Golf Fitness: Dissociation or Sequencing?

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I learned a lot when I took the TPI level 1 course a few years back.

It was really my first venture into the golf world. I spent a lot of time in the fitness realm before that but this was the first exposure to the golf side.

For a golf pro, the info may not have been new but it was for me.

I remember one thing in particular about the presentation. There was a good demonstration of the kinematic sequence of the golf swing.

The proper order of movement in the down swing is hips, upper body, arms, and club. Any number of things can happen when that gets out of sequence.

Dave Phillips, who was leading this presentation, was very sure to point out that you are not going to be able to determine this info without 3D mapping or really advanced camera work. The thought process is that people are going to try to use their phone to break down the kinematic sequence.

Next thing we know everyone is trying to work on sequencing without actually knowing what the person’s sequence is. Even worse, fitness pros are going to start diving into training the golf swing itself.

If everyone listened to his warning we would not really have to worry about dissociation as much as we do.

Dissociation is separating the upper and lower body in movement. There is nothing wrong with this. People should be able to differentiate upper and lower body movement. This type of control is important for success in certain exercises and drills.

When dissociation becomes sequencing we have issues. Assuming that the TPI methodology is correct, we do not know someone’s sequence without advanced technology. We also cannot assume that someone needs dissociation drills just because they are a golfer.

I used to think that my hips had issues clearing and was leading to coming over the top and slicing. When I went to my coach this past winter my hips were definitely clearing. They were actually clearing too much, opening up my stance, and hitting across the ball.

My golf game would not have gotten any better if I did a bunch of dissociation drills to help improve my hip clear.

As long as we differentiate dissociation from sequencing we are set up for success. 

The difference is key. I do not have the means to determine someone’s sequence. It would be irresponsible to then work on their sequence because I saw a bunch of drills.

I can, however, give a golfer the ability to separate their upper and lower body in the effort that if they need to dissociate they have the ability to. Using it in their swing is really up to a golf coach.

I would really stay away from sequencing in fitness unless advanced tech/ a qualified golf pro is involved in the process. Otherwise, what if we are doing more damage than good.

Separating the Upper and Lower Body

I am still all for good body awareness and control. For example, being able to rotate at the upper body without the hips is just good mobility training.

Building this kind of control is important for any athlete. Some of my favorites are below.

This T spine rotation drill locks the lower body and only allows movement at the upper back. This is especially helpful for rotating into the backswing.

T spine extensions differentiate movement from the lower and upper back. A lot of back pain cases are due low back extension, which it is not designed for.

The OH kneel to stance will lock the upper body in place while the lower body is forced to move. Great for helping the hips out.