Equipment manufacturers love to boast that their high-tech drivers add distance to your tee shots. And they're right. But you can also train your body to swing the club faster without losing control, regardless of your age.
"Aging takes away a lot of the good stuff like flexibility and muscle mass, but you can still make the most of whatever you have left," says Tom House, a former major-league pitching coach who is now an athletic-performance analyst for the University of Southern California. House is an expert on making athletes faster, and he says golfers can definitely swing harder after training the central nervous system to make their muscles react quicker.
However, you can "only swing the club as fast as you can slow it down," he says. "That's why you have to first improve your ability to decelerate." Just like when a breaker shuts down an overloaded electrical circuit, your brain tries to stop you from swinging so fast that you risk injury because you can't safely stop the driver. But if you can hit the breaks at faster speeds, your brain will let you swing harder. House says the key is training the muscles and tendons on the back of the legs and the shoulder girdle, especially the shoulder blades (scapulae).
House has designed a three-step program for Golf Digest readers who want to swing faster. First, train your body to decelerate the club despite higher swing speeds. Then improve your flexibility and coordination, so you can generate power with the swinging of the arms and the rotation of the body. The final step is to swing progressively heavier clubs to train the muscles of the hands and arms. At the same time, learn to use ground force to create more leverage. Read on.