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Grip Strength Pilot Study

Dr Tyler Standifird
Assistant Professor of Biomechanics at Utah Valley University

This study was conducted to look at the effectiveness of a golf specific grip training aid on both grip strength and swing speed in a group of amateur golfers. Grip strength has been shown to be highly correlated to swing speed and many amateur golfers have a deficit of grip strength when compared to averages of tour players. This is especially true for female golfers and older golfers. Sufficient grip strength helps players to control the club face more throughout the swing and is required for faster swing speeds to ensure that the club stays in contact with the hands during the swing.

The study consisted of 8 golfers. Three female golfers and five male golfers. The average age of the participants was 43 years old. Youngest in the study was 22 and the oldest was 85. Two of the participants were over the age of 70 years old and three were female to make sure to target populations of golfers who struggle with grip strength. The other three male golfers and all three female golfers were all participating in regular physical activity that included lifts that required grip strength, this was to measure the effect on those who are already participating in regular physical activity. 

Participants came to the lab and, after a brief warmup, went through baseline testing of grip strength and driver swing speed. Grip strength was tested on both lead and trail hands in a normal standing posture and also in golf posture using a handheld dynamometer. After grip strength was tested, golfers began hitting a mid iron at 50% capacity and gradually increased the intensity. After hitting 10 golf balls, they switched to drivers and followed a similar pattern of starting at sub max and moving to maximum intensity. Maximum driver swing speed was recorded when the player had two swings in a row that were slower in swing speed than the previous max. 

After baseline testing the participants went through the grip strength protocol. This consisted of three different exercises all while a large grip training aid was placed over their own mid iron club. The exercises were all done in golf posture, an isometric hold of 5 seconds on and off, a quick on and off in a series of 10 repeated squeezes, and a series of swings with the golf club increasing intensity throughout the 10 swings. The golfers repeated this set of exercises twice in one sitting with rest in between. They were instructed to do the exercise for 4 weeks and then they returned to the lab for the post measurements of grip strength and swing speed.

On average the golfers all gained grip strength in both hands and in both the normal and golf posture positions. Average increases were between 5 and 7% for both hands and both postures. Additionally swing speed increased on average by 2.0 mph from the pre to post training. 

This study shows the potential for golfers to gain both grip strength and swing speed as part of a golf specific grip strength training. 

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