7: Golfers with a neurological condition – cerebral palsy (CP)

7: Golfers with a neurological condition – Cerebral Palsy (CP)

Chris Biggins (USA) – Cerebral Palsy
  • The important factor is that no two CP players are the same, so the golf coach will have to consider the individual’s physique, mobility and application. Speak to the participant to understand their own personal abilities, experiences and expectations.
  • For some golfers with cerebral palsy, outdoor temperature could be a limiting factor to an effective training session during winter months.
  • Constant and continual repetition and reinforcement can reduce coordination problems.
  • Again offer regular recovery breaks within the training session.
  • Participants may have a slower reaction time when initiating movement on command.
  • The participant may have limb movement restrictions. Therefore, they must work at their maximum capacity to enable optimum performance. The participant must be supported to move any affected limb to the best of their ability.
  • The participant may have short-term memory loss, requiring constant and continual reinforcement of instructions. Be active with demonstration and regularly question to check for understanding.
  • Circulatory problems may mean additional stretching and flexibility exercises, and/or shorter drill times are required.
  • Be aware of any balance problems and take these into consideration with any relevant golf specific coaching drills or game play.
  • New players with more complex balance difficulties can be supported via a standard walking frame – underneath their buttocks which will assist in developing golf posture and offer an alternative to playing from a seated position.
  • Be aware of how balance (static & dynamic) may affect body positions and subsequent impact criteria within swing motions – such as; – forward bend – side bend – torso slide & sway – arm/knee flexion & extension.
William Hennesy (UK) – Cerebral Palsy


While there are many types of motor control problems, the golf swing can generally be affected by ataxia, athetosis and spasticity.

Ataxia: Difficulty with balance, trunk control, rapid and fine movements – a wide-based gait is sometimes used to compensate for this.

Athetosis: This results in involuntary writhing movements, which are uncontrollable, irregular and jerky. Often, these movements increase with emotion and stress.

Spasticity: Cerebral spasticity is a state of increased muscle tone with increased reflexes.

This may fluctuate depending on various conditions, including posture, positioning, stress and temperature.

Monoplegia: Relating to one limb only.

Diplegia: More related to the lower limbs than upper limbs.

Hemiplegia: Relating to the upper and lower limb, and trunk on the same side.

Triplegia: Relating to three limbs (sometimes referred to as asymmetric quadriplegia).

Quadriplegia: Relating to the whole body (ie. head, neck, trunk and all four limbs).