5: Seated golfers
Identify the mobility device which the golfer will play from:
Para-Motion – acts as a mobility device but also elevates the player into a golf-specific posture – these devices have many benefits for players with spinal cord lesion (SCL) – although due to high costs these may not be an option to introduce somebody to the game.
Adapted mobility device – seat can be rotated to play from a seated position – many everyday mobility devices can be easily modified to accommodate an effective seated playing position for golf.
Standard wheelchair – often used to get new players to sample the game and possibly the key consideration for coaches as more expensive specialised devices will be explored once the new golfer reaches the participant level. A wheelchair can provide a good starting point and will require some adaptation and securing with straps for full swing application from the coach, to identify the optimal positioning for the individual.
The following key considerations highlight the approach required to initiate a new participant playing from their standard wheelchair;
- No two athletes are the same having differing physiques, strength, balance, physical or learning ability.
- Due to mobility – initial sessions from the standard wheelchair will take place on the driving range.
- Ensure your facility/coaching environment will provide access for wheelchair users.
- Generally, the first step when working with seated golfers is to establish the seating/body position that works best with the athlete’s functional abilities.
- Every seated golfer will develop a unique style regardless of ability and what works with one seated golfer may not work with another similar functioning player. Be prepared to adapt and create challenges to make the sessions explorative and player led.
- An effective coach will experiment to find out what works best for each individual seated golfer. As a basic rule, when working with disabled athletes, more time is needed for skills to be practised, developed and achieved to maximum ability.
- Experiment with different positions – setting the chair into ‘open rotation’ and get players to experiment with one hand can help with generating speed – Decrease targets and distances to make things easier and achievable.
- Have adapted equipment available clubs of different lengths, weights, sizes, handle sizes and lie angles can really accelerate the learning and self exploration of a seated player.
- The same golf specific drills as for a non-disabled golfer will be relevant within the functional boundaries of the individual golfer.
- Learn to communicate and demonstrate golf shots from a seated position. This will also develop your understanding of the potential constraints a seated golfer may poses.
- As seated golfers play from a seated position, drills involving the upper body and arms will be the most prominent. However, a holistic approach to training is encouraged, and drills and movements involving leg and hip function should be included for those golfers that have this available function.
- Only a very small percentage of wheelchair users cannot mobilise without their wheelchair. Help your participant to make their own choices of if/when they want to use it. Do not assume.
- When talking to a wheelchair user, do so from a position that is comfortable for both of you – sitting on a chair at the same eye level as the other person is often the simplest way.
- Talking to the participant can identify if they would benefit from additional strapping (readily available from mobility specialists) which can enhance balance and improve mobility and assist in developing clubhead speed and solid contact. Below is a small list of strapping which may assist in your sessions:
- Chest & waist straps: These can improve balance and often confidence but can hinder reaching and rotational movement, if not properly adjusted. Wrist straps may assist the individual to develop speed and can be very useful if the player is playing with one arm.
- Leg straps: A strap around the thighs or just above the knees prevents the legs from spreading and keeps the body moving as a unit. A strap in front of the knees or shins keeps the legs back and can assist in maintaining sufficient forward bend if required to secure consistent contact.
- Foot straps: These will keep the feet securely on the footpad when turning, or during leg spasms.