The three most important areas of your body for golf are:
- The Hips / Glutes
- The Core / Pelvis
- The Scapula (shoulder blades) / Upper Back
Why are they important?
We focus on these three parts of the body because they are key to your golf swing — no surprise there! The reason they are key to your swing is that they are the three areas that have the biggest influence over what the club does. If the three key areas work properly then we have a better chance of making a repeatable and bio-mechanically efficient swing. You know, the kind of swing that repeats time after time and doesn’t require a lot of timing and manipulation from the hands. That swing is more likely to produce a consistent strike and better control over the golf ball.
Each key area requires a certain amount of both mobility and stability — mobility from the joints, stability from the muscles. This means that we can achieve the required range of motion (mobility), but with complete control and awareness of how the key area is moving (stability).
Before we look at each area individually, it is a good idea to get comfortable with the idea that during the golf swing, each movement of the body has an influence over another part of body. It’s a domino effect and is sometimes referred to as the kinematic sequence or kinetic chain of the golf swing. This principle is especially relevant to the three key areas as they have a very large influence on the rest of the body and ultimately the club head and your golf ball.
Let’s examine each area and talk about how we want them to function and what effect they have on our swing.
Key Area No. 1: The Hips/Glutes
The key to hip mobility is internal rotation; this is where your femur (thigh bone) rotates inwardly in your pelvis. If you are a right-handed golfer, then you make this movement in the right hip in the back swing and then in the left hip in your follow-through (see image 2). The opposite is true for lefties, of course.
We want a nice full range of motion in this movement so we can make a full hip turn both on the way back and on the way through. This hip turn is important because the amount of rotation we get affects the amount of trunk/shoulder turn, which also has domino-like effects further up the chain.
Our hips are stabilized by our glute (butt) muscles. If these muscles work properly, then we can control our hips and get them turning — not only to full range of motion, but also in the right direction and prevent non-efficient movements like lateral hip sway and slide (see image 3). Good quality hip rotation will control where the hips are positioned in the golf swing and therefore where the trunk and shoulders are positioned and so on up the chain.
Key Area No. 2: The Core/Pelvis
The range of motion in the pelvis is mainly relative to pelvic tilt, both forward and back (see figure 5). We want good range in this movement because our pelvis has to go into a degree of forward and backward tilt during the swing. Any restrictions here can lead to a poor spine position in the swing and the associated compensations having to be made by the arms and hands (see figure 6).
Good core stability is crucial to not only efficient movements during the swing, but also to the health of our lower back and spine. Our core muscles are essentially the support system for our spine and we need to get them to a good level of stability, strength and awareness. Then we will have some solid protection for our lower back during the golf swing, which imparts considerable load and strain on our bodies. With great core stability, we can also control the pelvic tilt we talked about earlier and maintain a good spinal posture throughout your swing.
Key Area No. 3: Scapula (shoulder blades)/Upper Back
There are two things to cover here — rotational mobility in the upper back and mobility of the shoulder.
It’s no secret that we need to be able to rotate the upper back in order to make a decent shoulder turn. Without a good shoulder turn (between 75 and 100 degrees, depending on who you speak to) then you will either have a very short backswing, or you will make an inefficient movement somewhere else in the body to gain the required rotation (see image no. 8 for a typical lower body collapse compensation).
The key range of motion at the shoulder is external rotation (see image 9), we need good range here (more than 10 degrees) in order to set the club on plane.
The scapula has a huge influence on the movement and function of the shoulder, which affects the elbow, the wrist and ultimately the club. We can have fantastic range of motion in the shoulder, but if we are lacking control of the scapula then it is really difficult to get the club set in the right position and yep, you guessed it – we have to make an inefficient compensation somewhere else to do so.
With any luck, you now have a solid understanding as to why it is so important to have a combination of good mobility and solid stability in each segment.
If you would like to access training programs that improve your 3 key areas, then check out the following products and services from Nick at Golf Fit Pro: