Learn How To Hit A Golf Ball Out Of Sight

RISING What’s the difference between your Long Drive version of golf and everyone else’s?

JOE MILLER ‘I’m not sure my version is all that different to yours; every single golfer wants to hit the ball out of sight and if you don’t, you're just lying to yourself! That said, Long Drive is so far removed from what you’d traditionally associate with the game of golf. It’s faster, more exhilarating, and the live music gives it more of a party atmosphere.’


RISING You’re a two-time world champion – what have you learnt about performing under pressure?

JM ‘After losing five years in a row I discovered just how determined I am to succeed, especially as I got my World Title back. I’ve learnt that I perform best under pressure and I’m mentally tough. Some people thrive on the pressure, whilst others shy away from it. For me, personally, there’s nothing better than being under those lights with an electric atmosphere – the crowds getting into it brings the best out of me.’


‘The more you practice the luckier you get, so you just keep going – it’s about self-belief’


RISING How did you maintain your self-belief when you had that losing run of five defeats?

JM ‘I’ve been doing this for a long time now and you come to the realisation that there are a lot of conditions that decide the outcome. I’ve been beaten in World Championships before by players who have had the better conditions. At the same time, the more you practice the luckier you get, so you just keep going. If you’re someone who always gives up, you’re never going to make it that far, so it is about having that self-belief and the confidence to keep on going.’


RISING Do you run through a preparation routine before your competitions?

JM ‘My pre-game routine is more physical than mental. I always have a good warmup, lift some weights even on the morning of a competition, but I make sure I’m eating well as the big day approaches too. It’s important not to be carrying any unnecessary extra kilos!’


RISING Do you use any mindfulness or other focus techniques during competition?

JM ‘My way is to stay calm and relaxed. I don’t like showing too much emotion. You’ll see some of the players shouting and screaming after they’ve hit, but that’s not for me. I channel all my energy and power into the swing. After the ball has left the club head there’s nothing more I can do.’

RISING What’s going on with the World Record in this sport? Why can none of you bother the mark set by a 64-year-old in the 1970s?

JM ‘I’ve heard many conversations about this, but I’m not sure it’s genuine. If the technology and product of today was available in those days... it would have been one hell of a feat!’

RISING How much of your sport is power, and how much is technique or mental attitude?

JM ‘It's 100% technique and 100% speed. In order to win, you need to be mentally strong – some guys have it and some guys don’t. You see some people struggling to even tee the ball up because the occasion gets the better of them. You can do as much preparation in the gym as you like, but if you can’t cut it on the night you won’t be able to make an impact in this sport. It is cut-throat.’


‘If you want to hit it a long way you’d better train like a BEAST!’


RISING Oh, so power isn’t the end game – why is swing speed so important?

JM ‘Whoever swings it the fastest usually wins. Put it this way: if you have two guys side by side and they can hit it exactly the same, on the club and spin rate, then it will come down to who can swing the club the fastest. More club head speed equals greater ball speed, and more ball speed equals greater distance. Of course, it doesn’t always pan out that way as there are a lot of conditions that play a role, such as wind, rain and how the ball bounces on the fairway.’


RISING Do you do have to hit the gym to build strength to turn into speed?

JM ‘I train like I want to build my body: build speed, build strength, build power, build flexibility and endurance. To help deal with the wear and tear on your body, and the strain that’s put on it, you have to look after yourself in training and build up the endurance needed to succeed and stay dominant in this sport. It’s all about getting used to the swing motion.’


RISING What lessons can the rest of us learn from what you’ve discovered about the physical demands of hitting a golf ball hard enough to turn it inside out?

JM ‘Anyone can learn how to hit a ball longer, but if you want to take it to another level, think outside the box to the normal way of training. If you want to hit it a long way you’d better train like a BEAST! We are in the gym every day, building up our strength and speed. You should be doing more explosive types of training, like jumps, because you need to learn to use the ground as much as we do throughout the entirety of the golf swing.’

RISING OK, so what moves would you recommend to build strength and speed?

JM ‘A simple exercise like a squat is one of the best exercises you can do, and it will help you get stronger and more powerful, which will help improve your golf swing. A lot of weight does transfer through my right leg when I hit the ball but things like box jumps are a good exercise to do. Doing a plyometric box jump though is not going to help improve your power but a squat for example, is going to help for the power of the plyometric exercise. If you want to build power and strength then you can introduce plyometric exercises at a later stage.’


‘As simple as it sounds, swinging a golf club is the best way to improve flexibility’


RISING And what should we do to generate the flexibility needed for a fast swing?

JW ‘As simple as it sounds, swinging a golf club is the best way to improve flexibility. Lifting weights can make you stiff and it can make your muscles tired. If you swing a golf club 100 times a day and you feel stiff then there’s something wrong. If flexibility is an issue though then do exercises that are going to help with that. For me, spending the morning in the gym and the afternoon on the range covers the whole spectrum, so I don’t favour strength over flexibility, I just make sure I’m doing enough of both.’


RISING What do you think is the human top limit for hitting a golf ball in terms of distance?

JM ‘I think the next step for longer drives will come from a technological advance – either shafts or club head design. You don’t think a human can get any faster than where we are at right now, but they can in my eyes! I’m always striving to find an extra mile per hour.’

RISING What would you say to someone who was dismissive of the Long Drive World Series as being all about brawn over brains?

JM ‘I’d say “you try hitting a one-degree driver!”


RISING A one-degree what, now?

JM ‘It’s a driver with no loft on the face. So the average tour player uses a driver which is about eight or nine degrees, an amateur golfer would have one that’s 10 or 12 degrees and an average long driver would use one with a loft of about five degrees. When you start getting really fast, one degree is about as low as you can hit it. Having a one-degree loft with club head speeds of over 150mph means that ball is going to go a very long way! If you have a one-degree driver and you can swing the club 150mph, then the ball is going to go as far as it can possibly go and produce the furthest distance.’


WHAT NEXT? Joe Miller defends his winning run on July 8th at the UK’s first ever Long Drive World Series event  in London. But you can get a taste of the action by heading down to your local driving range and putting Joe’s Top 3 Tips For A Perfect Drive into action, and watch our exclusive accompanying video (below): ‘First, make sure you breathe deeply and relax your body – it’s so important. The less tension there is in your body, the better. Second, grip the club as lightly as you can – the lighter you can grip the club the more turn you can generate, which means the club has more time to pick up speed and you will hit the ball further. Third, go through the full range of motion on the way back – at that point you will hit it as fast as you possibly can.’