How Phil Mickelson Gained 6 MPH By Optimizing How He Uses The Ground
The need for speed in competitive golf isn’t a new concept. The data trends on the PGA TOUR are clear, being fast pays and, therefore, being fast has become increasingly popular.
In 2009, 42 golfers on the PGA TOUR averaged more than 115 mph clubhead speed. In 2019, that number has nearly doubled with 81 golfers at 115 mph or above.
Amateur golfers may marvel at these audacious speeds from their couch, but assume those numbers are reserved for gym rats like Brooks Koepka or genetic freaks like Dustin Johnson.
Sure, Brooks and DJ are gifted athletes who dedicate time in the gym to becoming more capable power athletes, but the average golfer is likely nowhere near maximizing their own speed potential.
Take Phil Mickelson. At the age of 48, Phil is swinging the club faster than he ever has.
To be clear, Phil is a vastly underrated athlete with terrific hand-eye coordination. He has been diligent about training his body off the course and working with overspeed tools like SuperSpeed, but the biggest jump was the product of a key adjustment he made over the winter in how he was using the ground.
In a recent post on Instagram, Phil highlighted how he and his team were able to improve his speed by identifying an inefficiency in how he was pushing against the ground to generate speed.
“One of the things that I’ve done to pick up speed is to add my legs to [the swing]. I’d always been passive with my legs. One of the areas that TPI identified to pick up distance is to feel that push up and back.”
Ahead of Phil’s match with Tiger, he posted about one of his sessions with TPI.
View this post on Instagram
I said, “I will be ready for The Match,” and I will be! Thank you to Dave Phillips and Greg Rose from @mytpi for their knowledge and expertise. Tom House who has helped so many athletes prolong their careers. @SeanMCochran for keeping me healthy, strong, and injury free for the last 16 years. Andrew Getson for working with me to get my game back and for helping me win this year – the first time in 5 years. And, to my brother @timmick29 – for making my job fun and enjoyable. Thank you all, I appreciate it so much! @TigerWoods, you’re going to need your best next Friday. Just saying.
The session included some of the brightest minds in golf and sports science including TPI co-founders Dr. Greg Rose, Dave Phillips, throwing guru Tom House (coaches Tom Brady and Drew Brees), and his regular swing coach Andrew Getson.
It was the first time that Mickelson had used a BODITRAK and some of the insights that he and his team gathered.
How we use our lead leg is incredibly important in the golf swing, but there are two keys in particular that contributed to the jump in Phil’s CHS:
- Maximizing force with the lead leg on the downswing, specifically when the shaft of the club is perpendicular to the ground (lead arm parallel).
- Extension of the lead leg helps drive the the body away from the ball, amplifying the “sling shot effect” of the clubhead to the ball.
The second key is what Mickelson referred to when he said “pushing back and away.”
Check out World Long Drive Champ Justin James:
Notice how his hips move AWAY from the target line on the downswing?
Golfers who have “passive legs” like Mickelson described often allow their hips to drift closer to the target line. It’s commonly referred to as early extension, but may not be perceptible on video. By pushing more aggressively against the ground, Mickelson created a larger ground reaction force which, in turn, pushed more aggressively against his body, sending his center of mass away from the target line. By pushing his center of mass, “back and away”, Mickelson can create more of a whip with the clubhead.