Essential Golf: A passion for the Game

Improving Your Golf Game – Shoulder Stability Training Tips

Improving Your Golf Game - Shoulder Stability Training Tips

Improving mobility and stability in the hips, thoracic spine and shoulder is crucial to developing a consistent swing and lowering the risk of injury in golf. The shoulder exercises here are among the most important you can do to increase stability, strength and power in your swing. Properly sequencing these exercises will help you maximize your time in the gym and see immediate improvements on the course.

Anatomy Overview

The shoulder joint is a ball-and-socket joint, which gives it a tremendous amount of mobility. The head of the humerus (the long bone in the arm) is the ball of the shoulder, while the glenoid portion of the scapula (shoulder blade) makes up the socket. The rotator cuff muscles provide the majority of stability for the joint, which is why their function is crucial in any overhead or fast, powerful shoulder movements. It’s important to note that the scapula sits on the back of the upper ribcage and does not directly connect to any other bone in the body; the serratus muscles keep it close to the ribs. This is why any upper-body strengthening program should include strengthening the scapular stabilizer muscles, including the upper, middle and lower trapezius; rhomboids; Latissimus Dorsi and serratus anterior.

Follow the sequencing below to move through five different categories of exercise, all of which are key in improving your stability and your game.


Release. Release work should be done at the beginning of your session or on a recovery day and should take no more than 5 minutes. The goal is to decrease pain and stiffness, primarily in the chest, upper back and thoracic spine. Some examples include foam rolling between the shoulder blades or using a lacrosse ball to release the pectoral (chest) muscles.

Reset. Resets improve position and help you access your innate mobility. Release and Reset exercises decrease tone [CJ1] and improve your body’s ability to direct airflow into and out of restricted spaces.

  1. Quadruped Breathing with Reach
  2. Quadruped Plank with Reach
  3. Bear Crawl

Readiness. This is the time to activate the shoulder and upper body muscles. It’s an opportunity to blend individuality and creativity. Use these suggestions as a progression:

  1. Supine Arm Bar with Hip flexion (5 reps per side)
  2. Side Lying Open Books (5 reps per side)
  3. Supine Band PNF (5 reps per side)
  4. Push-up position to Downward Dog (6 reps per side)

Reactive. These exercises improve your shoulder’s ability to tolerate the forces that the golf swing demands, as well as your ability to maintain proper mechanics and posture over the course of 18 holes. Pick three exercises and perform them in a circuit of 2 to 3 rounds with a 60-second rest between rounds. Focus on moving quickly through high-quality reps with light weight, then progressively add small increases in weight as your technique improves.

  1. Half-kneel Medicine Ball Rotational Throw (5-8 reps, starting with 8-10lbs)
  2. Tall-kneel Medicine Ball Overhead Slams (8-10 reps, starting with 6-8lbs)
  3. Standing Bar Cable Chop or Keiser Push-Pull (5-8 reps)

Resistance. Target specific muscles and movement patterns with the biggest bang-for-your-buck exercises. Compounding movements with dumbbell, barbell/landmine and cables/machines can improve your game and longevity.

1. Single Arm DB Bench Press (2-3 sets of 6-8 reps)

2. Machine Lat Pulldown (2-3 sets of 6-8 reps)

3. Half-Kneel DB Overhead Press or Half-Kneel Landmine Press (2-3 sets of 6-8 reps)

4. Single Arm Seated Cable Row (2-3 sets of 6-8 reps)

Incorporate some of these exercises into your training program to improve posture, mobility, stability, strength and power in your shoulders.

Author Bio: Michael Welch, MS, CSCS, ATC, USAW-1, is an Exercise Physiologist on the Sports Rehabilitation and Performance Team at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS). He has designed and implemented strength and conditioning programs for professional athletes, weekend warriors, active adults and youth athletes across the entire sports medicine-sports performance spectrum.