Training External Rotation to Improve the Golf Swing

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As of late, golfers have become athletes.

This statement is true when we see the pictures and videos of golfers in the gym working hard to get better.

The only problem with this statement is that it ignores the majority of golfers- the everyday guy or girl.

The top golfers in the world only make up a small percentage of the golfing population. The rest is the group of people that work for a living and play golf for fun.

These people may sit at a desk for a living or spend a lot of time driving in the car. This seated position can negatively affect the shoulders.

When we sit, the shoulders round forward. This causes internal rotation of the humerus.

Internal rotation is not a pleasant position for the shoulder.

Too much IR can put pressure on the labrum and supraspinatus tendon. This happens to a lot of people in general, not just golfers.

When we swing a golf club we must be able to externally rotate the arm. Getting out of IR and into ER is a struggle for those in the example above.

If we cannot get into a good ER position in the swing then something is going to go wrong. The shoulder will receive extra stress, the low back will start to hurt, or the handicap is going to skyrocket.

In the backswing, the trail arm must externally rotate to get the club into the slot. A limitation in this movement can cause an over the top swing characteristic.

back swing

If you ever have trouble with hitting balls fat and inconsistent, then coming over the top is all too familiar. I myself have issues with hammering the club into the ground and then proceeding to flip out in frustration. Guess what one of my limitations is? Trail arm ER.

The body is going to find a way to get into positions. Without adequate movement, injury can occur.

The ability to externally rotate the arm lies in the shoulder blades. We must have stable shoulder blades that allow the humerus to move in the direction we need.

Stability of the scapulae is created by the rotator cuff along with other stabilizing muscles. Three of the rotator cuff muscles externally rotate the arm.

Rounded shoulders mean that the rotator cuff muscles will be lengthened and weak as a result. Without a rotator cuff doing its job, stability of the shoulder is questionable.

Everything that I have talked about to this point means that to improve external rotation we must train shoulder stability. Military presses, lateral raises, and empty the cans are not going to get the job done.

Training External Rotation

There are many ways to train shoulder stability and ER to improve the golf swing.

  1. Side Lying External Rotations

Keeping the elbow on the side keeps the shoulder in a good position and ensures that we are rotating.

  1. Band External Rotations

This variation requires keeping the shoulder blades tight and swiveling the arm back. The back of the shoulder should be on fire if done properly.

  1. Y’s

Performing a Y with a band or plate activates the shoulder blade. When these muscles are allowing for stability, external rotation can increase.

band y

A better golf swing can be accomplished by providing stability for the shoulder. Getting into better positions will improve the actual swing and reduce the numbers of injuries from forcing a bad movement.