The Overhead Deep Squat Test


Test Objective for Overhead Deep Squat Test:

The Overhead Deep Squat Test is one of the most informative tests you can perform on a golfer.  The deep squat portion of this test is used to assess bilateral, symmetrical, mobility of the hips, knees, and ankles.  When you combine the dowel held overhead this test also assesses bilateral, symmetrical mobility of the shoulders as well as the thoracic spine. Therefore, the ability to perform this test requires closed-kinetic chain dorsi-flexion of the ankles, flexion of the knees and hips, extension of the thoracic spine, as well as flexion and abduction of the shoulders.

Through research here at the Titleist Performance Institute we have found several correlations between this test and the golf swing.  First of all, if a golfer is unable to perform a full deep squat with their heels on the ground, then it is almost impossible for them to maintain their posture during the downswing.  We usually see the golfer thrust their lower body towards the golf ball and raise their torso up during the downswing (early extension).  This is usually due to either tightness in their calf muscles and/or lack of pelvic stability due to weakness in their core.

Secondly, we see a strong correlation between players standing up out of their posture during the backswing (loss of posture/flat shoulder plane), when a golfer can't squat with the club over their head.  This is usually due to limitations in mobility of their lat muscles and thoracic spine.

How to Perform the Overhead Deep Squat Test:

To perform this test, begin by standing with feet shoulder width apart and toes pointing forward. Next grasp a club approximately shoulder width apart and extend the arms directly overhead, keeping the shaft in-line with your head and over your foot print. Next, simply squat down as far as you can go, while keeping the club as high above your head as possible. The test will stop if any of the following conditions are seen or felt; 1) pain or discomfort, 2) heels coming off the ground, 3) club falling forward towards the ground, 4) loss of balance.

This test has a series of checkpoints that need to be assessed to get a true understanding of the results. The following characteristics are being tested; calf flexibility, thoracic extension, core stability, pelvic mobility, quadriceps flexibility, and shoulder mobility. These checkpoints will be discussed in the following section

What to look for in the Overhead Deep Squat Test:

In this test we will be looking for the above mentioned faults utilizing a deep squat maneuver. When the deep squat is performed and the client presents with any pain or discomfort we will immediately stop the test and inquire as to where the pain was felt. This is a very clear sign that something is wrong in one of the above mentioned regions.

There are six possible outcomes to this Overhead Deep Squat Test:

1) Complete Full Deep Squat:

To be considered a complete full deep squat you must see the following at the bottom of the squat:
i. Upper torso is parallel with tibia or towards vertical
ii. Femur is below horizontal
iii. Knees are aligned over feet
iv. Feet are pointing forward (not flared out)
v. Dowel is aligned over feet

2) Arms Crossed Full Deep Squat:

If the client performs the deep squat test and struggles in anyway, we need to examine a bit further into the movement. At this point we will ask them to repeat the test, however this time we will remove the golf club above their head and ask them to simply cross their arms over their chest and shoulders and then perform the deep squat test. If by doing this, the test yields a full deep squat, then we will select the “Arms Crossed Full Deep Squat” box.  This tells us that thoracic extension and shoulder mobility are most likely the issues we are dealing with.

3) Arms Crossed Limited Deep Squat:

If the client is asked to perform the squat without the club overhead, and they still can’t seem to go fully into a squat, then we would select the “Arms Crossed Limited” box.  This tells us that further examination is needed to understand what the major limiting factor in this test might be – either core instability or ankle mobility.

4) Right or Left Calf Limited:

Oftentimes a client will present with one or both heels lifting off the ground prior to obtaining the full deep squat. This can indicate a mobility issue with the calf and ankle. We will usually rule this out by performing a half-kneeling calf flexibility test. Having the client kneel on one knee with the other foot out in front, simply lean forward on the forward foot as far as you can go without that heel coming off the ground. We are looking to see whether or not the knee can move forward out past the toe. If the knee cannot move past the toes, then there is a significant calf/ankle mobility issue. Repeat on the other side as their can are bilateral differences.

5) Bilateral Calf Limitation:

This describes the client that has limitations in both ankles – they can’t get their knee past their toes on either leg.

6) Good Dorsiflexion Bilateral w/ Arms Crossed Limited Deep Squat:

If the client possesses good calf flexibility and ankle dorsiflexion bilaterally but still cannot perform the “Full Overhead” or even the “Arms Crossed Full Squat”, then we are going to be looking at the core as the main issue. Usually this will show the examiner that there is insufficient core coordination or stabilization to perform this test.
7) Unilateral Loading on during the squat:

If the client tends to favor one side during the squat please note this as well.  This can help us determine which side of the body there may be a limitation on, or if they are going to avoid a certain side during the golf swing.


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