A LEG UP ON HER COMPETITORS
Yani's quest to become #1
by Andrea Doddato
Three weeks ago Yani Tseng made history by becoming the youngest golfer, male or female to win three majors. It seems that this young woman is destined for success.
Yani approached me during the 2009 LPGA Corning Classic looking to add fitness back into her golf regimen. I came to realize the incredible talent of this 20-year-old golfer when she hoisted the tournament trophy that Sunday.
I had to do some research on who she was, her stats and golf accomplishments but what I learned outside of written word was how well rounded an athlete she was.
Outside of the ropes, she is practically pro level in billiards, dominates on the basketball court, and is pretty fierce with a tennis racket. It seems that everything comes easily for this Taiwanese golfer...including the English language. She explained, with a laugh, that she loves to talk a lot so she learned English faster than most of her fellow foreign golfers.
After dropping in the Rolex Rankings, Yani decided to make a few changes at the start of the 2010 season. She switched back to a swing coach she had worked with briefly years ago, Gary Gilchrist, and increased her presence within the gym.
In fitness we worked on gaining more strength in her core and lower body and increasing speed and rotational power from her torso and arms. When her body gets tired or weak she has a tendency to slide in her swing, so keeping her legs and hips strong enables her to stabilize her lower body better.
The hips are comprised of approximately 30 muscles. These muscles cross over the lumbar and abdominal region, pelvis and legs. When imbalances occur they can often lead to problems within the hips but also within in the knee joint or lower back. I like to incorporate a variety of exercises and training techniques to keep as much muscular symmetry to her lower body as possible.
In all of my years of training professional golfers I have never seen a female with so much upper body explosive power. I constantly make the joke with her that I have to protect my fingers and teeth when catching one of her medicine ball throws! Power like that can only be developed from a young age. She explained that her father taught her how to hit the ball as hard as she could and worry about where it went later. Quite often I witness parents teaching their children the "perfect looking" swing but forget that they must also learn to swing at it HARD. If power isn't developed by the time a golfer reaches their late teens it is very hard for them to fully reach their explosive potential. Although at times it can also come with a price, as in many golfers, Yani hasn't been without plaguing injuries. Reoccurring tricep tendinitis and patella pain has nagged her most of the season. But despite these obstacles she has managed to shine during two of the hardest tests in women's golf this year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the RICOH Women's British Open.
Here is a look at two of the exercises that shape this young player.
Step up with Medicine Ball Rotation
(works strength, stability, flexibility and rotation)
Use a high step or bench, place left foot (heel included) on the bench. Step up without placing the right foot down on the bench, raise leg to 90 degrees. Swing right leg across body while rotating the medicine ball in the opposite direction. Step back down with right leg, keeping left foot on the bench. Repeat 10 times then switch legs and rotational direction.
Reach and Touch
(works stability and flexibility)
Begin by placing objects on the floor in a half circular position (a tile floor works just as well). Stand on one leg, bend from the hips, not your back, and reach your opposite hand to the first intended object. Stand directly back up and repeat to the next object. Continue around the half circle and back again in the opposite direction. Perform 5 semi-circular reps (increasing over time to 10) then switch standing leg and arm.
Andrea Doddato is a golf fitness professional that works with many LPGA players. She writes for several golf publications and has been seen on ESPN and The Golf Channel. She can be contacted through www.shapeandsport.com.