to their success and ability to sustain a career that spans across decades. His work at the gym has paid off big time due to his ability to effectively leverage ground forces which translates into powerful swings.

Strength training moves like squat and deadlift are usually the go to. Simple to execute but not easy to. That’s when personal trainers like me who specializes in golf strength conditioning comes in to help.

 

But… why are there so many golfers still not doing strength and conditioning work?

Unfortunately, the emphasis in the game of golf has always been going into the technicalities. With all sorts of technologies being deployed for swing analysis which are all within reach by golfers in major cities, it’s hard not to get carried away.

But techniques performed on a non solid physical foundation will only mean that compensations will take place. Maybe that’s why it shows up in your techniques… and more time spent on techniques once again?

Treat the root cause not the symptoms. 

 

Are there any misconceptions when it comes to the effect of strength training on golf performance?

Typically, strength training has always been deemed as something that will reduce mobility due to its muscle “tightening” effect and muscle mass increase which will “get in the way” of a full range of motion and hence will hinder a golfer’s potential to swing efficiently.

There is some truth to this especially when it is not done correctly via a well thought out strength program.

In actual fact, size and strength aren’t always correlated and therefore it is possible to build strength without building bulk.

Additionally, a well curated strength training program can in fact improve your flexibility and mobility.

Take movements like squat and deadlift for example. You will actually need decent flexibility and mobility to perform a well executed repetition!

Therefore many times when golfers come to me, we will actually spend quite some time to perfect these moves just because poor flexibility and mobility were in the way and the moment we fixed this issue, I can almost guarantee that they will start moving more fluid!

 

So the question many will ask is, there are so many elite level personal trainers out there who can also coach golfers in doing strength and conditioning work, but what makes you different?

The game of golf looks very simple. Swing the club, walk to the ball and repeat.

But the nitty gritty of things and challenges players face externally and internally are not easy to grasp by non competing golfers and it’s even tougher for trainers who are clueless about the sports.

Whereas for me, I’m someone who has represented the state for multiple years, played in tournaments and notably finished in top 3 positions alongside local heroes such as Gavin Green and others. And to take things further, I’ve decided to put my unique approach to golf with the science of strength and conditioning by turning professional and competing at the highest level in the near future.

 

What are the emphasis you place on when you work with golfers at the studio?

First of all, since golf is a one sided sport, my duty is to mitigate the imbalances in the musculature of the body. This is especially powerful for golfers who experience aches and pain in their back.

The moment imbalances issue is mitigated, they can start playing better without having to make changes to their techniques.

 

Secondly, mobility is also something huge I look closely into.

Our human body is made up of 206 bones and there are joints where bones meet which then allow movements to occur.

Now, some joints require more stability over mobility whereas others are the reverse.

The problem comes when joints that are supposed to be mobile, let’s say hip joints, become restricted. So now the body is forced to look for mobility from the adjacent joint which is often a stability based joint, let’s say the lumbar spine, that’s when back pain can potentially take place.

The problem is, people tend to fix the symptom, not the root cause. Most of the time if a golfer suffers from back pain, it’s easy to assume that the technique or the gear is the culprit. Or even perhaps the back needs to be operated on!

Thirdly, I will put emphasis on helping my clients develop better movement awareness by breaking down different phases of a golf swing and reinforce it with movement specific resistance training.

 

What’s your vision in what you do?

My vision is to create a better playing golfing community where more golfers become more equipped with a solid foundation which ecompasses fitness components like strength, mobility and stability.

Throughout the process, I wish to play a part where no one has to get sidelined due to preventable injuries.

Ultimately, my effort should result in a ripple effect which will help raise the standards of golf in Malaysia and hopefully more local heroes will get to compete internationally and make us Malaysians proud!

Authored by:

Leonard

Trainer

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