A lot more goes into golf than you may realize as you’re watching the professionals swing their clubs with ease on TV. In order to up your game on and off the course, balance and flexibility is a must. Past research has shown it can affect everything from your driving distance to your club head speed, as well as your overall technique. That’s something Tiffany Joh, a professional golfer currently playing on the LPGA Tour, knows all too well. Without working on them every day, she wouldn’t be nearly as successful in the sport.
“Having good balance helps you create more power doing less, and with any athletic motion, efficiency is super important,” she says. “Golf is one of those sports you can play forever if you maintain your flexibility and can avoid overuse injuries.”
Joh started golfing at the age of 12, a little late by LPGA standards, she says. “My dad was a professor at San Diego State University at the time and found a free junior golf program next to campus and would drop me off before he taught summer school. I think he just wanted to save money on babysitting,” she says. She quickly fell in love with the sport and went on to play college golf at the UCLA before turning pro, and she’s learned a lot along the way that’s gotten her to where she is today.
While constantly learning how to improve balance and flexibility is crucial as a golfer, it’s also important for anyone—pro athlete or not. Because your balance declines as you age, it’s something you always have to work on maintaining in order to stay injury-free over the years. And flexibility is also important—not only for injury prevention, but also because it improves your range of motion, gives you better posture, and keeps you mobile. Here’s how Joh works on her balance and flexibility every day, and how you can, too.
How to improve balance and flexibility, according to a pro golfer
You know it’s important to switch up your routine and give your body a break. Aside from golfing every day, Joh also incorporates surfing into the mix. “I don’t do a lot of structured balance work, but I surf almost every day when I’m home in San Diego,” she says. “For me, it helps me balance while having fun. And at the end of the day, if something isn’t fun, I won’t do it consistently.” You can do a fun activity that naturally boosts you balance too, like skateboarding, yoga, or slacklining. Or get a surfing-like workout from anywhere with a balance board ($129), no ocean needed.
2. Foam roll your back
A simple way Joh improves her flexibility is by using a foam roller ($18). “One thing I try to do every night is lay with my back on a foam roller going lengthwise down my spine and try to let the weight of my arms fall to the floor and stretch out my chest,” she says. Aside from loosening up your body, that stretch feels oh-so-good after a long day of sitting.
3. Roll up and down your spine
While a normal foam roller can do wonders on the back, Joh always has a twin-ball foam roller ($13) on hand, too. “Golf is super rotational, so I also like to take one of those peanut-shaped rollers (you can also just put two tennis balls in a sock) and roll up and down my spine, making sure the space between the balls is where my spine is,” she says. “This helps me loosen up those muscles on either side of my spine and keeps my T-spine loose so it can rotate.”
4. Do some yoga
Yoga is a biggie for Joh in keeping herself injury-free and in top-notch condition to take down the competition. “The golf swing puts a lot of torque on your lower back, and I’ve seen enough players on tour struggle with disc issues, so back health is always something on my mind,” she says. “I’ve found that doing 2 sets of 10 to 15 cobras in the morning and alternating those with 5 to 10 cat/cows really helps warm up my back and gets me ready to go play.”
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