fitness

Solving your golf swing problems through golf swing improvement –                                                                                         NOT by getting fitter, buying a $600 driver, or improving your frame of mind!

Every school of thought in golf has some ‘very important things’ which must happen in order for a golfer to hit a good shot consistently.

As the TPI has perhaps the world’s creme de la creme of experts on it’s Advisory Boards, in subjects including medicine, biomechanics and fitness, let’s look at their ‘must have’ requirements first.

A quick summary of TPI’s ‘physical causes’ shows that the MAIN REQUIREMENTS FOR the GOLF SWING which can give desirable ball flight are (all are body-position requirements except ‘over-the-top’, which checks shaft-position):

Weight shift with good pelvis upon hip rotation; maintenance of the spine angle of address; good thorax-upon-pelvis separation (X-factor); great body (core) stability; and the setting and maintenance of a good wrist angle.

TPI links the ability for a golfer to do all of the above with their having specific fitness levels. However, unless research shows that, for example, “all golfers who have poor lower body strength will ‘early extend’ and all early extenders have poor core”, fitness cannot be considered the curative factor for swing faults. Surely the world has millions of golfers who cannot do a ‘deep overhead squat’ but still make a good downswing move? Or vice versa.

Why must we have weight shift in the golf swing? It is the requirement for weight shift itself that is responsible for the sway and slide movements – the golfer not knowing how much weight to shift laterally before rotating! No weight shift required = no slide or sway! What if we could place the body’s weight exactly where it is required to be at impact, during the set-up phase itself?

Maintaining the spinal angle of address (along with its accompanying problems of loss of posture and flat shoulder plane), is practically an impossibility given that the  required ‘thoracic rotation’ comes with a great deal of left/lead-side lateral flexion. If the left side drops and the right trunk must then recover and drop down during the downswing how is ‘early extension’ avoided? Why not permanently have the right trunk (and arm) lower than the left, as it is at address and at impact for the whole world?

Thorax-upon-pelvis rotation (separation/x-factor) is also a difficult movement. When the spine is upright, the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spines plus the pelvis are all able to rotate similar amounts on a fairly horizontal (transverse) plane, with many big muscles aiding both spinal and pelvis/hip rotation. When this has to be done in golf posture, many of the spine and hip rotation muscles get involved as stabilizers and cannot aid in rotation as much. Also, in golf ‘posture’ the hip can still rotate but the tilted-forward thoracic spine, when trying to rotate, acquires a lot of lateral flexion – totally inappropriate for the golf swing.

Core-stability and balance too become important only because there is too much shift-and-turn required to be made in-swing in a typical golf swing. Cutting out all excess movement of the body – both side-to-side and up-and-down reduces the need for a huge amount of fitness. Separating the role of the body and that of the arms  during the backswing further simplifies the movement.

As regards wrist set. The wrists never set in a single plane. There is inevitable setting of the wrists in two planes going back, one of which (extension or backward bending) leads to a collection of problems. What if we had no backswing wrist-bend, but it developed pre-impact, just when we need it, and without volition? No cupped/bowed wrists, no laid off/across the line shaft, no early or late release, no internally rotated shoulder at the top!

The Minimalist Golf Swing System cures ALL the swing faults which create problems, whether they be faults according to TPI or any other standard.

 TPI’s Twelve Most Common Swing Faults 

(from finishfirstsports, being used on a fair-use basis for educational purposes only)

 

The Fault The resulting incorrect Swing/Ball Flight The Physical Cause 

According to TPI (from www.finishfirstsports.com/)

What the golf world wants in the swing

(SUMMARY of PHYSICAL CAUSES)

Loss of Posture (LOP)

(any change from body angles of set-up)

Timing, balance, rhythm.

Block to right, hook to left. Player now has to rely on hand action to square clubface, making it a timing-dependent move

 General stiffness and asymmetry in lower body joints and muscles, which alters set-up posture. Poor upper-lower body separation needed to rotate shoulders around spine, without changing posture. Core strength, required to stabilize spine angle, is limited. Hip and shoulder flexibility to rotate around stable posture.
  1. MAINTAIN SPINE  POSTURE (with lower body strength
  2. SEPARATION thorax from pelvis/X-factor (spine mobility & Lats flexible)
  3. STABILIZE SPINE/LOWER BODY (with strong core)
  4. ROTATE around stable posture (flexible hips & shoulders)
Early Extension  (also LOP) Hips and spine straighten up too early in downswing.  Arms will be ‘stuck’ behind body. Block or hook results as golfer tries to use hands and arms to deliver club to ball. If no last0minute hand action then even shanks can result. Lower body strength – as measured by full deep overhead squat – limited. Internal rotation of lead hip limited, not allowing downswing pelvis to rotate around lead hip in downswing. Limited spinal mobility and (tight) latissimus dorsi flexibility prevent thorax to pelvis disassociation. Gluteal and abdominal stability and strength  (to stabilize lower body) lacking.
  1. MAINTAIN SPINE  POSTURE
  2. PELVIS ROTATION AROUND HIP (with lead hip internal rotation)
  3. SEPARATION
  4. STABILIZE SPINE/LOWER BODY
Casting/Early release/ Scooping (premature release of wrist angles during downswing and through impact). Casting/early release = clubhead and left forearm in straight line prior to contact. Scooping =clubhead passes hands through impact, with conscious effort to lift ball into air. Correctly shaft must lean slightly towards target. Weakened impact with lead wrist cupped at ball-strike. This angle loss adds loft to clubface, so less power and consistency. Wrist flexibility lacking. Right wrist for right handed golfer must have good extension, left must be able to flex. Both must have good radial (hinge) deviation. Forearm and grip strength lacking, so club cannot be set and held well. Lower body dysfunction and not able to initiate sequence of power – poor hip and ankle mobility. Poor core/pelvic/lumbar spine stabilization.
  1. SET, then MAINTAIN WRIST-SET (wrist flexibility AND forearm plus grip strength)
  2. LOWER BODY INITIATES DOWNSWING (with hip and ankle mobility PLUS core strength)

 

Flat shoulder plane (also LOP)(Correct: shoulders move perpendicular to spine in backswing. Incorrect: shoulder plane more horizontal than the perpendicular to spine angle) Club out of position on backswing. Swing planes shift. Original spine angles change on downswing. Now body or hands must square clubface. Loss of power and inconsistency result. Lack of good shoulder and latissimus dorsi range of motion. Lack of Thoracic mobility. Limited upper-lower body separation forces golfer to stand up vs rotate upper against lower body
  1. MAINTAIN SPINE POSTURE
  2. SEPARATION
Over the top (Most common among higher handicappers. overuse of upper-body in downswing. Club thrown outside swing plane, clubhead approaches ball out-to-in. Pull or slice depending on clubface at impact. Limits power and ball control as this move adds/reduces club loft and adds spin to ball through impact. Inability to separate lower from upper body, prevents lower body leading in downswing. Spinal and hip mobility usually less. Core stability lacking. Good balance on both legs  especially lead side lacking, so weight-shift esp. on downswing can be limited.
  1. SEPARATION
  2. STABILIZE SPINE/LOWER BODY
  3. WEIGHT SHIFT (with good balance on each leg)
Reverse Spine Angle  (NOT a reverse pivot)(excessive upper-body backward bend/left lateral upper body bend during backswing) (line from waist to head at top of backswing, should point away from target. Difficult for downswing to start in correct sequence, because lower body not in position to start downswing. Lack of upper/lower body separation prevents shoulders rotating around spine. That is caused by limited spinal mobility and shortened latissimus dorsi flixibility. Lacking right hip internal rotation for right handed golfer. Strength and stability of core lacking.

 

  1. SEPARATION
  2. PELVIS ROTATION AROUND HIP 
  3. STABILIZE SPINE/LOWER BODY
Sway (lower body moves sideways, away from target during backswing and weight forced outside back foot) Proper weight shift during transition and downswing difficult. Lack of right hip internal rotation (joint or muscle restrictions). Limited thorax-pelvis separation because of reduced spinal mobility and reduced latissimus dorsi flexibility. Gluteal muscles are the main stabilizers for pelvis and lower body.
  1. PELVIS ROTATION AROUND HIP (with trail hip internal rotation
  2. SEPARATION
  3. STABILIZE SPINE/LOWER BODY
Chicken wing (Loss of extension or breakdown of lead elbow through impact) Difficult to develop speed/power and puts excessive force on outside of elbow joint. High weak shots result and often tennis elbow on lead side. Downswing out of sequence, club traveling on over-the-top path. Lead arm strength and lead shoulder flexibility lacking. Arm unable to rotate around shoulder. Lead shoulder external rotation and overall shoulder mobility limited.
  1. EXTENDED LEAD ARM AT IMPACT and LEAD SHOULDER MOBILITY (needs lead arm strength and lead shoulder external rotation)
  2. OVER-THE-TOP
C-Posture (exaggerated thoracic kyphosis during setup) Loss of spinal rotation and therefore  limits backswing ‘turn’ ability Upper Crossed Syndrome 1. LIMITED BACKSWING SPINAL ROTATION (because of Upper Crossed Syndrome)
Hanging Back (weight not shifting correctly back onto lead side on downswing – golfer ‘hangs back’ on trail leg and spine). This condition can also be caused by reverse pivot or sway Lack of power and consistent strike on golf ball. Will usually result in premature release of wrist angles, as the player tries to advance the club with the arms rather than with correct weight shift and pivot. Poor trail leg strength/power can prevent proper weight shift. Weaknesses in trail-side glutes, adductors and abdominals on trail side, might make players eliminate weight shift. Limited mobility or instability in lead hip can also cause hanging back.
  1. WEIGHT SHIFT 
  2. PELVIS ROTATION AROUND HIP

 

Slide (excessive lower body lateral movement towards target during downswing) Reduces power and speed from upper-body through impact. Upper body needs a stable lower body. Lower body should start forward shift into downswing, transfer energy to upper body and provide a stable base for the big rotary forces of torso, arms, club. Lead hip internal rotation lacking. Upper-lower body separation (thorax to pelvis separation) limited. Strength and stability of gluteal muscles – important to laterally stabilize lead leg – is not sufficient. (Gluteus Medius strong lateral rotator).
  1. PELVIS ROTATION AROUND HIP
  2. SEPARATION
  3. STABILIZE SPINE/LOWER BODY

(gluteal muscles)

S Posture (exaggerated lumbar lordosis during setup) Can cause loss of posture or reverse spine angle in backswing, so lower body out of position in downswing and sequence affected Lower Crossed Syndrome (causes stress on lower back structures) 1. Muscle imbalances leading to back stress

 

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