Functional training programs have been used in a variety of rehabilitation settings with documented success. Based on that success, the concept of functional training has gained popularity in applied fitness settings to enhance sport performance. However, there has been little or no research studying the efficacy of functional training programs on the improvement of sport performance or functional fitness. Thus, it was the purpose of this study to determine the effect of a progressive functional training program on club head speed and functional fitness in older male golfers. Eighteen male golfers (age: 70.7 +/- 9.1 [SD] years) were randomly assigned to an exercise (N = 11) or control (N = 7) group. The exercise group participated in an 8-week progressive functional training program including flexibility exercises, core stability exercises, balance exercises, and resistance exercises. Pre- and postmeasurements included club head speed of a driver by radar (exercise and Control) and Fullerton Senior Fitness Test measurements (exercise only). One-way analysis of covariance was performed on club head speed measurements using pretest measurements as the covariate. Paired t-tests were performed to analyze Senior Fitness Test variables. After the intervention, maximal club head speed increased in the exercise group (127.3 +/- 13.4 to 133.6 +/- 14.2 km[middle dot]hr-1) compared with the control group (134.5 +/- 14.6 to 133.3 +/- 11.2 km[middle dot]hr-1; p < 0.05). Additionally, improvements (p < 0.05) were detected for most Senior Fitness Test variables in the exercise group. In summary, this functional training program resulted in significant improvements in club head speed and several components of functional fitness. Future research should continue to examine the effect of functional training programs on sport performance and functional fitness in older adults.
(C) 2007 National Strength and Conditioning Association