The key to great ball striking is to have a proper golf swing sequence starting at the transition of the downswing.
I touched on this a bit in an article entitled Do You Want More Distance? You Need to Do This; golf swing speed relies in part on an efficient golf swing.
An efficient golf swing sequence transfers the power generated by the legs through the body and to the club head in such a way that little energy is lost in the process.
Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) and others have used 3-D motion capture software to track the movements and the rotational speed of many professional and top amateur golfers. By placing sensors on the hips, torso, arms, and club of the golfers, the changes in motion, speed, and body angles can be tracked during the golf swing.
The data shows that regardless of the golfer’s swing or body type, there was one common aspect of golf swing sequence that all good golfers possess.
At the point of the golf swing transition at the top of the backswing, the pelvis moves first in the downswing followed by the torso, then the arms, and lastly the club.
Regardless if the golfer is John Daly, Justin Thomas, Ryan Moore, Rory McIlory, Adam Scott or Tiger Woods, the transitional golf swing sequence works the same way and in the same order.
This golf swing sequence is commonly called the kinematic sequence. As I try to keep the jargon to a minimum in my articles, I will continue to call it the golf swing sequence.
For the same reason, I’m not going to include graphs of the post-transitional golf swing sequence. I find them a little confusing because of the way the graphs represent the rotational directions and the transitions in the swing.
If you would like to see the kinematic sequence graphs, visit the Titleist Performance Institution (TPI) website.
Golf Swing Sequence Breakdowns
Three major factors can lead to efficiency issues in the golf swing sequence. These are:
- Poor Mechanics
- Poor Equipment
- Poor Conditioning
The best way to evaluate these factors is to see a club fitter, have a swing instructor or TPI fitness professional use video to isolate mechanical breakdowns in your golf swing, and have a TPI swing instructor or fitness professional use a physical screen to identify any limitations in mobility or stability of your body.
Why Fitness is Important to the Golf Swing Sequence
The golf swing sequence sounds like a swing mechanic problem. It is in part, but the underlying aspect of performing the sequence correctly is related to fitness.
How the Sequence Works
TPI likes to use the analogy of 4 sprinters in the blocks of a 100-meter dash to explain the golf swing sequence. The first runner takes off followed closely by the second, third, and fourth runners. The runner behind grabs the one in front, slowing down that runner while increasing his own speed at the others expense.
I want to go old-school and use roller derby for an analogy.
Are you still there?
Yes, roller derby.
Not the blocking and jamming defensive part of roller derby.
But the more offensive part.
While the big girls are down on the inside mixing it up. Three or four other’s are linking up a like a chain.
Picture four roller derby girls linking themselves up like this.
The four derby girls are lined up in a staggered row, the lead girl starts forward and picks up speed.In the golf swing, she is the pelvis.
In the golf swing, she is the pelvis.
As she gains speed the second derby girl in the row (the torso) uses the first girl as leverage to pull herself forward.
As the torso pulls on the pelvis, the pelvis slows down and the torso gains speed.
The arms use the torso in the same fashion and finally, the clubhead is whipped forward at a speed greater than any of the others in the chain.
In the same way the blocker or pivot skater in roller derby uses the whip to accelerate the jammer past the wall of defenders to score.
This makes more sense to me as an analogy because sprinters aren’t allowed to grab each other.
If the four roller derby girls work together and use each other in the correct order, the jammer will accelerate faster.
However, if the sequence misfires or the timing is off, the jammer isn’t going to have the speed to get by the blocker and she will end up over the railing and into the crowd.
Just like your golf ball will end up out of bounds if your golf swing sequence doesn’t go in the right order or is inefficient at transferring power to the clubhead.
Mobility & Stability
The fitness aspect of the golf swing sequence is that your body needs to be able to move properly to keep the sequence in order and working efficiently.
First, you need to be able separate movement between the pelvis and the torso.
If the pelvis and hips can’t rotate toward the target while the torso remains stable at the start of the golf swing transition, then the golf swing sequence already is already inefficient at the start of the downswing.
If the hip and pelvis have poor mobility or the core is weak the pelvis and torso usually rotate in tandem causing a severe loss in power.
This brings us to the second possible cause for an inefficient sequence.
The core needs to be strong for two reasons.
Although the core does not generate power in the golf swing, it does transfer the energy from the lower body to the upper body.
Weaknesses in the core will cause a loss of power and possibility delay the rotation of the upper body causing further swing sequence inefficiencies.
The core also acts as a stabilizer for the pelvis and hips during rotation. For instance, many people can’t rotate their hips without moving them laterally, or rotating the torso at the same time.
But, if someone grabs them by the sides and holds the torso in place they can rotate their hips freely. This is a stability issue and the core needs to be strengthened.
Again, a weak core will cause a loss of power and upset the timing of the golf swing sequence.
The mobility of the T-spine and shoulders is important to keep the hands high during the beginning of the downswing. The longer the hands and clubhead can remain back in the swing the more speed that will be generated at impact with the ball.
The wrists are also key in holding back the club head release until late in the golf swing sequence. Professional golfer’s keep their wrist cocked late in the golf swing and one of the reasons they hit the ball much further than amateur golfers.
As you can see as important as proper swing training and having golf clubs that are properly fit to your swing are, it is also very important to remove as many physical limitations as possible to improve your golf swing sequence.
Although the guide below was developed for those that have early release, scooping, or the casting swing characteristic, the exercises listed in the guide will help with lower & upper body separation, torso rotation, core development, and wrist mobility.
Click the button below to download the free guide!
All good golfers have an efficient golf swing sequence that maximizes power and provides consistent ball striking. Regardless of the swing mechanics, the common denominator is a good kinematic sequence during the backswing/downswing transition.
The rotation of the pelvis starts the downswing and is closely followed by the torso, arms, and eventually the clubhead. Even though the pelvis starts the golf swing, the torso uses the core to latch onto the pelvis and transfer the rotational momentum to itself so it can also be utilized by the arms to slingshot the clubhead into the ball at impact.
Think of the kinematic sequence as a staggered line of runners grabbing the runner in front of them slowing down their competitor while adding momentum to themselves only to be seized in a similar fashion until the last runner can use all of the momentum of the opponents in front of him to surge ahead to the finish line.
Or the whip-like action of skaters forming a chain and allowing the skaters behind to use the one in front to accelerate themselves forward, such that the speed of the last skater is much faster than any one skater can move down the rink by their own power.
Any inefficiencies in the sequence will result in a loss of speed, regardless of strength or power in any one segment of the sequence.
This is why it is important to know the mechanics of the golf swing, have clubs that properly fit your swing, and to improve your mobility & stability and increase the rotational forces and speed in your golf swing.
Do You Need An Assessment?
If you think a mobility & stability assessment would be beneficial to you, I have a swing analysis program that will identify any physical limitations and swing characteristics that you may have. Click the button below to learn more about the TPI Swing Assessment Program.
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