Shoulder position key component to swing results
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Nearly 90 percent of all golfers don’t get the shoulder turn they need. One major reason is poor upper-body posture.
If you’re having trouble getting the shoulder to turn the way you would like or if, on the backswing, your arms tend to lift and the club tends to go across the line, read on. This could be the answer to your problem. It was for me.
At one time I had a lot of trouble with my club lifting and going across the line rather than being pointed at the target at the top of the backswing. My right shoulder was too far forward, and my right shoulder blade wouldn’t rotate back.
In short, I had a problem with upper-body posture. As I got my shoulder blade to set back and pull down, the club went more around me and my backswing position was better.
This problem shows up in a lot of people. Here’s how to get it right:
First, in the setup position, the muscles in your neck area should be relaxed so that your arms can swing and the shoulders can rotate independently of your neck. To be able to do that, the “ lat” muscles (the ones below the shoulder blades) should be engaged in pulling your shoulder blades downward. If not, your shoulders will rotate forward and the mid-back will have a “rounding” to it.
It also is critically important that your mid-back area (from the base of your neck to just below the shoulder blades) does not have this rounding to it at address.
About 80 percent of the rotation in your upper body comes from this area also called the “mid-thoracic back.” To feel your lats engage, hold your hands up as if you were being held at gunpoint in a stick-up (see picture, top left). Then drop your arms and keep the lats engaged. Bend from the hips, making sure that you do not lose that posture position. You now are in a position to reach for the ball with your arms and not your shoulders (see picture, top middle).
If you let your shoulders round forward, you will put your back into flexion. This might feel comfortable and it might even feel athletic. But it will be wrong. It will destroy the base of your upper body (the shoulders), limit your flexibility on the backswing and cause other things to fall apart in the swing.
Ben Hogan knew the importance of this. The way he got the lats engaged was by turning his elbows under and putting his elbows in against his sides. As he went back and through, that made it much easier for his shoulders to rotate properly.
Two other areas of posture concern are hips and trunk, and then balance and lower body. We will discuss those areas in future articles.
Regardless of whether you are trying to use big muscles in the golf swing or use the golf club, if your upper body is not set up in the right position your body will not be able to create the best possible stabilizing positions and base.
Proper posture in the upper body will free your arms to create clubhead speed that ultimately will create distance without necessarily sacrificing accuracy.