Toe Touch and Spine Posture Stability

In the vast realm of fitness we try to stay as objective as possible to insure that fitness training for the golfer is efficient, safe, and effective. At FitGolf Performance Centers throughout the nation we periodically conduct research studies to determine how the body influences the golf swing.  One of our most eye openings studies to date examined the Toe Touch movement and how the inability to complete an adequate toe touch affects the golf swing.

The Toe Touch Test:

Before I continue I would like you to try the Toe Touch Test. Stand up with your feet together and knees straight. Now, try to touch your toes without your knees bending. Based off my experience I’ll venture to say that many of you cannot get to the toes without bending your knees. This is a problem for your golf game.

In our research study “Toe Touch and Spine Posture Stability”, we examined the implications of not being able to touch your toes on the golf swing. Based on golfer observations we predicted that not being able to touch your toes will create challenges with maintaining the spine angle through the golf swing. In our study we used the data from 100 golfers to try to prove our hypothesis. We asked each participant to perform the toe touch test. Following the test, we administered swing motion technology to assess their movement in the golf swing.

From the data collected with the motion technology we used the “forward bend” (spine angle) measurement at the address, the top of the swing, and at impact. From our data interpretation we determined that there was statistical significance to suggest that golfers that could touch their toes maintain a more stable posture than golfers who can’t touch their toes. The implication: you can be a more consistent golfer if you can touch your toes!

I’ll bet you this golfer can touch his toes!

The Toe Touch Fix:

So you can’t touch your toes. How do you fix it?

While hamstring inflexibility is a common reason as to why a golfer cannot touch their toes, it is not the only reason. In addition to hamstring flexibility, a lack of core strength and hip mobility are also barriers to touching your toes. The issue is that it is very difficult to self-assess which one of these 3 issues you have. If you believe you have one of these issues, you may want to consider asking a body expert to help resolve the issue(s).  If you choose not to deal with your physical issues you may continuously battle posture changes in the swing, a lack of consistency, a lack of power, and potentially worse issues like back pain and injuries.

Exercises For Improvement:

While I can’t tell you directly why you are not touching your toes, I am going to give you some safe exercises to address hamstring tightness, hip mobility, and core strength.

Hamstring Stretch on Door Frame:

Let’s first address hamstring tightness (and to some extent core strength). I would like you to find an open door frame and lay perpendicular to the right side of the frame. Now place your right heel onto the door frame. Both legs should be completely straight. At this time you should feel a stretch in your right hamstring. The closer you are to the door frame, the more stretch you will feel. Pick a distance from the frame in which you feel a moderate, not intense, stretch. Hold this stretch for 60 seconds. Now, keeping your left leg straight, brace your core and lift your left leg past your right leg. Perform 10 reps. After 10 reps, move slightly closer to the door and hold 60 more seconds. Repeat 2-4 times with the right leg up then switch to the left side.

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Double Knees to Chest:

Next we will address hip mobility with the Double Knees to Chest Stretch. This one is simple. Lie down on your back and bring both knees into your stomach or until you feel a stretch in the low back, glutes, or hamstrings. Hold the stretch until you feel the tension decrease.

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Glute Bridge:

For core work you will perform the Glute Bridge. The most common association we see with tight hamstrings is weak or inactive glutes. The Bridge exercise is a simple and effective way to activate and strengthen the glutes. To perform the Bridge lay down on your back. Bend your knees with your feet flat on the ground and position the feet about hip width apart. From here, contract your glutes and push your hips up into the air high enough so the body forms a straight line from the knees to the shoulders. You should feel this predominantly in the glutes. If you feel it more in the hamstrings, it’s an indication that your hamstrings are over-active. If you do feel it in the hamstrings, lift your toes and slightly arch your back before you push your hips up. This sends a reflex through the body that will help activate the glutes. Perform 2-3 sets of 10 reps and hold each rep 3-5 seconds.

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Toe Touch Toes Up/Heels Up:

For the final exercise you are actually going to practice the toe touch movement. What most do not realize is that there is actually a proper method to touch the toes from the standing position. For some individuals, improper mechanics or poor “motor control” is the sole reason as to why they cannot touch the toes. To practice the toe touch, find something around the house you can place on the floor that has the ability to lift your toes 3-5 inches off the floor (2×4, stack of towels, a book, etc). You will also need a soft object to squeeze in between your knees (nerf ball, towels, pillow, etc). Place your toes up on the floor object, keep your heels down on the floor, and place your feet together. Squeeze the soft object between your knees and push your hips (hinge your hips) backwards so your weight shifts all the way to the heels and your upper body bends forward. Maintain the tight squeeze (this helps relax the hamstrings) and try to touch your toes without bending your knees. If you can’t get to the toes, allow the knees to bend until you can get to the toes, just keep focusing on keeping your hips back and your pressure through the heels. Repeat the motion 6-8 times then do the same thing with the heels up on the floor object for another 6-8 reps. Re-assess your touch touch with flat feet once you have completed the reps. Notice a change?

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Perform these 4 exercises daily for 2-3 weeks and re-assess your toe touch. You should feel less tension in the hamstrings and more mobility in getting to the toes. If so, you should be able to achieve more stable posture in the golf swing and see more consistent ball flight.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask by emailing me at [email protected] or by commenting in the comment section below.

Jason Rivkin

Golf Fitness Coach, FitGolf Performance Centers

TPI Certified

 

You 3-Putted How Many Times?!

How many times has poor putting cost you from shooting your desired score? How often do you say, “I was striking the ball great, but I 3-putted X-amount of times?” Missing make-able putts is often the reason for inflated scores in what would otherwise feel like a great ball striking round of golf.  Putting is not a simple science. Golf pros have written books and spent careers focused on teaching the technicalities of putting. From a Golf Fitness prospective, when comparing putting to the full swing, it appears obvious that the physical demands of putting are much less than the full swing, which is true. However, there are some simple body fixes that you can use in your fitness routine to improve your consistency  of putting and scoring.

We’ve all been there

First: Test Yourself

Before I continue, I would like you to do a quick Golf Movement test. Put the phone down or get up from the desk and get into your putting posture. This test is best done in front of a full length mirror for visual information, but if you do not have a mirror readily available I want you to keep your eyes on your knees. Begin to swivel your shoulders about 10-20 degrees right and left continuously without allowing your lower body to move AT ALL! I will venture to say that a vast majority of you cannot rotate your upper body AND keep your lower body 100% stable.  All great putters keep their lower bodies rock solid through the putting stroke. The inability to keep the lower body stable as the upper body swings the putter will create poor accuracy on the greens and will cost you strokes.

Tiger demonstrates what it looks like to remain stable in the lower body through the putt.

The Fitness Routine for More Accurate Putting:

The key to effective movement in the putting stroke is lower body stability. Use these four exercises at home or in the gym to train the lower body to remain stable while putting.

1. Open Books

To kick off your new putting improvement routine we are going to start with the open book stretch. I consider this a 2-for-1 exercise because not only are you working on keeping the lower body stable as you rotate the upper body, but you are also working on your upper body mobility and flexibility. Start by lying on your left side and bring both knees up towards your stomach. Place a ball, a pillow, or towels between your knees and squeeze down into the object so your thighs are engaged.  Now, outstretch both arms in front on your chest and place your hands together. This is the “closed book” position.  To open the book, lift your right arm towards the ceiling and rotate your chest as far right as you can until your left arm and shoulder are flat on the floor or until you hit your end range. MAKE SURE YOUR LOWER BODY DOES NOT ROTATE WITH THE UPPER BODY. When you hit your end range, take 3-5 deep breaths. Try to keep your upper body relaxed and your lower body engaged by squeezing whatever object you place between your knees. After you perform 3-5 deep breaths, return to the closed book position. Repeat for 10-15 reps and switch sides.

Closed book and open book positions.

2. Clam Shells

Now that you have loosened up and began to think about lower body stability, let’s move to the clam shell exercise. The clam shell exercise is performed to strengthen the glutes. The glutes play a key role in stabilizing the lower body as you putt.  Clam shells are best done with a “mini-band” or rubber tubing for resistance, but can be effective without a band.  If you have a resistance band, place it around both legs and bring the band up the legs to the point at which it is above your knee caps. Lay on your left side with your legs together and bring your knees up towards your stomach. Keeping your heels together lift your right knee high enough so it is just above your right hip. Squeeze your right glute (butt cheek) hard and hold for 3-5 seconds.  Make sure that as you lift your knee your lower back remains stable and does not rotate. If you begin to feel a burn in the glute, don’t fret! This is your glute getting active. Perform 15-20 reps and repeat on the other side.

Clam Shells without a resistance band

3. Half-Kneeling Rotation

Next, we are moving to the Half-Kneeling Rotation exercise. This is a more advanced exercise than the open book, but the goal is the same: keep your lower body stable as you turn your shoulders.  Start off by getting into the half-kneeling position. Place your left knee down on the floor and your right foot forward. Proper set-up is very important. Make sure that your right knee is at 90 degrees, with the right heel directly under the right knee. Make sure that your left knee is directly under your left hip. Get as tall as possible so your left shoulder, hip, and knee form a straight line. Hold a golf club across the small of your back and place your hands on your rib cage. Now, squeeze your left glute and lower abs (this is very important) and begin to slowly rotate your upper body to the right. Make sure the lower body remains stable and stop the turn when you hit your end range. Hold for a full breath. I must stress that the goal of this exercise is not to rotate as far as possible, but rather to keep the lower body stable as you rotate the upper body. Perform 10-15 reps rotating right then switch the half-kneeling set-up so your right knee is down and then perform 10-15 reps rotating left. Tough, isn’t it?

Proper Half-Kneeling Positioning

4. Shoulder Swivels

For the final exercise in the putting improvement routine you are going to perform Shoulder Swivels. I like to do this exercise with a mini-band or rubbing tubing around my legs above the knees, but again, if you do not have a band you can still do this exercise effectively. Start by getting into putting posture. Dig your toes into the ground and stiffen up the legs. Keep the knees slightly flexed like they would be when you are putting. If you have a resistance band, slightly press your knees out against the band. This will assist you in keep the lower body stable by activating the glutes. Next, cross your arms and slowly turn your chest right and left without moving the lower body. I often find that my clients have a tough time perceiving whether or not their lower body is stable, so I suggest doing this exercise in front of a mirror so you can see if you are remaining stable. Spend 30-60 seconds rotating right and left and repeat 2-3 times. Be very deliberate in keeping the lower body stable. If you were doing this exercise in front of me, I would let you know every single time your knees or hips move even in the slightest bit!

Jordan Speith showing his ability to swivel his shoulders without moving the hips.

Most Importantly, Commit and Practice!

Don’t forget to practice on the putting green to incorporate your new physical ability. This routine should only take you 10-15 minutes to complete. Try to incorporate these exercises into your normal fitness routine to make your fitness more Golf Specific. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask by emailing me at [email protected] or by commenting in the comment section below.

Good luck and happy putting!

Jason Rivkin

Golf Fitness Coach, FitGolf Performance Centers

TPI Certified

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Why is balance important for the golf swing?

I’ll be blunt. If you have poor balance, it’s very unlikely that you will produce a repeatable and consistent golf swing. In every good golf swing there’s good balance. Poor balance leads to bad body control and weight shift in the golf swing. Generally, consistent golfers do a great job shifting their weight to their trail leg in the backswing, and to their lead leg prior to impact. This weight shift pattern helps promote body stability in the swing. Bad balance will inhibit the golfer from successfully controlling their body and shifting the weight throughout the swing, leading to more swing flaws such as Loss of Posture, Early Extension, and Sway/Slide.

Bad Balance? Expect bad swings.

Test your balance!

At FitGolf Performance Centers we use the Single Leg Balance Test as one way to determine if a golfer is at risk of poor weight shift and swing flaws. As a golfer, you should test your balance. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. First make sure you have adequate floor space with no objects you can trip over nearby. This test must be performed without shoes or sneakers.
  2. Stand tall with your feet together, arms straight by your side with your palms facing forward.
  3. Slowly lift your right foot off of the floor and position the right leg so that both your hip and knee are at 90 degrees. Your knee should be directly in front of your hip, and your heel should be directly underneath your knee.
  4. When you feel balanced and stable, close your eyes and begin to count. Hold the position as long as you can. Take note of your time and repeat on the other side.

If you were able to hold the single leg position with your eyes closed for 16 seconds, you passed. If you couldn’t make it to 16 seconds, you failed, implying that your balance, or lack thereof, could negatively impact your swing and make you a less consistent ball striker.

So you failed the balance test. Now what?

Based off my experience, most golfers fail the test the first time for reasons spanning wide including poor leg, hip, and core strength, and/or poor proprioception.  Proprioception is defined as, “A sense or perception, usually at a subconscious level, of the movements and position of the body and especially its limbs, independent of vision”.  Unfortunately, as we age proprioception deteriorates. This means that in order to maintain a consistent golf swing, the golfer must physically train to maintain and improve their proprioception.  Here are three balance exercise progressions to improve your proprioception and golf swing:

  1. Single Leg Balance:

This exercise is very simple yet effective for beginners. Start by getting into a tall stable posture and stand on one leg. Once stable, try to balance yourself first with eyes open, and then eyes closed. Before closing your eyes, you should be able to hold the single leg stance with your eyes open for 20-30 seconds. Perform 3-4 sets on each leg and hold the stance for as long as you can. Once you’re proficient in the single leg balance exercise, progress to stork turns.

  1. Stork Turns Supported/Unsupported:

Using a golf club for support, pick up your right foot so you’re fully weight bearing on your left leg. Now, turn your lower body to the left to create a “pivot” in the left hip joint. Make sure you keep your chest facing forward as your hips rotate. Perform 3-4 sets x 10-15 reps each side. When you can perform 10-15 reps without losing your balance, place the golf club to the side and perform the stork turn unsupported. (Tip: when you rotate your hips, focus on keeping your weight on the inside of the foot you are turning towards.) Once you can perform stork turns unsupported without losing your balance, progress to lateral bounding.

This subject would now turn his lower body to the left.

  1. Lateral Bounding:

Get into a golf like posture and stand on your right leg only. Now jump to the side so you land on your left leg. Make sure you maintain your balance and the posture before jumping back to your right leg. The wider the jump is, the harder it will be to maintain your balance. Start with very narrow jumps and get wider as you improve. The width and speed of the jump is more important that the height of the jump. This exercise will not only help learn to accelerate and shift your weight, but also how to control the body and decelerate (just as important!) in the golf swing.

Balance exercises can be very frustrating, but be persistent! The more time you put into working on your balance, the more consistent of a golfer you will be. If you have any questions about how your balance affects your golf swing, or about the balance exercises listed above, please email me directly at [email protected]. Good luck!

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Reference:

proprioception. (n.d.) Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary. (2012). Retrieved August 23 2017 from http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/proprioception

Balance and Weight Transfer with DBS

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Master Your Weight Transfer with Boditrak

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Batter’s Up! Use Baseball for Power

At the 2016 World Golf Fitness Summit I attended a lecture presented by Liam Mucklow. Liam played professional golf and competed at the World Long Drive Finals. The topic of his lecture was improving the kinematic sequence of the golf swing. The kinematic sequence describes the way great ball strikers generate club head speed. Regardless of swing style, research has proved that great ball strikers generate speed the same way. The kinematic sequence describes this method. In order to create the most speed possible, transition into the downswing must start with lateral weight transfer to the lead leg, followed by rotation of the lower body, then the upper body, arms, and the club last.

Proper Kinematic Sequence/Order of the Downswing:

  1. Weight transfer
  2. Lower body rotation
  3. Upper body rotation
  4. Arms
  5. Club

At FitGolf Performance Centers we use technology called K-Vest to see if our clients have a proper kinematic sequence. Almost all golfers I evaluate that desire a more powerful swing display a poor kinematic sequence. There is not a simple solution for fixing a bad downswing. Not one body is the same and there are a number of physical restrictions that act as road blocks to a good swing. If you feel like your body acts against you in the golf swing, you should seek the help of a TPI Certified personal trainer, athletic trainer, physical therapist, or chiropractor.

Liam provided some really interesting interventions to improving the kinematic sequence. One of the interventions that really stuck with me utilized a baseball swing. To understand the glaring similarities between a powerful baseball swing and golf swing let’s take a look at two examples of power at its finest. Let’s start with hall of famer Ken Griffey Jr.

In my opinion, that is the most beautiful swing in the history of baseball. Take note at the sequencing of movements when he goes to hit the ball. First, he plants hard into his lead leg. Second, he creates lower body rotation. Third, his upper body rotates. Fourth, he swings his arms. Lastly, he releases the bat and made the night for one lucky fan sitting deep in the outfield.

Now lets look at a golf example. I’m going to use Bubba Watson, a Masters Champion with an unconventional yet undeniably powerful swing…

Take a look at his downswing. The sequencing of movement is exactly like Griffey’s, isn’t it?

So what is the take-away of all of this? We know that powerful ball strikers sequence the downswing the same regardless of swing style. We also know that sequencing of a powerful baseball swing is exactly the same as the golf swing. Hence, you should practice the baseball swing to become a more powerful golfer!

Next time you practice go through your warm-up routine, then, before you hit golf balls take 10-20 baseball swings BOTH right and left handed. Make sure you practice good kinematic sequence. Always make sure your lead leg is planted before the bat or golf club rotates. Once you completed your baseball swings, forget about proper sequencing. Once again, once your done the baseball swings FORGET ABOUT PROPER SEQUENCING! If you practice these baseball swings regularly over time, your body will develop a new motor pattern, or muscle memory. Once this happen, the kinematic sequence will become a natural thing for you (that is if you do not have major physical restrictions getting in your way).

BATTER’S UP!

If you have any questions about golf fitness please contact Jason directly at [email protected].

Power Your Way Through Fall Golf with Golf Fitness Exercise

How different would your scores be if you could drive 10, 20, or even 30 yards further? When our golfers here at FitGolf Performance Centers set their goals, rarely is additional yardage left out. As a golf fitness coach, I consider many factors before implementing a golf fitness exercise power training program. First thing considered is mobility. Without adequate mobility in the body’s joints, your muscles will not be able to lengthen to the extent which is necessary to create elastic energy to generate power. The more range of motion a golfer is able to obtain, the more power they will be able to generate. However, range of motion is not the only precursor to power. Golfers with great range of motion will only be able to use it to their benefit as long as they have adequate stability in their joints. The body’s joints have an alternating mobility-stability pattern. For example, the joints in the lumbar spine (low back) provide your torso with stability so your mobile joints in the thoracic spine (mid-upper back) have a solid foundation to rotate off of. If stability in your lumbar spine is compromised due to weak “core” musculature, it is impossible to safely and correctly achieve rotation in your thoracic spine, which is crucial to a powerful golf swing. Golf Fitness Exercises can help all of these things.

golf-power

Golfers of different gender and age usually have issues with mobility, stability, or both. We generally see that men tend to have more issues related to mobility, but adequate stability. On the flip side, women and junior golfers tend to have much better mobility, but less stability. Every individual’s body is unique and it is important to have specific physical issues, whether pertaining to mobility or stability, identified by a golf fitness professional through a comprehensive evaluation and implementation of golf fitness exercises.

Once full joint range of motion and stability of all the body’s joints is established, it is then appropriate to implement power training into your golf fitness exercise program. Half kneeling medicine ball chop slams is a great beginner-intermediate exercise to start out with. This exercise requires a medicine ball and a partner or wall to which you will be bouncing the medicine ball to. Here’s how they are performed:

Start by kneeling on your left knee with your right foot out in front of you. With the medicine ball in your hands, elongate your spine to become as tall as possible and tightly squeeze your left glute and abdominals. From here you are going to use both hands to bring the medicine ball diagonally over your right shoulder. While maintaining balance and a tall posture, bounce the ball across your body with the goal of slamming it to the ceiling or over your partner’s head. It is critical keep your core engaged in order to maintain balance and generate the most power. If you do not have a medicine ball, you can use a 5-10 lb. weight. Just make sure you do not release the weight once you bring in across your body. Perform 5-10 repetitions and switch knees and directions of the bounce or chop.

For any questions relating to mobility, stability, and/or power, please email me at [email protected]

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Is Your Fitness Routine Hurting Your Golf Game?

Are all core exercises created equally?

It is well documented that core strength is critical to prevent injury, back pain, and improve the golf swing. When I evaluate a golfer new to golf fitness I often hear that he or she does “core strengthening” in their current exercise routine. My first question is always, “what do you mean, core strengthening?” Too often the response is, “Oh well you know, crunches, the ab machine where you press your chest down, things like that.” After full evaluation, 9 times out of 10 this individual has weak core muscles, poor posture, and swing flaws that will create pain and injuries

Is your "core" work promoting bad swing habits?

Is your “core” work promoting bad swing habits?

Pick the right exercises for the most bang for your buck!

When picking exercises for core strength make sure you pick exercises that will improve function and ability in whatever activity you partake in. Crunches and stationary abdominal machines (and resistance machines in general) are likely to be the wrong choice for golfers. The crunch and ab machines usually promote upper spine flexion (bending). This rounds the shoulders and puts the back into a humped position. As a golfer, this is not a position you want to be training in. Excessive upper spine flexion and shoulder rounding promotes poor posture, bad rotation and flaws in the golf swing. In addition, crunches and other ab exercises that require you flex from the shoulders down to the hips can put a lot of stress down the neck and low (lumbar) spine. If you’re looking to improve your golf swing, look for alternatives to this type of core training.

In this exercise the spine forms the shape of a C. This is counterproductive when trying to improve your golf.

In this crunch/sit-up exercise the spine forms the shape of a C.  This looks like the posture in the picture above, doesn’t it? 

Exercises to get you started:

Dead Bugs

For beginners, core strengthening should focus on holding positions that promote anti-extension (arching) of the low back. One simple yet effective exercise that does this is called the dead-bug exercise (click link to view the exercise and instructions). With this exercise make sure you keep your abs braced and your low back flat and pressed into the floor. The dead-bug exercise will help you maintain neutral posture and avoid swing flaws. Perform 2-4 sets x 20 reps before your workouts or golf as a great way to activate the core.

Dead Bugs: A great exercise to learn how to control your spine as your limbs move.

Prone Plank

For intermediates, the classic exercise called plank is a great way you can challenge yourself. To execute a proper plank, start by laying face down on the floor. Position your elbows directly under your shoulders and make sure your toes and feet are flexed and curled up toward the shins. Before you lift into the plank position, contract both your abs and glutes, and make sure your knees are locked out. From here, lift your body off the floor and hold as long as possible. It is very important that you can maintain contraction of both the abs and glutes throughout the set. If you are unable to keep the abs and glutes contracted, lower yourself and take a rest before your next set. Perform 2-4 sets to the point of fatigue (but not to failure), during your workouts or before golf.

Plank: A great exercise to improve spine stability and core strength.

I must stress that golf fitness usually does not look like traditional fitness. If you are unsure whether or not your current fitness routine is helping your golf game, I suggest you find a TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Certified Golf Fitness Professional in your area for an assessment. If you have any questions about golf fitness please feel free to email me at [email protected]

Jason Rivkin

BS Athletic Training, CGFI-FP1

TPI Certified

Golf Fitness Coach

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Get on a Roll for Better Swing Sequence

Better swing sequence is crucial for consistent ball striking. So developing good sequencing can be challenging for the amateur golfer. As a result the amateur golfer may not develop good swing sequence.

Check out this video courtesy of Jeremy Klinkhamer (FitGolf San Diego) and SoCal Golf Insider. He will teach you an exercise that are especially relevant for learning a better sequencing.

better swing sequence

Click here to learn about improving sequencing

Phases of the Golf Swing and Exercises for Improvement: Part 2 Cont.

This is part 2 (continued) of a 4-part series examining different phases of the golf swing. These phases include the set-up, backswing, transition into the downswing, and weight shift and rotation to impact. Most know that each phase is important into achieving a consistent and powerful golf swing. As a result this series will provide are simple exercise interventions to make each phase easier for the amateur golfer. This article is about physical interventions and exercises to make a better backswing.

In my previous posts I discussed ways to improve your address posture and backswing. Before you start thinking about improving your movement in the downswing you must make sure your positioning at the top of your swing is correct. It’s unlikely that I move onto downswing movement training if a client exhibits swing flaws at the top of the swing such as reverse spine angle, reverse pivot, and/or over rotation of the hips and shoulders. Based on my experience, a vast majority of amateur golfers exhibit at least one of these flaws at the top of the swing.

One of the best ways to avoid flaws at the top of the swing is to make sure the trail leg and foot is properly loaded and performing the role as stabilizer of the upper body and shoulder rotation (unless you use stack and tilt). Ideally, at the top of the swing the trail leg and foot should accept the majority of the golfer’s weight. More specifically, the back of the trail foot and heel should be loaded at the top. More times than not, golfers I assess do in fact get the majority of body weight to the trail leg. However, most do not properly get to the heel of the foot.

The key to loading the trail leg and heel is to keep the leg stable and eliminate almost all lateral motion in the backswing. A golfer can have one or more multiple physical restrictions making proper weight shift and load difficult. What we know is that a golfer must have adequate hip internal rotation (over 45 degrees), strong hip muscles and glutes, great balance, and good movement patterning to be successful.

There’s a great swing drill you can use to determine if you have what it takes to properly load your trail foot consistently. It’s called the trail leg loaded backswing. In your address, shift 80-90% of your weight to your trail leg with the knee slightly bent. Now take a slow backswing while maintaining 80-90% of your weight on the trail leg. Make sure your knee does not move or change its angle. You know you are doing this successfully if you are able to make a full backswing without moving your weight away from the heel of the trail foot or without the knee straightening out or “bowing” outside of the foot. If you struggle doing this then it’s likely you have a physical restriction such as poor hip mobility, strength, or balance.

Phases of the golf swing - the top.

On the left, you will see poor loading of the trail hip. Notice how his weight rolls to the outside of the foot and the knee bows out.

 

It is difficult to self-evaluate golf specific physical restrictions. I recommend that if you struggled doing the drill correctly that you seek out golf fitness professional. In conclusion great ball striking requires proper loading of trail leg and foot. In my next post we will turn our attention away from the back swing and move to part 3, transition into the downswing. If you have any questions about how your body affects your golf swing, please email me directly at [email protected].

Jason Rivkin

Golf Fitness Coach

FitGolf Performance Centers of the Delaware Valley

 

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