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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Phil's Overload-Underload Training

Alright, it's time for the info I promised about the training technique Phil Mickelson used to increase his club head speed during the off-season.

The talk began during a media session before the Masters. Here's the primary quote, reprinted in GolfWeek:
"You have to retrain your muscles to swing it [the driver] faster, and you do that by overload-underload. So you take a 20 percent heavier driver and swing it as fast as you can, hit balls as hard as you can. Then you take a driver that's 20 percent lighter than a normal driver and swing that as hard as you can. Then you take a normal driver and swing that as hard as you can."
Phil was talking about a technique used by Tom House, a trainer who used to be a major-league baseball pitcher. Here are a couple of links to give you some more indepth info if you're interested:
Alright, here's the idea behind the technique. It's been used by Olympic athletes in various disciplines since the 1970s to improve performance. It's in the same vein as plyometric exercises, which are used to increase explosiveness.

As Phil said, you're working with three drivers -- a heavy driver that is 20% heavier than a normal one, a light driver that's 20% lighter than a normal one, and a normal driver. That 20% number is generally considered non-negotiable, although some workout programs will vary the weight by a greater percentage.

You make full-out efforts with the heavy driver (which builds strength), then full-out efforts with the light driver (which builds speed), then full-out efforts with the regular driver. You want to make each effort as perfect as possible, and Phil noted that you're actually hitting balls with the drivers, not just swinging them -- which makes sense, doesn't it? Faster swings won't help your game if you can't apply the club face accurately to the ball.

I suspect Phil just had Callaway custom-build some drivers for him, although there's a company called SuperSpeed Golf that makes weighted equipment and has included Phil's interview on their site. The equipment pictured in their site header don't appear to be actual drivers though.

Anyway, that's how Phil increased his club head speed. It looks like programs can turn out results in as little as 6 weeks -- if they're done correctly, that is. You can find all kinds of info about the technique just by typing "overload underload" into Google.