Swing away, with good form!

A Series on Functional Exercises for Golf: 1/3

Hello Golfers,

This article is written to shed some light on correcting the mechanics that effect a more fluid gold swing. When there is tightness in the hips, the golfer will adjust for this by prematurely rotating the torso and shifting the shoulders. This ‘premature rotating’ of the torso before the hips are in position is actually a compromising of golf swing mechanics. Bringing the muscles involved with torso rotation into play before the the hips are in position interferes with the distance that can be attained from the golf swing.

There are certain areas that the golfer must address in order to develop the physical attributes that make for a better golf swing:

  • Flexibility (Range of Motion)
  • Maintenance of Center of Gravity (Balance)
  • Generalized Motor Program Development (Sequencing)
  • Promotion of Good Posture

The exercises presented in this article can help the golfer to improve stability and increase range of motion in the hips. The improved stability and increased range of motion will enable the torso to rotate with minimal restriction. These exercises will also help improve balance with respect to shifting the hips and rotating the torso.

The rotation of the torso depends upon the degree of flexibility/release that is present in the hips. The golfer will “need 60° of hip flexibility (internal hip rotation) for an unimpeded backswing.” There is need for even greater hip flexibility for a proper follow through. “The follow through phase requires sufficient flexibility of both upper quarters and the hips to reach full finish position. Limitations in hip internal or external rotation . . . will not allow the golfer to fully follow through and thus not allow time to fully decelerate the swing.” **** Even though many excellent golfers may have faulty golf grips, all great golfers use their torsos properly.

These series of photos show how to set up drills that will educate the mechanics of hip rotation, internal rotator release and external rotator release. Keeping the hips level during torso rotation will lend to more timely activation (sequencing) of the muscles which drive hip shift and torso rotation.

The rotation of the hips, torso and shoulders must be properly sequenced: i.e. the hips rotate, then the torso and the shoulders finish the rotation. Teaching the body to move ‘in sequence’ and to be more stable will allow for effortless torso and shoulder rotation during the initiation and finishing of the swing.

Cable station torso rotation

Rotation is good for golf
Line up the shoulders so that they are over the hips. The movement addresses torso rotation and release of the internal hip/thigh rotators. Keep the knees seperate.
Rotation is good for golf
This movement educates the hip rotation, torso rotation and inner thigh release necessary for the backswing. Notice how the lead knee turns in slightly.

Backswing

In this position, the feet will not move. This will facilitate the release of the internal hip rotators and the thigh adductors. Keeping the torso upright as torso rotation ensues will engage the core.

The movements shown here are accomplished by using external resistance in order to illicit a core stabilization response. The hips have to stabilize as the internal rotators and the thigh adductors have to release

This movement teaches the body to rotate the hips and torso for optimal golf swing mechanics. The rotation of the hips and torso goes up to a point before the torso/spine and shoulders begin their finishing of the rotation. By teaching the body to be stable up to that point, the torso and shoulders will more effortlessly rotate during the initiation of the swing.

  1. The feet planted
  2. Keep the knees separate
  3. The core engages
  4. The hips and shoulders begin to rotate at the same time.
  5. Repeat this exercise on both sides
  6. The hips stay level and they shift position. This rotation facilitates a release of the internal rotators as the core stabilizes the torso in position for the backswing.
Rotation is good for golf.
With this movement the torso is aligned so that the back knee and the sternum are pointing in the same direction. The shoulders are lined up over the hips.
Rotation is good for golf.
The rotation of the torso occurs due to the coordinated rotation of the hip, knee and ankle. From the finished position, the torso rotates more deeply to finish the swing.

Drive/Followthrough

In this position, the stationary foot will not move. This will facilitate the release of the external hip rotators. Keeping the torso upright as torso rotation ensues will engage the core.

The movements shown here are accomplished by using external resistance in order to illicit a core stabilization response. The hips have to stabilize as the external rotators have to release

This movement teaches the body to rotate the hips and torso for optimal golf swing mechanics in relation to the downswing and followthrough. This drill teaches the body to be stable up to the point where the torso and shoulders will more effortlessly rotate during the finishing of the swing.

  1. The feet plant
  2. The core engages
  3. The hips and shoulders begin to rotate at the same time.
  4. Repeat this exercise on both sides
  5. The hips stay level as they shift position. This rotation facilitates a release of the external rotators as the core stabilizes the torso in position for the downswing and follow through.
  6. The trailing foot, knee, hip will rotate in the transverse plane as the hips stabilize.

http://somaxsports.com/web/efficientgolfer/index.php
http://overthetopgolf.blogspot.com/2011/03/most-important-part-of-golf-swing-your.html
**** Geisler (2001), Science of Flexibility, Michael J. Alter, Page 277

Golf, what’s in your tool box?

Assess the situation on the golf course. Have you properly gauged the distance? Have you made the necessary biomechanical adjustments? Will you be able to apply the appropriate amount of force? Where will the ball end up? These are interesting questions and perhaps, at one time or another, they have crossed your mind.

Golf tools in your toolbox.
Assess distance. Make adjustments. Apply force. Is the ball going where you intended it to go?

In the game of golf, many panaceas are applied to help in the improvement of scores. New balls, new golf clubs and golf lessons are the methods employed to help you hit the ball better, drive the ball further and swing the club more consistently. These methods do help for a period time. However, because you may sit all day or perform the same repetitive tasks throughout the day, your body sets up movement patterns and areas of tightness that can detract from your game.

You may be loathe to admit it but your body may require some tuning up. Does the golf ball go further down the fairway because of the new club you purchased? Maybe the new balls that you purchased are designed for better flight and they enable you to drive farther. Perhaps, the new ball adheres to the green in such a way that your putting is more consistent. No, the biomechanics of your body brings the club into contact with the ball such that it flies straighter and farther down the fairway. The stability of your body, with the appropriate areas of flexibility and balance of strength, enhances your ability to drive the ball farther and to putt with more consistency and accuracy.

Conditioning for golf; this is not an absurd idea. The golfing parameters of club face alignment, swing path, angle of impact, club speed, and sweet spot are factors that impact golfing errors such as hooking, pulling, slicing and pushing. Your golf game, as with any physical endeavor, is a direct reflection of the condition of your body.

The flexibility, center of gravity, movement patterns and posture of your body can be improved through a comprehensive conditioning program. By increasing your optimal level of conditioning, you will experience a decrease in back, neck, shoulder and hip pain. By relieving pain in these areas, you will achieve better contact between the club face and the ball, longer drives, and improved putting consistency.

An exercise that you can do to help your golf game.

Ab-Sutra Health and Fitness Coaches, LLC, in Scottsdale, AZ, will help you to lengthen short and tight muscles, obtain optimal flexibility and muscular balance. Call us for an appointment at (480) 247-2502.