“The Hips and Core are major components on the physical side of the equation of the golf swing. Developing the required levels of joint mobility and stabilization strength are integral for the golfer to execute a proficient golf swing. Limitations in either of these physical components can easily impede one’s ability execute a competent golf swing.” – Sean Cochran
Q: Sean, in your opening statement you stated the importance of the hips and core relative to the golf swing, please explain?
A: The execution of the golf swing is a “feet to fingertips” athletic action where the entire kinetic chain is utilized. In order for the kinetic chain to perform the required movement patterns of the golf requires certain levels of joint mobility and segmental stabilization. If certain joints are limited in terms of mobility or certain segments of the body are “weak”, executing an efficient swing without compensatory patterns will be very difficult.
The hips are an integral joint in the golf swing relative to the rotary components of the swing. That being said, if limitations are present in terms of mobility the body will compensate in an attempt to perform the required rotary actions of the golf swing.
The core which is a reference to an anatomical area of the body basically from just above to slightly below the chest entailing all of the soft tissue structures on the anterior, posterior, and lateral aspects of the body.
The core is a segment of the body requiring high levels of muscular strength and endurance in order to stabilize the kinetic chain through the athletic actions associated with the golf swing. If the core musculature is unable to stabilize the kinetic chain and execute the athletic actions of the swing, compensatory patterns will most likely develop.
Q: Sean, what do you see as the most problematic problems with the hips relative to the golf swing?
A: Typically, if limitations exist in the hips it tends to gravitate towards limitations in either internal, external rotation or both. Recognize, executing the rotary components of the golf swing in both the backswing and downswing require large degrees of both internal and external rotation in the hips.
Limited internal and external rotation will reduce the ability of the golfer execute the rotational components of the golf swing. One of two situations will typically arise when this is the case. Number one would be the golfer not rotating in the backswing or downswing. This will result the development of compensatory actions such as a slide or sway causing a loss of speed and potential swing plane issues.
Secondly, and more harmful on the physical side of the equation, the golfer will recruit the lumbar region of the lower back to compensate and create rotation in the golf swing. The unfortunate side of this situation is the lumbar region of the lower back is not intended to rotate to a large degree. That being said, continuing to ask the lumbar region to create rotation in the golf swing will eventually lead to injury.
Q: It is very apparent from you answer above the importance hip mobility plays in the golf swing. Now tell me about the core and where golfers get off track?
A: The core as we discussed previously is an anatomical section of the kinetic chain. It is responsible for maintaining postural positions within the golf swing, initiate movement patterns and generate swing speeds. If the core is weak or muscles are inhibited, the ability to execute these requirements of the swing will be limited. These limitations can easily lead to the development of swing faults such as a flat shoulder plane, over the top move, or lifting of the club in the back swing.
All of which will cause limitations in speed development, consistent ball striking, and ball flight. Basically, we can see the core is integral component of the golf swing which does require a specified level of conditioning to execute the requirements of the golf swing.
Q: Knowing the importance of the hips and core in the golf swing what do you recommend the amateur golfer do to address these areas?
A: The simple answer is to address these areas of the body with a series of mobility and strength training exercises. The implementation of this type of training over time can improve and develop the required levels of mobility and stability needed to execute the athletic actions of the golf swing.
Outside of the implementation of mobility and strength training exercises it is imperative the golfer be provided with instruction of the correct type of mobility and strength training exercises for golf. For example, relative to the development of stabilization within the core certain exercises are better for the golfer than others. Secondly, a progression in terms of exercises is best to develop the core correctly and provide the golfer with the greatest benefit from their training.
This is where it is best for the golfer to seek out a professional with experience in golf fitness training. Such experience will provide the golfer with the guidance to implement of training program conducive to their sport.
About Sean Cochran: Sean Cochran is one of the most recognized golf fitness trainers in the world today. He travels the PGA Tour regularly working with Tour professionals most notably 3-Time Masters, PGA, and British Open Champion Phil Mickelson. Sean has been involved in the production of numerous golf fitness videos and books including Performance Golf Fitness, Golf Fitness Over Fifty, Junior Golf Fitness, Complete Conditioning for Martial Arts, and Stronger Arms and Upper Body. Additionally, he has been a presenter at numerous educational seminars including the world renown Titleist Performance Institute.
Upper body and thoracic spine mobility are key components of executing a proficient golf swing. The thoracic spine is a section of the spine located between the shoulder blades of the upper. The T-Spine (thoracic spine) is a mobile section of the spine allowing for rotary actions of the upper body to occur.
- Improves Your Golf: Upper body mobility
- Target Area: Thoracic Spine
Why Its Important: Execution of the golf swing where rotation occurs around an imaginary axis require both upper and lower body mobility. In addition the creation of separation between the upper and lower body requires both of these anatomical sections of the body to independently rotate. The thoracic spine is a key component of this ability to create rotation within the upper body and execute these aforementioned requirements of the golf swing.
The Common Problem: Limitations in terms of thoracic spine mobility will most likely impede the golfer from performing the rotary requirements of the golf swing. This will lead to an inability to create separation, limit the ability to create an X-Factor, and lead to the development of swing faults in an attempt to overcome this physical dysfunction.
Solution: A golfer with limited T-Spine mobility can address the situation with the implementation of corrective golf fitness exercises to improve mobility within this section of the upper body. The result of such golf exercises over time is the improvement of one’s T-Spine mobility. This can lead greater efficiency in executing the rotary requirements of the golf swing.
- Position the left hip in contact with the floor and bend both knees to 90 degrees
- Place the right knee directly on top of the left knee
- Extend arms straight positioning the left arm of the floor
- Place the right arm on top of the left arm
- Slowly raise the right arm off the left and begin to rotate your shoulder
- Continue to raise and rotate the right arm until it is on the right side of the body
- Attempt to rotate to a position where the right arm is resting on the floor
- Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat in the opposite direction
About Sean Cochran Golf Fitness Trainer: Sean Cochran, one of the most recognized golf fitness instructors in the world today. He travels the Tour regularly working with PGA Professionals, most notably three-time Masters, PGA, and British Open Champion Phil Mickelson. He has been involved in the production of numerous golf fitness videos and authored books including; Performance Golf Fitness, Golf Fitness Over Fifty, and Junior Golf Fitness. He has been a presenter of educational seminars for numerous organizations including the Titleist Performance Institute.
“The amount of preparation he has put into every aspect of his game at this point in his career is phenomenal,” said Sean Cochran, Mickelson’s trainer. “Since 2010, it’s been a progression. Not a week goes by that he doesn’t work.” - Sean Cochran
“The goal of a strength and conditioning program for the tour player is to develop the body around the golf swing. This type of training incorporates a comprehensive training program of flexibility exercises, core training, strength development, and speed training.” - Sean Cochran
“Everyone can benefit from learning the particular strength and flexibility exercises they’ll need to improve and execute their golf swing and overall game,” – Sean Cochran
“I noticed since 2010 (the year Mickelson was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis) he’s been much more conscientious to eat healthy,” said Sean Cochran, Mickelson’s longtime trainer, “ And this off-season he’s been much more dedicated to his workout program.” – Sean Cochran
“This is the first time we’ve had our hands on so many amateurs and we are able to let them know how important the physical side of golf is…The public has realized there is a physical aspect to the golf swing.”- Sean Cochran
“….Phil has been very consistent with his workouts. He’s realized that the quality of the swing he makes is directly related to the quality of his fitness.” – Sean Cochran
“Lower-back injuries probably have derailed more golf careers than anything…What a serious strength-and-conditioning program can offer, along with performance improvement, is injury prevention, and increased longevity.” – Sean Cochran
“I know what Phil is working on in his swing…His swing is shorter and to get the same power he has to recruit more speed from other areas which requires a lot of lower body strength.” – Sean Cochran