Isolation Motivation: Padraig Harrington’s top tips for staying ‘golf fit’ at home

By | April 23, 2020

So your favourite golf course has been padlocked, the driving range is a no-go zone and no amount of rolling will turn your back garden into a putting green.

Don’t worry, the very best of help is at hand.

Three-time major winner Pádraig Harrington has given Fitter Happier an exclusive insight into his very own Isolation Motivation.

The coronavirus shutdown is giving him a chance to work on aspects of his fitness and game that he might otherwise have to ignore in the middle of a busy season.

With training sessions and routines overseen by Liam Hennessy, a physiologist at Setanta College, and monitored by Galway-based sports science company Orreco, the 48-year-old is making the most of his time away from the course.


Read on for Pádraig’s guide to beating the lockdown blues.

Padraig Harrington competing in the 2019 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open


“I suffer with a bit of a bad lower back and a tight neck, so I can give those areas more attention now,” he said.


“For me, personally, I hate stretching. But I have to do it first thing in the morning when I get out of bed and the last thing before bed.

“It has to be a routine for me, because I always want to do something else at other stages of the day.

“So, when I get up in the morning I could spend anywhere from 10 minutes to 25 minutes stretching.

“Then, before I go to bed at night, I’ll do 10 more minutes, hitting the areas again that need to be done.

“The stretches I do at that stage are basic enough. I have a neck stretcher because I have a bad neck.

“But I essentially do what most other people do. I’ll lie on my back and do basic back stretches – a lot of rotational stretches to get some movement going.

“I’m lying on my back, going back and forth across with my knees. I’m going internally then with my knees.


“I do a lot of rotational stretches, starting with back and forth, then torso back and forth lying on the ground.

“Then I would go into a bridge and get my glutes fired up.

“I do some static stretching, like hamstring stretches. Then I’ll do upward-dog and downward-dog.

“When I’ve had injuries and you are trying to rehab from an injury, you will never sit down and do half-an-hour rehab. You just won’t do it.

“So, you’ve got to break it down into the important ones and just hit them every time you can.

“You could do something, say, every time you are standing in a line queueing, every time the ads come on the telly, while you are waiting on the kettle to boil.

“Keep hitting them so they become routine.


“It’s harder, believe it or not, to do your exercises when you have time.

“When you are forced into a routine, when I am playing golf, there is a set time for everything.

“Before I go to the range, I have 25 minutes of dynamic motions – forward lunges, backward lunges and squats, with no weights, just the movement.”

Padraig Harrington demonstrates his at-home swing routine


“This period is not the time to change your body,” said Pádraig.

“You don’t want to lose weight or gain weight. You don’t want to gain muscle or lose muscle.

“If you stress your body too much, you are lowering your immune system. And you certainly wouldn’t want to do that right now.

“It should be all about maintenance, so I’d recommend a lot of stretching, yoga, breathing, Pilates.

“The Tom House shoulder routine (check out YouTube) can be done with no weights. He has a leg routine too.

“You don’t want to be putting your immune system under any pressure at the moment, so the idea of losing weight or gaining muscle is not a good thing.


“I work with a company called Orrecco – they work with the NBA, American sports, they are an Irish company out of Galway.

“We’ve done conference calls and they are worried about their athletes pushing themselves.

“This is not the time to change your body or push yourself to extremes.

“If you stress your body to that level, it weakens the immune system over a period of time.”

Check out Padraig on social media for video tutorials


“As regards physically building up the golf swing, I have done a few videos (on Twitter),” Pádraig explained.

“The closest thing to swinging a golf club is throwing a ball. Throwing one – not a golf-ball, a sliotar would be an ideal weight – underarm works really well.

“It mimics every move you would make with a golf swing.

“Start off slow, because you don’t want to tear something in your shoulder.

“That builds up the golfing motion. The throwing drill is really as good as it gets (see photos & check out @padraig_h for technique).


“Then for actual training, if you have the room to swing a golf club, there are two ways of playing golf indoors.

“Get an old mat – not your good carpet, because you don’t want to take a divot out of that – and hang up a heavy rug or blanket, and hit golf balls into it.

“Now, go close to it, because you will hit a crooked shot at some stage or other and the ball could go flying around the room.

“But it can be done. Hang a rug and hit shots into it. 

“The other way is to make a makeshift impact bag. They sell these things online, but you don’t need to buy them online.

“Just get an old leather bag and fill it with towels – not too heavy and not too light – and swing into the bag.

“The reason I say a leather bag is because you want a heavy sound when you hit it; you get great feedback from that.


“Especially with kids, kids would love whacking a bag! It really goes bang and the louder the bang the better.

“You don’t want to hurt yourself, so don’t make it a heavy bag. Start off with a light bag and swing away into it.

“And don’t hit the zip, because you’ll break it. That’s why I say to use an old leather bag. That can be your makeshift impact bag.

“Those are a couple of ways of hitting shots indoors when you don’t have a net.”

Practice like Padraig and you’ll be in top shape when the courses reopen


“Read a few books on the game,” is Pádraig’s advice.

“There is no doubt that if you are really keen on golf, any of the Bob Rotella books – I like the original one, ‘Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect’ – will do.

“If you are a kid, a young teenager and you are interested in the game of golf, you probably should read ‘The Golfing Mindset’, which explains more how to practice rather than what to practice.

“Bob Rotella tells you what to do, and you just do it. But this is more about the big thing in sport at the moment, the marginal gains, how you train in chaos.

“They are all the buzz words!


“If you really want to understand what is actually happening in your mind, because it gives nice analogies, get ‘The Chimp Paradox’ by Steve Peters.

“There are a few books that people can delve into.

“The greatest thing about ‘The Chimp Paradox’, even if you are not interested in sports psychology, is after you’ve read it, it makes for tremendous dinner-table chat.

“People will think you are absolutely nuts!”

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