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A fix for overactive hips, a cause of “The Flip”

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As we all know, the golf swing is powered from the ground up, but many golfers take that too far — particularly when it comes to hip action.

Hip action is an important factor for controlling the low point and impact alignments of a golf swing, but when it’s overused it can cause the lower body to outrun the the upper body and create impact issues and severe mishits. So how do you fix excessive hip use? I’ve used my teaching tools, including Trackman data from a recent lesson, to explain.

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 10.13.34 AM

In this sample swing, you can see that this student’s hips have slid too much laterally — they’re way past the vertical yellow line that I drew. This caused the student’s head to stay back in an effort to counterbalance his body movement. When this occurs, the right shoulder dives downward for too long in the downswing, and the low point shifts rearward. The move also causes the golfer’s pivot to stall, and his hands had to fire early in effort to move the low point father forward so he didn’t hit behind the ball.

You know the shot I’m talking about. With an iron, it causes very thin contact that sounds “clicky” and has little compression. 

When golfers make this move, the ball will usually fly wildly offline since the flip interrupts the normal closing rate of the club face. Dynamic loft and vertical impact points will be compromised because of the flip move as well. It’s not a great combination, wouldn’t you agree?

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 10.13.54 AM

This wildly off-line shot was setup by improper hip motion.

So what’s the solution?

The best way to combat this type of swing is to reduce hip action by hitting small shots with your left foot turned in to feel yourself posting up more through impact. When you do this, your rear shoulder will move more “down and out,” which moves moving your low point more forward through impact without the need for any make-up moves. 

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 10.14.14 AM

A Word of Caution: When doing this drill, only swing at slow-motion speed. Hitting full speed shots like this may cause injury to your left knee.

When you turn your left foot inward, you’ll feel the instant posting up of your lower body. From there, it’s up to you to move the right shoulder through impact so the pivot of the upper body will continue to “pull” the arms and hands through. In order to do this, you’ll need to feel like you’re hitting low punch shots, which will cause you to increase shaft lean at impact. It will also reduce your dynamic loft by adding more compression.

Remember, this is a two-fold process:

  1. You must slow the hips.
  2. The upper body pivot must drive the arms through impact, leaning the shaft more forward.

Once you have this feeling at partial speed, work up to full speed with this same type of connected, punch-shot feeling until you can do it at Mach 1 with your driver!

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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (www.puntamita.com) He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email: tom.stickney@puntamita.com

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. JP K

    Jul 15, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    Extremely impractical advice. Why not use “the marching move” which you can easily incorporate into the swing and take to the course much like 14 of 17 multiple major winners have?

  2. Rob

    Jul 14, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    Wow, so many people must have missed the point of this article judging by the number of shanks.

    Reducing hip action means reducing the lateral slide of the hips, not slowing down the rotation of the hips. Two totally different things.

  3. dr bloor

    Jul 12, 2015 at 11:57 am

    Actually, it can be as big a problem for hitters as golfers. If your hips “fly open” through your swing, you’re more vulnerable to losing a lot of power and/or making a lot of weak contact, probably to the right side (for right-handed hitters).

  4. other paul

    Jul 11, 2015 at 2:16 am

    I started rotating my hips as fast as I can and am doing the opposite of this article and I gained 25 yards on every club in the bag. No flip, just a rotational swing with very little slide.

    I suspect people who are reading the same articles I am clicked shank…

  5. Tom Stickney

    Jul 11, 2015 at 12:09 am

    Forget the photo of Hunter. It does not show what the article is about

  6. Ryan

    Jul 9, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    So Hunter Mahan flips ?

    • may be typos

      Jul 10, 2015 at 8:44 pm

      To a degree, I’m sure everyone does
      You gotta release sometime

  7. gdb99

    Jul 9, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    Can’t wait to get to the range to try this!
    I can feel my hips sliding forward instead of turning, and my hips are always tight after playing a couple days in a row.
    Thanks!

  8. Tom Stickney

    Jul 9, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    One last note…never hit full speed shots with any club with your left foot turned in.

  9. Nolanski

    Jul 9, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    Great read. I always had my front foot turned open slightly per Hogan’s Five Lessons book. But it just wasnt for me because my hips would just fly open.

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Instruction

The 3 best ways to train your golf swing

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Understanding how to effectively train and practice is critical to transferring skills to the golf course.

In golf, I view training as a thoughtful, deliberate rehearsal of a motion to develop technique. This is better rehearsed away from the golf course. Practicing golf consists of developing your skill to take to the golf course—an example being learning to hit shots in certain winds and shot shaping.

“A lawyer will train to be a lawyer, then he or she will practice law” – The Lost Art of Golf

I find the below examples the best ways to train effectively. These techniques will also help facilitate a swing change and make your training and practice more efficient.

Mirror Work

I like my student to implement what I call “mirror work”. This is done by looking into a mirror from the face-on position.

This is a great way to get external feedback (information delivered from an outside source). Learning by external feedback will help facilitate the required body movement to produce a particular shot. It’s also a cheap and effective way to train. Research suggests observation in a mirror is considered external, so the use of mirrors will elicit external feedback, enhancing the learning process.

I prefer students to only check positions from the face-on view. If a player starts checking positions in a mirror from down-the-line, moving your head to look in the mirror can cause your body to change positions, losing the proper direction of turn.

Train Slow

Learning a new motion is best trained slow. At a slower speed, it is easier to monitor and analyze a new motion. You will have increased awareness of the body and where the shaft is in space. At a faster speed, this awareness is more difficult to obtain.

I often use the analogy of learning how to drive a car. First, you took time to learn how to position your hands on the wheel and position your foot next to the break. When comfortable, you put the car in motion and began to drive slowly. Once you developed the technique, you added speed and took the car on the freeway.

In martial arts, there are three speeds taught to students: Slow-speed for learning, medium speed for practice and fast speed for fighting. Again, the movement was trained slow to start. Once comfortable, the motion was put into combat. This should be similar to golf.

Finding Impact

Use an impact bag to get the feeling of impact and an efficient set-up. If you don’t have an impact bag, a spare car tire, bean bag or something light and soft that can be pushed along the ground can be used.

I like to refer to the impact bag as a “Push bag”. Start by setting up into the bag, lightly pressing the shaft into the bag. You will notice how your trail arm slightly tucks in and as your right shoulder drops below the left with your body leaning forward, an efficient set-up.

To get the feeling of impact swing the club back and down into the bag while maintaining your body shape. Don’t move the bag by hitting it, rather pushing it. Note how you maintain your wrist angles while pushing the bag (not flipping) and the right side of your body moves through impact.

Train your swing with these three training techniques to play better golf.

@KKelley_golf

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Instruction

How posture influences your swing

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S0 what exactly is posture and how can it alter your swing? Posture is often the origin to a player’s swing pattern. I like to look at posture as the form of the body from the front view and down the line position at address.

“Shape” in posture is the angles our body creates at address. This includes the relationship between the upper and lower half of our bodies. This article will examine the importance of this shape from the face on view.

For an efficient posture that creates a simple, powerful, and repeatable swing, I like a player’s shape to be set into what I call their “hitting angles.” Hitting angles are similar to the impact position. In the picture below, note the body angles at address highlighted in green.

Once we are set into these hitting angles, the goal of the backswing is to maintain these angles, coiling around the spine. When these angles are maintained in the backswing, the club can return to impact in a more dynamic form of our set-up position. This creates minimal effort that produces speed and repeatability—essentially doing more with less.

The further we set up away from these hitting angles, our bodies will have to find impact by recovering. This is often where a player’s swing faults can occur. We want our body to react to the target in the golf swing, not recover to strike the ball.

Think of a baseball player or football player throwing a ball. When the athlete is in their throwing position, they can simply make the movement required to throw the ball at their intended target. If their body is contorted or out of position to make the throw, they must re-position their body (more movement) to get back into their throwing position, thus making them less accurate and powerful.

The good news about working on your posture is that it is the easiest part to control in the swing. Posture is a static motion, so our body will respond to 100 percent of what our mind tells it to do. It’s talentless.

Here is a simple routine to get you into these hitting angles.

To start, tuck in your trail arm making it shorter and below the lead arm, which makes your trail shoulder lower than the lead shoulder. This will give you the proper shape of the arms and wrist angles. Pictured right is Ben Hogan.

With these arm angles, bend from the hips to the ball and bump your body slightly forward towards the target getting ‘into yourself’. You may feel pressure on your lead foot, but your upper half will still remain behind the ball. Note the picture below with the blue lines.

Practice this drill using a mirror in front of you, head up looking into the mirror. Research has shown mirror work enhances motor skills and performance. Anytime you have external-focus based feedback, the learning process will escalate.

There are a lot of different postures on the PGA Tour and many ways to get the job done. There are no cookie-cutter swings, and players have different physiology. However, research and history have shown that an efficient posture gives us the best chance for solid contact and our desired ball flight. Work hard on the areas that are easiest to control: the set-up.

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Instruction

Golf 101: How to chip (AKA “bump and run”)

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Although golf for a beginner can be an intimidating endeavor, and learning how to chip is part of that intimidation, this is one part of the game that if you can nail down the fundamentals, not only can you add some confidence to your experience but also you lay down a basic foundation you can build on.

How to chip

The chip shot, for all intents and purposes, is a mini-golf swing. To the beginner, it may seem like a nothing burger but if you look closely, it’s your first real way to understand contact, launch, spin, compression, and most importantly the fundamentals of impact.

What is a chip shot? A pitch shot?

Chip: A shot that is hit typically with anything from a 3-iron to a lob wedge that launches low, gets on the ground quickly, and rolls along the surface (like a putt) to the desired location.

Pitch: A shot that is hit typically with anything from a PW to a lob wedge that launches low- to mid-trajectory that carries a good portion of the way to your desired location and relies on spin to regulate distance.

Now that we have separated the two, the question is: How do I chip?

Since we are trying to keep this as simple as possible, let’s just do this as a quick checklist and leave it at that. Dealing with different lies, grass types, etc? Not the purpose here. We’re just concerned with how to make the motion and chip a ball on your carpet or at the golf course.

Think “rock the triangle”

  1. Pick a spot you want the ball to land. This is for visualization, direction and like any game you play, billiards, Darts, pin the tail on the donkey, having a target is helpful
  2. For today, use an 8-iron. It’s got just enough loft and bounce to make this endeavor fun.
  3. Grip the club in your palms and into the lifelines of your hands. This will lift the heel of the club of the ground for better contact and will take your wrists out of the shot.
  4. Open your stance
  5. Put most of your weight into your lead leg. 80/20 is a good ratio
  6. Ball is positioned off your right heel
  7. Lean the shaft handle to your left thigh
  8. Rock the shoulders like a putt
  9. ENJOY!

Check out this vid from @jakehuttgolf to give you some visuals.

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