Com­mon golf swing faults

Inside Golf - - Instruction - Tony Wells Tony Wells is an AA rated Aus­tralian PGA Pro­fes­sional and Di­rec­tor of In­struc­tion at Aus­tralasian Golf Academy lo­cated at the Park­wood In­ter­na­tional Golf Club on the Gold Coast. Tony works with stu­dents at ev­ery level from new golfers to tourna

AT t he Aus­tralasian Golf Academy, we see many dif­fer­ent swing styles. Our ex­per­tise is in recog­nis­ing the dif­fer­ences be­tween these faults, and then help­ing de­velop plans for im­prove­ment.

This month, we’ll dis­cuss the two most com­mon swing faults by golfers.

S Pos­ture at setup: It is easy to spot this poor pos­tured golfer. If you look at their lower back from down-the-line, it has an ex­ces­sive sway­back or cur­va­ture cre­at­ing what we com­monly re­fer to as the “S-pos­ture” or lower crossed syn­drome. In photo 1, you can see the cur­va­ture in the lower back (red line), the rounded shoul­ders or kyphotic ap­pear­ance and the tight right arm, high right wrist po­si­tion( yel­low line) and tight neck mus­cles . Note how the chin is tucked into the chest (green cir­cle).

This pos­ture is a com­mon setup fault of golfers, and some golfers ac­tu­ally po­si­tion them­selves this way on pur­pose be­cause they have been told to “stick your butt out at ad­dress”, how­ever by set­ting up this way, they are putting their lower backs in jeop­ardy. Lower back pain is one of the most com­mon com­plaints of all golfers. You can ac­tu­ally stick your butt out at set up with­out arch­ing your back if you just hinge from your hips and keep your spine in a neu­tral sta­ble pos­ture. Ob­vi­ously, this re­quires good core strength and proper sta­bi­liza­tion in the lum­bar spine.

Un­for­tu­nately, not all golfers can eas­ily fix this fault, due to the phys­i­cal lim­i­ta­tions that will ac­com­pany this fault. S pos­ture setup re­lates to tight hip flex­ors (the mus­cle at the front of your hips) and poor aware­ness or ac­ti­va­tion in the deep lower ab­dom­i­nal mus­cles. This adap­ta­tion oc­curs from pro­longed static pos­tures (i.e. sit­ting and a seden­tary life­style). The end re­sult is that the pelvis tilts and cre­ates a very un­sta­ble po­si­tion for the lower back.

Kypho­sis of the shoul­der gir­dle is the re­sult of poor life­style habits and seden­tary­ism, and is of­ten seen in those golfers who sit at com­put­ers for lengthy pe­ri­ods or who travel fre­quently. This cre­ates weak­ness in the mus­cles that sup­port the shoul­der blades and neck. Mus­cles in the chest and up­per neck tighten up con­sid­er­ably, cre­at­ing stiff­ness and loss of ex­ten­sion in the mid back (tho­racic spine) pre­vent­ing the golfer from achiev­ing an op­ti­mal pos­ture at setup and there­fore do not al­low the body to turn in the cor­rect di­rec­tion (whilst main­tain­ing good pos­tural shape) and the arms to func­tion cor­rectly.

If you have an “S Pos­ture”, it very easy to elim­i­nate. All you need to do is per­form stretches to help lengthen your hip flex­ors and lower back mus­cles, and per­form ex­er­cises that help de­velop strength in the ab­dom­i­nals and glute mus­cles. Once these mus­cle im­bal­ances are cor­rected, work on de­vel­op­ing strength in a sta­ble neu­tral lower back pos­ture.

Loss of Spine An­gle (Shape): This is sim­ply any sig­nif­i­cant al­ter­ation from your body’s orig­i­nal set up an­gles (pos­tural shape) dur­ing your golf swing. Photo 2 shows the typ­i­cal look of a golfer who loses spine an­gle or al­ters their body lev­els. Note how the body has gone around (yel­low line), low across the chest po­si­tion of the arms (blue line), the spine an­gle straight­ened from where it started at ad­dress in the orig­i­nal pos­tural an­gle (green line). From this po­si­tion the club will work out­wards, the arms will move out first and then try to get in­side and shal­low on the way down. The clas­sic “over the top/ out­side in move”.

A com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor in good play­ers is that they main­tain this spine an­gle from the start (what we call ‘more over the ball’) , this cre­ates more room to fit the arms com­ing down. Body an­gle stays over and the arms drop

When the spine an­gle changes on the back­swing, the body will turn first, mak­ing the hands and arms move more out and steeper at the start of the down­swing.

Again this swing fault can be due to phys­i­cal lim­i­ta­tions. These range from poor flex­i­bil­ity in the tho­racic spine, poor ro­ta­tion range in the neck and poor range of mo­tion in the shoul­der joints to name a few. To cor­rect this, you will need to un­der­take a se­ries of spe­cific ex­er­cises tar­get­ing pos­tural change and flex­i­bil­ity through the spine and mo­tor pat­tern cor­rec­tion drills.

Photo 2

Photo 1

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