In golf, proper body movements are essential in performing the age-old movement we call the golf swing. At Joey D Golf understanding these movements is our specialty. So, naturally having our clients run through a full body assessment is vital to our way of teaching. As their coach understanding how their body moves helps me identify some of the limitations that are detrimental to their golf swing. These limitations whether it spawns from lack of flexibility, range of motion, strength, balance or even compensations from previous injuries allows me to build a program based around an individual’s needs.
For example, there might be some strength and imbalances in their hips, tightness in their shoulders or in their back. Issues that will often hinder the student from moving the correct way throughout the golf swing. Over the next few paragraphs we’ll go through a common fault we see in the hips due to lack of mobility and strength and show you an exercise that gives our student the range of motion they need to improve their overall game.
What I often see during a backswing is the golfer’s inability to separate the lower body from their upper body. For example, if I ask a student to show me a backswing with proper hip rotation what they will usually do is move their pelvis along with their upper body at the same time.
This sets them up in a very weak position at the top of their swing and although it might feel powerful to turn everything and get behind the ball in such a way, in actuality they are making it harder on themselves to swing the club properly on plane and they’ll be prone to injury as well.
So what causes this? More often than not it’s due to poor hip mobility. The hips help move the legs in all different directions while stabilizing them at the same time. Although some might have strength in some areas of the hip few enjoy a full range of motion thus negatively impacting their golf swing.
If you can’t involve your lower body properly during the swing then it becomes an upper body dominant golf swing, affecting their backswing, downswing and follow through.
One of the things we do at Joey D Golf in order to fix these issues is to get the hips to not only be strong but mobile enough as well. A great simple exercise I incorporate with my student’s training is called Mountain Climbers. My colleague Ali Gilbert, a Fitness Professional introduced me to this exercise as a way to create some greater range of motion in the hips.
Her explanation of the exercise goes as follows, “Mountain climbers create full body tension allowing us to dial into the ground so that we hit pretty much every muscle but forces us to use our hip flexors which are often weak, and mistaken as tight. Strengthening our hip flexors in conjunction with the other core muscles will allow our nervous system to recognize the hip joint as stronger, thus allowing more movement in that area.”
Melissa Corley Demonstrates how the Mountain Climbers exercise is performed:
Then you repeat the same thing with the other leg.
Very important to keep the hips from bouncing up and down. The slower you perform this exercise the better you’ll stretch out the muscles throughout the move. A plus to this exercise is that you will also be engaging your core muscles as well the arms and shoulders. Push for ten repetitions on each side.
Identifying weaknesses such as hip mobility issues and working towards correcting them will have a greater benefit to you and your game than working around a, say chaotic move with very little control and coming up with compensating moves. Addressing these issues will not only let us play the game for a longer period of time but it will also help us lead a much more comfortable lifestyle. As golf specific fitness and swing coaches here at Joey D Golf, it is not just our responsibility to improve the game of our students but to improve their overall health. The Mountain Climbers exercise will definitely help you do both.
Until next time hit them well!
Marvin Sangüesa is a PGA Professional Golf Coach based at the Joey D Golf Performance Center in Jupiter, Florida.
More information about Marvin Sangüesa is available on his website www.marvinsanguesa.com and on Youtube where he posts regular instructional videos. You can also follow Marvin online on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.