The Importance of Hip Rotation in the Golf Swing

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Golf is a great sport. People of all walks of life are able to play the game at will.

There are old guys out there who haven’t missed a putt in 20 years and shoot low despite not hitting the ball more than 200 yards at time, all the way to the junior player hacking the ball around the course.

A lot of times I will sneak over to the golf course after work to get a round in by myself. Inevitably, I end up playing with a good amount of different people.

Being a strength and conditioning coach, I cannot help but to constantly evaluate people’s movement. It almost happens subconsciously.

At the same time, I let people do their thing because I am not a PGA pro and they just want to have fun for a couple of hours. There is no need for me to bother them mid round.

I still have my observations though.

Most average golfers need better hip rotation.

Good shots are pure luck when the hips are not moving. This was actually one of my biggest areas of improvement when I took some lessons over the summer.

In an effort to control my swing, I was not rotating my hips or shifting my weight at all.

Since my hips were not moving, I could not finish my back swing and I was definitely not getting onto the front foot and through the ball.

This is definitely an issue that too many golfers have to deal with.

The Backswing

Completing the backswing is important for clubhead speed and face contact. With an incomplete backswing I used to throw my hands at the ball, losing it in both slices and pulls.

Also, basic physics will tell you that a longer backswing will increase the speed of the club. The body is the axis and the club is a lever. Increase the lever length and force will increase.

This is why Bubba Watson can hit the crap out of the ball despite appearing to not have a single upper body muscle. He has maximized his technique on a long swing. 

backswing

In order to get into a full back swing the hips and T spine (another post) must rotate back. The trail leg must internally rotate and the lead leg will externally rotate.

Any restrictions in these two movements are going to cause compensated or incomplete movement.

This means inconsistent shots, a lot of money spent on golf balls, and a lot of stress on the low back.

Opening up hip rotation will reduce low back pain and improve performance with the golf shot.

The Downswing

When we come back down from the top of the backswing, the hips and lateral core muscles need to get the body going.

Failure to rotate the hips forward will dig the club right into the ground.

I will save the optimal timing of the hips and X factor talks for the teaching pros, but the hips need to oppose the movements that got us rotated into the back swing.

The lead hip now has to internally rotate and the trail hip externally. Movement restrictions here will not allow us to come through the ball and onto the lead foot.

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Personally, if my hips don’t come through I will fall off balance, backwards.

Simply put, the hips need to be mobile enough to rotate both to the left and right.

If not, the swing will be drastically affected. Take all of the practice swings you want, but movement restrictions need their own attention.

Swinging with free hips will reduce the risk of back injury and produce better shots.

If you are struggling to get into a full backswing or cannot get onto the lead foot then you may have restrictions in the hip.

Increasing the mobility of the hips may be the secret to shooting better scores.

Stay tuned for how to determine your limitations in hip rotation, but also exercises on how to increase this rotation.