Put your best foot forward in 2024

Personal trainer and fitness columnist Shawn O’Neil on what you should be doing this winter to head into the 2024 season in the best possible position

We are well and truly in the heart of the winter season, but that doesn’t mean our golf should suffer.

With dark nights, cold weather and wet conditions on many courses, I’m sure many of you are playing a lot less than you’d like to at the moment.

But, as the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining and we can still look to improve ahead of the 2024 season. Now is a great time to make big changes and stick with them, as even when we do play, we’re not in the competitive playing window and our expectations are a lot lower.

The first step in my five-step winter programme is to take a lesson. Now is the time to identify and make big changes with your swing coach. Talk with your coach, whether you’ve worked together for a long time or you’re just starting out – ask all those what and why questions – and set a plan for what you’d like to achieve in your swing in the next 3-4 months.

Step two is also about preparation and that starts with getting physically assessed by a TPI-certified fitness specialist. In tandem with your swing plan from your coach, this will help identify areas to develop physically in order to accelerate your swing changes and prevent injury. For example, if your coach wants to see you create a deeper hip turn in the backswing, poor internal hip rotation can prevent this, so you need to do the physical work to allow this motion to happen.

Steps three and four focus on delivering change. First, commit to working consistently on the mobility and stability routines put in place following your TPI assessment. Second, commit to a structured programme of range time to hone the movements identified by your coach. Good planning in these two areas – particularly for those with busy lives outside of golf – is essential to deliver meaningful, and lasting, change.

The final step is about taking your game to the next level. Committing to swing and physical changes is most important, but if you can add the fifth step – implementing strength and power work – into your plan for the coming months, you’ll be heading into the 2024 season in the best possible position. As I’ve discussed previously, the performance gains from training in the right areas are well documented, while ensuring you prevent injuries will allow you to make the most of the prime golfing weather.

Having achieved these five steps, you’ll be able to revel in driving it past your playing partners and reducing your handicap when we get back out there in full in the spring.