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Opinion & Analysis

How your shoulder blades can affect your club face: Part 2

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This article was co-authored with Chris Gibson, an Australian AAA-rated golf professional. His teaching philosophy focuses on simplicity and longevity in the game, providing help for golfers at all levels. He focuses on interpreting information from technology and applying it in the simplest way possible to help his students

Before you begin reading this article, make sure you have read Part 1 in this series, otherwise not much of this is going to make sense! Here, in Part 2, Chris and I are going to offer solutions that will help you to develop better stability and control of those all-important shoulder blades.

But first, in response to requests for a more detailed photographic explanation, we will also show you the good and bad of scapula-positioning when standing upright and in a golf setup. The two models featured are an underdeveloped teen who has poor scapula control, and a top-100 player in the world who has five years of scapula stability training under his belt (in addition to other training).

You can see that in Pic 1; the teen had a lack of bulk and activation in the muscles surrounding the scapula and it appears to poke through the skin. This leads to the right shoulder sitting very low and internally rotated at set up (Pics 2 and 3), which as we suggested in Part 1 of this article, makes it ultimately more difficult to control the clubface consistently. Where as the more trained athlete (whilst still not perfect: right shoulder is low) holds his scapula better in standing and set up, which we believe gives him a better chance to repeatedly control the clubface efficiently in his action.

Pic 1

Scap Article Comparison - behind

Teen (left) and top-100 player in the world.

Pic 2

Scap Article Comparison - target

Teen (left) and top-100 player in the world.

Pic 3

Scap Article Comparison - face

Teen (left) and top-100 player in the world.

Hopefully that clears things up for you and we can finally offer you a solution to training those scaps. The scapula is notoriously difficult to control; instinctively, we generally have poor awareness and usually aren’t very strong or stable in the muscles that surround it. Training of these muscles can be be tricky and complicated, so we have tried to simplify it for you by delivering two sets of simple exercises that we use as a starting point for many of the players (elite or otherwise) that we work with.

These simple drills can be done using either a piece of rubber tubing or more ideally, the training piece you will see in the photos called the Gravity Fit Thoracic Pro.

We have created one mini program for home and one mini program for the practice range. The movements are simple and don’t require any kind of in-depth anatomical knowledge to perform them correctly. We have supplied photos and descriptions of how to perform the movements, but also welcome questions and queries.

Home Exercises

Circuit – 3 Rounds – 30 seconds of rest between exercises.

  1. Tubing Push Out – Thoracic Pro – 12 reps
  2. Wall Push Up – Thoracic Pro – 12 reps
  3. Set Up Posture Drill – Thoracic Pro – 45 secs
  4. Waist to Waist Turns – Thoracic Pro – 10 reps
1. Tubing Push Out
  • Purpose: Training scapula awareness, control and endurance
  • Method: Stand tall, press arms forward keeping shoulder blades and spine connected to back paddle, turn palms up as you near end range. Control back to start position and repeat.

Scap Article 4

2. Wall Push Up
  • Purpose: Training scapula awareness, control and endurance.
  • Method: Stand tall, lower your chest toward the wall keeping your shoulder blades and spine connected to back paddle. Control back to start position and repeat.

Scap Article 3

3. Set Up Posture Drill
  • Purpose: Training scapula awareness, control and endurance in golf setup.
  • Method: In golf set up with hands in tubing, turn shoulders/elbows/hands outwards. Gently pulse hands against tubing.
Scap Article 5
4. Waist to Waist Turns

Purpose: Training scapula awareness, control and endurance in rotation movement pattern.

Method: In golf setup with hands in tubing, turn shoulders/elbows/hands outwards. Turn into backswing then turn into follow through. Maintain shoulder/elbow/hand positioning all the way through.

Scap Article 6 Range Drills

Circuit – 10 rounds – 20 secs rest between drills

  1. Set Up Posture Drill – Thoracic Pro – 20 secs
  2. Waist to Waist Turns – Thoracic Pro – 10 reps
  3. Preset, Backswing to Impact – 5 reps
  4. Preset, backswing to hit ball – 3 reps
1. Set Up Posture Drill
  • Purpose: Training scapula awareness, control and endurance in golf setup.
  • Method: In golf set up with hands in tubing, turn shoulders/elbows/hands outwards. Gently pulse hands against tubing.

Scap Article 7

2. Waist to Waist Turns
  • Purpose: Training scapula awareness, control and endurance in rotation movement pattern.
  • Method: In golf set up with hands in tubing, turn shoulders/elbows/hands outwards. Turn into backswing then turn into follow through. Maintain shoulder/elbow/hand positioning all the way through.

Scap Article 10

3. Preset, Backswing to Impact
  • Purpose: Practice first move, top of backswing and back to impact in controlled manner. Opportunity to discover what positions feel like with quality scapular control under low load (moving slowly).
  • Method: Set club parallel to ground with good shoulder position (connected scapulae), slowly swing up to top of 3/4 backswing and back to impact.

Scap Article 9

4. Preset, backswing to hit ball
  • Purpose: Taking the movement patterns and control of the scapula and applying it to hitting balls.
  • Method: Set club parallel to ground with good shoulder position (connected scapulae), complete rest of swing and impact at normal speed

Scap Article Last

The equipment featured in the exercises is called a Gravity Fit Thoracic Pro. It was conceived and designed by a world leading scientist in the field of physiotherapy. Designed for the specific task of training stability and strength in the shoulder girdle and scapula, it also works really nicely when applying that quality to dynamic rotation in a golf swing context. We love using it with our students and you can get one here: www.golffitproshop.com.

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Nick Randall is a Strength and Conditioning Coach, Presenter and Rehab Expert contracted by PGA Tour Players, Division 1 colleges and national teams to deliver golf fitness services. Via his Golf Fit Pro website, app, articles and online training services, Nick offers the opportunity to the golfing world to access his unique knowledge and service offerings. www.golffitpro.net

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Loui Cuppari

    Aug 13, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    I’ve been working on scapula control and upper arm connection for about a year now and ball striking has improved considerably after 30 odd years of frustration. I believe setting the right scapula is the main key along with connection of the upper left arm.

    I think getting this scapula/upper arm control or bracing/setting right is the swing of the future.

  2. Allan

    Feb 10, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    I agree with Chris. It is not super clear to me what is correct and exactly why the scapula is having such a dramatic impact of club face at impact.

    • Lou

      Mar 19, 2016 at 12:50 am

      I believe it allows you to control the lift of the club and horizontal movement (thoracic rotation) using just your “scap muscles”….Doing this gives you a better awareness of the club face is throughout the swing because you won’t be using your hands for rerouting the club head into a proper inside path….the hands can do their job of just controlling the dynamic loft and face position (the handle)….

  3. Mike

    Jan 27, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    I’ve been working out with the Golf fit regimen for a 6 months and it’s really helped my rotation and flexibility. I’m 63 and my game is improving from 22 to 15 handicap over this past year. I didn’t buy this tubing thingy because I think it’s over priced and you can do it with tubing loops effectively. I just want to say that they are knowledgeable and have helped my game.

  4. Chris

    Jan 25, 2016 at 10:48 am

    If internal rotation is bad, does that mean the shoulder should be externally rotated at address or during the swing? It is unclear to me from the article what the correct movement is. Any elaboration? Thanks.

  5. rob campbell

    Jan 25, 2016 at 9:46 am

    If a top 100 player has been working on “scapula stability” for 5 years and hasn’t got it right, why would any normal person think this idea is worth his time? You’ve taken a wrong turn.

  6. Ne26

    Jan 24, 2016 at 10:48 am

    Sooooo turns out to be another article written by someone pushing their own product.

    WRX is rolling in that advertising money.

    • Billy

      Jan 25, 2016 at 8:49 am

      Why not?? Seems like you don’t quite understand the article(which is quite interesting)… Lame response

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Opinion & Analysis

A golfing memoir in monthly tokens: March (belatedly)

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Editor’s note: All latency on the publishing here is the fault of the Editor-in-Chief.

As some might say, if you don’t take the plunge, you can’t taste the brine. Others might not say such a thing. I’m taking the plunge, because I want to taste the brine.

Here you’ll find the third installment of “A Golfing Memoir” as we trace a year in the life of Flip Hedgebow, itinerant teacher of golf. For January, click here. For February, click here.

Absolutely. Meet me up north (and, to himself, what have I got to lose?)

No sense in putting the cart before the horse, as the old pro used to say, as cirE “Flip” Hedgebow used to ignore. As March came to a close, as cirE locked the pro shop for the last time until November, he took a leap of faith. How big of a leap? Let’s get through March, and find out.

Speaking of carts and horses, March for Flip always came in like a lamb, and went out like a lion. That ran contrary to the folklore but, all things considered, there was always a 50% chance of things running contrary.

No, the best reason for topsy and turvy in March, for Flip, was explained by his birthday. Being born in the middle of the month might suggest balance to some; for him, it was a constant reminder of the chaos that led up to his earthly arrival, tempered only by the madness that ensued. If that’s balance, you can have it.

In Flip’s world, March was about the arrival of the most seasoned of snowbirds, the ones with more than five years of retirement under their growing-shrinking belts. Some were expanding, as they had given up on fitness; the rest were shrinking, as the truest effects of age caught them up. In each case, this pod arrived with military precision, knowing where and when nearly every penny would be spent. No frivolity remained in their schedules, no ambiguity survived from younger, budgeting days. No longer minnows, they recognized that uncertainty stalked them, and that all of their remaining wits needed to center on a small and precise target. The smaller, the more precise, the better…for the women.

Like all men, the old guys appreciated the consistency and precision their wives brought to their worlds.

Like all men, the old guys detested the ever-encroaching, loss of control over their own destinies.

They would enter the pro shop, grab the latest hat like a modern-day Judge Smails, and set it at a rakish angle, atop their sleek domes. Flip learned quite early on that the only way to ensure the sale was cash. When the wives invariably came to complain and demand a refund, Flip could “only” offer a pro shop credit, guaranteeing that something would be purchased. If they bought it on account or on a card, the sale was irretrievably lost.

Flip expected these purchases from his March gam: the cheapest golf balls, when their supply of northern culls ran out; the attire from last fall, or even the previous summer, ready to be shipped back to the manufacturer when March 20th arrived; and some odd or end that the pro had overlooked, lost to some sort of missionary of time. The only thing stronger than the will of the spouse, was the desire of the old guy to make some sort of purchase, to re-establish some semblance of power and control, for at least a moment.

How did you get your name, and why is the last letter, and not the first, capitalized?

(silence. he rarely heard the first question, as everyone knew him as “Flip;” he never heard the second one, as no one paid attention anymore.)

Two stories are a lot to tell. Let’s save both answers, even if it’s just a little while.

(silence. she wasn’t satisfied)

If the red hair caused his eyes to move from the mundane nature of packing and sealing boxes, everything else physical compelled him to put down the tape gun, sense that his throat was dry, know that he would not clear it without a squeak, turn away for a bottle of water, take a swig for lubrication, and, finally, turn back with his finest Axel Foley smile, and greet her with: How long have you been retired?

It was an incalculable risk. There was a 90% chance that she would react with an I’m not that old sort of affront, turn on her heels, and march out the door. There was a 5% chance that she would get the joke, and would stick around for another exchange, before smiling awkwardly and departing. There remained a 5% chance of something else. On this 21st day of March, that final 5% wafted in.

Wafted in, in the guise of a lesson he thought that he had planned. Planned for one of the wives, a late-sixties model whose swing was frozen in time: the unlikely combination of a forward lurch of the torso, a reverse pivot of the feet, and right in the middle, an impossible heave of the hips in one of four unpredictable directions. If anyone were to discover a fifth cardinal point, it would be Agnes Porter. Until this moment, Flip Hedgebow gave thanks that the world was blessed with just one of her; more than one might have tilted the globe off its axis. Now, he offered up a different type of gratitude, thanks to the visage of her granddaughter, who bore no resemblance to the matriarch, beyond the title of Agnes Porter.

They write that a story may be deemed worthy for its inerrant language, or for its compelling events. The story of Agnes Porter the way-younger and Flip Hedgebow benefitted from both, along with an overdose of peripeteia.

 

Artwork by JaeB

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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: Srixon ZX and TaylorMade SIM2 Max fairways and My top 3 drivers!

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Masters hangover week is here! I have had the new Srixon ZX fairway out on the course and it is underrated as you would imagine. Reshafted the SIM2 Max 3w and it has been super consistent and comfortable. Talking about the top 3 drivers I have been hitting this year.

 

 

 

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: The importance of a pre-shot routine

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I believe one of the big differences between good amateurs and those who are not-so-good—and between the top professionals and those that can’t quite “get there”—lies in the consistency of their pre-shot routine. I read an interesting account on this subject after the final round of the 1990 Masters when Nick Faldo passed a collapsing Greg Norman. I know that was 30 years ago, but the lesson is just as relevant today.

This particular analyst timed the pre-shot routines of both players during the first three rounds and found that on the final day that Norman got quicker and quicker through his round, while Faldo maintained his same, methodical approach to every shot, not varying by more than a second or so. I think that is pretty insightful stuff.

Anytime you watch professional golf—or the better players at your club—you’ll see precision and consistency in the way they approach all of their shots. There is a lesson there for all of us—so, here are my ideas of how the pre-shot routine should work.

The first thing is to get a good feel for the shot, and by that, I mean a very clear picture in your mind of how it will fly, land, and roll. It is certainly realistic to have a different routine for full shots, chips and pitches, and putts, as they are all very different challenges. As you get closer to the hole, your focus needs to be more on the feel of the shot than the mechanics of the swing, in my opinion.

On any shot, I believe the best starting point is from behind the ball, seeing in your “mind’s eye” the film clip of the shot you are about to hit. See the flight path it will take, and on greenside shots, just how it will roll out. As you do this, you might waggle the club back and forth to get a feel of the club in your hands and take as many practice swings as it takes to “feel” the swing that will produce that visualized shot path for you.

Your actual pre-shot routine can start when you see that shot clearly and begin your approach the ball to set up. From that “trigger point,” you should work hard to do the exact same things, at the exact same pace, each and every time.

This is something that you can and should work on at the range. When you are out there “banging balls,” don’t just practice your swing, but how you approach each shot.

So, guys and ladies, there’s my $.02 on the pre shot routine. What do you have to add?

 

 

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