In the last part of our Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) article series, we dove into the meat and potatoes of the TPI golf screen. As promised, we will delve into the functional movements associated with swing characteristics #7 to #12. At the end of this article you should have a clear picture as to which functional movement faults are associated with each common swing error characteristic.
If you have any comments or questions regarding the functional movements or swing characteristics, please ask a Burnaby golf professional.
To review, the 12 most common novice swing characteristic flaws are:
- Loss of Posture
- Flat Shoulder Plane
- Early Extension
- Reverse Spine Angle
- Hanging Back
- Casting/Early Release/Scooping
- Chicken Winging
Sway: characterized by any excessive lower body lateral movement away from the target during the back swing that forces your weight outside of your back foot. This lateral shift makes it increasingly difficult to create an adequate weight shift during the transition and the downswing.
Test yourself: Stand comfortably and shift all of your weight onto one leg while simply placing the toes of your opposite foot on the ground for balance. The leg with all of your weight is the test leg. Now, place your hands on your hips and turn your torso towards the leg holding all of your weight. Turn your upper body as far as possible without changing the forward pointing direction of your toes on your stance leg. Make sure you attempt to turn in both directions. You should strive for 60 degrees of rotation in either direction on both legs.
Speaking to right-handed golfers, if you are unable to twist your torso about 60 degrees to the right while keeping your right leg planted, you will be more likely to experience a sway in your golf swing. Adequate hip rotation is essential in creating a consistent golf swing.
Slide: any excessive lower body lateral movement towards the target (opposite of sway). A slide swing characteristic makes it increasingly difficult to stabilize the lower body during the downswing, which will decrease the speed and power created by the upper body during the swing.
A sound golf swing requires the lower body to be stable while the upper body initiates and creates swing speed during the downswing. Basically, as you start your forward shift from your lower body during the downswing it needs to transfer energy to the upper body and provide a stable base for the rotary forces created by the upper body and club. Failing to have a stable platform will result in a loss of power.
Test yourself: Same test as Sway characteristic.
Again, for the right hand golfer testing the left leg with left torso rotation will be telling of the likelihood of a slide swing characteristic. We are looking for about 60 degrees of hip rotation in all directions.
Reverse Spine Angle: any excessive upper body backward bend or lateral upper body bend during the backswing. This swing characteristic makes recruiting proper swing sequence much more difficult, especially in the downswing. Most importantly, this swing characteristic is arguably the biggest reason for golf related back pain due to the upper body taking the majority of the load of the golf swing.
Test yourself: Grab a club from your bag and place it on your shoulders behind your neck. Sit on the end of a chair and gasp the club behind your head with both hands. Place your feet flat on the floor with your knees and feet together (glued together). Now, keeping you feet and knees together and not bending the club on your neck, rotate your upper body to the left and then the right as far as you can. It is essential that you do not torque the golf club behind your head, lose your posture or separate your knees or feet during the test. Repeat the test as needed and try to recognize any differences in your rotation from side to side. 45-70 degrees of rotation is what we are striving for in both directions.
Hanging Back: occurs when a golfer fails to shift their weight correctly onto their front foot during the downswing. This is a common swing fault seen when golfers are hanging behind the ball during impact, which results in a loss of power.
Test yourself: Lie on your back and place your feet flat on the floor as close to your butt as possible. Once comfortable, raise your torso off of the ground using your heels as the main driver of force. Hold this bridge position and extend one leg straight out and try to maintain your balance while keeping your hips up and even. If your hip drops down when you lift a leg, your glute (on the leg that is still on the ground) is likely not firing adequately. Repeat the same test with the opposite leg.
When performing this test you should feel your gluteal muscles firing. A common fault with this test is hamstring (back of your leg) dominance instead of gluteal muscles. An inability to contract your gluteal muscles (hamstring dominance) will increase the likelihood of a hanging back swing characteristic. Your gluteal muscles are the powerhouse of your golf swing and therefore need to be activated in order to create swing speed and power.
Casting/Early release/Scooping: are all names of premature releases of the wrist during the downswing and into impact. The loss of angle results in a weakened impact position with likely a lofted positioning of the clubface.
Test yourself: Ensure you have adequate wrist mobility by extending both arms out as far as possible and turning your writs downwards as far as possible. With your arms in the same position, turn your writs backwards towards your body as far as possible. Now bend your elbows so your arms are at your sides and give a thumbs up sign. Now hinge your wrist downward towards your feet and upwards towards your head as far as possible.
While performing the above tests be aware of any side to side differences that may exist.
Chicken Winging: the breakdown of the lead elbow through the impact area. This swing characteristic makes it increasingly difficult to create speed or power and it puts an excess amount of strain on the outside of the elbow joint.
Test yourself: Find a full-length mirror. Take your 5-iron stance. From this position, take your right elbow/hand and lift it to be inline with your shoulder while maintaining your 5-iron stance. While maintaining this posture, try to bring your right hand as far back as possible. If you cannot rotate your shoulder to bring your hand inline with your shoulder (even slightly beyond) while maintaining posture, you have an increased likelihood of possessing a flat shoulder plane.
Article by: Sergio Pasqua, Lee Chiropractic and Sports Therapy Clinic