Phil Mickelson’s trainer shares his diet and exercise tips for golfers

Sean Cochran helps a spectator work on his fitness at the American Express Championship Experience at the U.S. Open.

You don’t have to have a body like Usain Bolt to make it in the golf world, but that doesn’t give you permission to let yourself go. “The execution of the golf swing, there’s a physical component to it as well as a swing component,” says Sean Cochran, Phil Mickelson’s personal trainer. “There are requirements of flexibility, mobility, stability and strength in order to execute the golf swing or improve the golf swing.”

At Friday’s U.S. Open, we caught up with Cochran in the American Express Championship Experience tent, where he gave us the lowdown on how the championship player prepares himself to excel on the course.

The three-pronged approach

No. 1: Assess the situation
“What we do is we look at how is the body operating via the requirements of the swing,” Cochran says. “For example, we know that the hips have to rotate a certain amount, the upper body has to rotate a certain amount; I need a certain level of hamstring flexibility, I need a certain amount of core strength. So we’re gonna take them through a series of assessments, and they have to be within certain parameters in order to execute the swing. If they’re outside the parameters then we’re gonna give them some exercises to get them inside, or what’s required of the golf swing.”

No. 2: Work the hips
“The hips are a ball-and-socket joint, so they should rotate a lot,” he says. “Oftentimes we find the muscles around the hips are tight, so what we do is stretch the muscles around the hip to get more mobility. A kneeling hip flexor stretch would be one example.”

No. 3: Strengthen the core
“When we talk about the core, that’s all the muscles on the front, sides, back of the body — it’s this big area,” Cochran says of the misleading thought that the abs are what make up the core. “We often call that the engine of the golf swing, so we’re gonna give exercises for all [of it].” Cochran says it’s difficult to find one exercise that trains everything at once, so you’ll need to do a few in order to get the whole area strong. “Planks are very common and very fundamental for the front side of the core. We can do what we call a glute bridge, which focuses on the lower back and the glutes: You’re on [your back], knees are bent and your hips are off the ground. And then we can do some rotary work for [obliques]: I can take some tubing and do some tubing rotations, so I’m engaging the core and then I’m engaging it in a rotary pattern, which is very similar what it does in the golf swing.”

How Mickelson has improved

“Ten years ago, what I found is that he was very flexible in the lower body but not so much in the upper body. So we needed to get him more mobile in the upper body, and in addition to that, as we progressed, we’ve gotten him stronger in the core, stronger in the lower body and he’s definitively increased his swing speed.”

How he did it:

Stretching
“It’s very common stretches that a lot of people do. We could do hands on top of the [exercise] ball and stretch the lats. We’ll do a frontal shoulder stretch. We can use the foam roll. And then relative to core strength, we did exercises I just described and then more advanced ones with the exercise ball, like physioball crunches, leg curls on the physioballs, Russian twists. The majority of the speed work we do is more rotary speed work with the medicine ball, like medicine ball throws.”

Paying attention to nutrition
“If you have a race car and you give it bad gas, it’s not gonna run too well. The same can be said for any athlete,” Cochran says. “If they’re not putting good food in their body, the fuel they’re putting in their system is gonna be bad and you’re not gonna perform as well as you potentially could.” Mickelson has a personal chef, but that doesn’t excuse him from watching what he eats: “He is actually very astute in his nutrition now — over the years he’s learned,” Cochran says. “He eats a lot of fish these days, a lot of vegetables, salads, some complex carbs such as yams or things of that nature.”

Drinking (lots of water)
“People don’t realize that for your average tour player, through four rounds of golf, every round is gonna be anywhere from four to six miles of walking. So if you do a Thursday through Sunday event, that’s anywhere from 16-25 miles. That’s a lot of walking in a four-day period.”

Tackling the physical before the mental
Golf is very much a mental game, and Cochran says he leaves that training to other professionals. But he does think that an in-shape body is the first building block. “In order to be mentally focused and execute what you want it to do, you need to have a body that can physically execute what you want to do. Once I have the physical foundation built then I can hand it off to those professionals. There’s a whole plethora of sports psychologists that do that. I stick within what I know.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.