The next installment of the Unlocking Your Swing series comes from our good friend Kirk Adams, the Head Performance Coach at Golf & Body NYC. Kirk, who works with golfers of all levels, has provided us with the reasons why you might sway during the golf swing and some great drills to correct issues you might be having. Check it out!
Everyone wants to hit the ball farther. Longer drives off the tee means hitting shorter irons onto greens. shorter irons mean tighter approach shots. Tighter approach shots mean more made birdie putts and you’re collecting the most money in your foursome at the end of the round!
One of the most common swing faults we see limiting golfer’s distance is excessive lateral movement away from the target in the backswing. This excessive movement is called sway and it’s bad for your handicap.
Better players, even Tour pros, can get away with some lateral movement in their backswing. In fact, some movement of weight and pressure towards the trail leg is beneficial. However, for your average player, excessive movement can cause several problems. Sway moves the player’s center of pressure too far towards the trail leg, which causes a poor pressure shift to the lead side in the downswing. This can lower club head speed and steepen your angle of attack which with a driver, will cause you to lose distance. It can also create an inefficient swing sequence and an out-to-in club path leading to the dreaded slice.
Sway can be caused by several factors. Poor technique, injury and ball position can all cause excessive lateral movement in the backswing. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to focus on the potential physical causes. The first is poor right hip internal rotation (for a right handed player). If a player is not able to rotate into their right hip as they take the club to the top of the swing, because of joint or muscular restriction, lateral motion is going to dominate. Limited hip internal rotation is one of the most common things I seen when screening golfers. If you feel hip rotation is causing your sway, there are several ways you can work to improve it. I would start with some directed stretching and soft tissue work and add the following exercises to your workout:
Sway can also be caused by the inability to create separation between your upper and lower body in the backswing. Proper separation makes it easier for the lower body to laterally stabilize while making your shoulder turn. Players who have a hard time creating separation often have limited spinal mobility and a loss of flexibility in the large muscles of the upper back. This is another common limitation I see in the players I work with. Here are two of my favorite exercises to increase your ability to rotate and create separation in your backswing.
The last potential physical cause of sway is a lack of strength and stability in your gluteal musculature (your butt). Both the glute maximus and medius are responsible for stabilizing the pelvis and preventing lateral movement when aggressively loading into your backswing.
There are a lot of great exercises for these muscles, but for golf, it’s important to challenge them laterally similarly to the challenges they face in the golf swing. Try adding these exercises to your workout to strengthen your hips and eliminate distance stealing lateral movement.
As you improve on the drills I've provided above, you can then start to incorporate further golf-specific exercises that Frank provides in the video below. Remember, it's important to own your movements in a controlled setting prior to attempting the more dynamic movements he provides.
About the Contributor
Hey guys, thanks for reading! I'm Kirk.
I am the Head Performance Coach at Golf & Body NYC. My goal is to help my clients play better and enjoy the game for a lifetime. Prior to that, I was a Strength and Conditioning Coach at Penn State University where, along with volleyball and soccer, I worked with the men's and women's golf teams.
Like you, I want to be healthy, strong, look good at the beach and play great golf. Along the way, however, there's been aches and pains, missed workouts, and bad rounds. So I've dedicated myself to learning as much about golf, fitness and nutrition as I can. I want to be a little better tomorrow than I am today and this is where I want to share with you what I learn.