The effects of a six-week ballistic and plyometric training programme on female golfers’ drive performance and neuromuscular characteristics
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Golf-specific resistance training has become an additional method to increase drive distance and subsequent drive performance in recent years. However, the methods and subsequent benefits to such specific training modalities has thus far been isolated to male golfers. Female golfers may have differential outcomes from using identical golf-specific resistance training programmes to that of their male counterparts. To explore this unknown question in further detail, three separate investigations were undertaken within this thesis. Firstly, a systematic review was undertaken of the current literature pertaining to the effects of resistance training on golf drive performance and neuromuscular characteristics. Various types of resistance training protocols are reported within the golf literature with the intention to increase club head speed (CHS) to further drive distance. Researchers in the majority of these studies have recruited male golfers and have shown clear improvements in CHS. However, to date, no researchers have examined the effects of ballistic and plyometric training for female golfers. Secondly, ten skilled female golfers (HCP ≤ 10) were recruited to determine the reliability of an inertial measurement unit (IMU) to measure the rotational velocity of the lead wrist in the golf swing to use as an indicator for drive performance. Test-retest reliability was assessed over two separate occasions (separated by a minimum of six days). Based on the results, it was concluded that the use of an IMU on the lead wrist to assess rotational velocity during the golf swing is not a reliable measure (change in mean = -17.59%, coefficient of variation ˃ 10%, intraclass correlation = 0.92). Therefore, this novel method of measuring rotational velocity of the golf drive motion was not included in further studies for measuring drive performance. Lastly, two highly-skilled female golfers (HCP < 5) were recruited in a single-subject case design training intervention to assess the effectiveness of a six-week ballistic and plyometric training intervention on drive performance and neuromuscular characteristics. The drive performance and neuromuscular characteristics measures were taken on six occasions (i.e. weeks 0, 3, 6, 9,12 and 16) over a 16-week period (i.e. six-week pre-intervention [control], six-week intervention [experimental] and four-week post-intervention [non-training]). A six-week ballistic and plyometric training intervention elicited a substantial improvement in drive performance (i.e. CHS) in highly-skilled female golfers. The static side rotational throw reported the greatest improvement in all testing sessions compared to the dynamic side rotational throw. The countermovement jump showed the greatest improvement in peak power compared to the squat jump in all testing measures. Thus, the substantial improvements in upper- and lower-body power measures were transferred to golf performance as seen in the increase in CHS for both participants. Following a four-week post-intervention, there was a decrease in golf drive performance (i.e. CHS) and all upper-body power measures for both participants. However, there was also an increase in lower-body power (i.e. countermovement jump) following the four-week post-intervention for both participants. It is possible that the decrease in CHS may be due to the decrease in upper-body power measures.