Fitness: Stability is key for long drive champ Tim Burke

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Fitness: Stability is key for long drive champ Tim Burke

Instruction

Fitness: Stability is key for long drive champ Tim Burke

Two-time World Long Drive champion Tim Burke didn’t know there was such a thing as long drive championships when he was pitching for the University of Miami. He tried going deep for the first time on a whim a few years after college in 2011.

“Somebody convinced me to do it. I had no expectations and I realized I actually do hit it farther than all these other guys,” said Burke, who took second place at the World Championship in 2012. “I made 75 grand finishing second and I had no idea what I was doing.”

Burke had a full-time finance job when he won his first championship in 2013 with a 427-yard drive at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. His practice routine consisted of hitting balls in the morning, going to work and working out at night using fitness regimens he found on Google.

“After (winning the World Championship), I knew I had to step up to the next level,” Burke said.

Enter strength and conditioning specialist Trevor Anderson, who owns the Better Every Day Performance Institute in Orlando and has worked with dozens of pros from the PGA Tour and LPGA. Burke was introduced to Anderson through a mutual connection and, after a lunch meeting at Panera Bread, began training with Anderson the next morning.

Burke is an imposing figure at 6-foot-5, 240 pounds and had plenty of power when he started the new workouts. What he lacked was stability, which Anderson believes is the most important place for golfers at any level to start in order to gain more distance off the tee.

“You’ve never seen somebody shoot a cannon from a row boat, right?” Anderson said. “Because the foundation is not strong enough to support what they have to be able to do. Anybody that comes to me and says, ‘I want more distance,’ the very first thing regardless if they’re a world long drive champion or a junior golfer that wants to play better golf, it is about connecting to the ground with stability.”

Improving stability is something anyone can do with a few simple exercises from home or at the gym, and Burke said it’s essential to have the right attitude toward fitness and overall improvement.

“You have to (embrace it), especially if it’s part of your life and what you do for a living,” Burke said. “If you don’t find enjoyment in it at all, you’re not going to have success in my opinion.”

Jan 30, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Tim Burke trains at Better Every Day. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

THE PLANK

“A plank is not something that you just put your body into a position and get on your bows and toes and hold it for as long as you can,” Anderson said. “Being able to hold a nice, solid, firm, correct, 15-20 second plank and just take a little rest and do it again is absolutely the most effective way to do that. … The plank by nature should resist rotation and resist a side-to-side bending. If you’re doing those things in your plank and your plank is not correct, that’s why you’re able to hold it for more than a minute. If you do it correctly, it’s very challenging to hold it for more than 15-20 seconds without compensation.”

STEP 1: Lay down and place your forearms on the ground with your elbows directly underneath your shoulders.

STEP 2: Squeeze your quad muscles, which will extend your legs to straighten at the knee.

STEP 4: Spike your toes into the ground and squeeze your glutes as hard as you can.

STEP 5: Stay completely still and hold the position for 15-20 seconds. You should be stable enough so that you remain still if someone were to lightly push your sides.

STEP 6: Rest and repeat.

MEDICINE BALL THROW

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“The reason we do this is so we make sure we understand loading patterns,” Anderson said. “How to load into your backside properly and how to sequence into the front side and finish in full balance. The average person, I would say start out with a 4-pound medicine ball.”

Burke uses a 10-pound medicine ball, but even heavy lifters should start with something lighter that they can throw under total control.

STEP 1: Pick up the medicine ball and stand near a wall or an open area with enough space to throw it.

STEP 2: Hold the ball underhand at waist level and assume a golf stance, but with your feet touching.

STEP 3: Step out with your left leg and simultaneously move the ball to your right side in a loading position.

STEP 4: Using your left leg as a plant leg, bring the ball across your body while rotating and release it as your right foot leaves the ground, not trying to replicate the golf swing but finishing in a follow-through position.

STEP 5: Hold the position through the release and focus on remaining totally stable and balanced.

STEP 6: Repeat five times, then switch sides and throw the opposite way five times. Do three total sets of 10 throws each.

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