Loss Of Posture - Is This Swing Characteristic Costing You Distance?

To have a consistent golf game, you need to maintain posture throughout the golf swing. 

The loss of posture swing characteristic is going to cause you to miss-hit golf balls, hit off-line shots, give you poor distance control with your irons, and beside wide right and left golf shots a huge loss of distance off the tee.

Think about it, how can you repeatedly return the clubface square to the golf ball when your body is moving all over the place?

You can’t.

Sure, at times, your hand-eye coordination will connect. It’s the blind squirrel finding the nut once in a while concept.

You’ll hit a good shot here and there, but you can’t do it consistently when you lose posture in the backswing.

Loss of Posture

Loss of posture is a swing fault. In fact, it is the most common swing fault among amateur golfers right along with Early Extension, which by definition is a form of losing posture.

Golf fitness professionals don’t like to call swing characteristics swing faults because people can overcome the movement pattern and play good golf. However, loss of posture is different; it is hard to stand up out of a shot and play consistently good golf.

Loss of posture occurs when there’s an alteration of the original set-up angles during the golf swing. I’ll show you what angles I’m referring to using photos later in the article. 

Generally, the loss of posture is caused by a change in the spine angle.

Loss of posture brings about two typical mis-hits, these are the block, where you leave the ball out to the right (right-handed player) or a hook. Missing both to the right and left is especially frustrating to players as there’s no way to compensate for a typical miss.

Not only is direction a problem but mis-hit golf balls also lose a lot of distance. Drop a golf ball across the face of your driver, you’ll find only a small area where the golf ball jumps off the clubface. Same with mis-hit golf shots, the golf ball isn’t going get that extra jump and won’t travel as far.

Loss of posture involves changes in the angles of the major mobile joints of the body, the ankles, knees, hips, and thoracic spine. Because a change of angle in any of those joints can cause loss of posture there can be many causes.

To determine the most likely cause, you need to analyze your swing as well as evaluate your joint mobility and stability.

As a bonus to you, I’ve created a Free Guide that lists exercises you can perform to correct the physical limitations that can cause the loss of posture in your golf swing.

The exercises included in the guide are linked to the Titleist Performance Insitute (TPI) video library so you can correctly perform each exercise.

Free Guide

Loss of posture is a very common swing fault that makes it hard to hit the ball consistently in the middle of the clubface. The free guide provides exercises that can correct mobility limitations that cause this swing characteristic. Fix these limitations and you will hit the ball straighter, longer, and lower your scores.

Click to Download the Guide

What is Loss of Posture?

Loss of posture is any change or alteration in the body’s set-up angles during the golf swing. From the backswing to the impact position.

Most often, the spine angle changes by becoming more upright during the backswing. However, some golfers lowering or dip during the swing.

When body angles change, it’s up to hand-eye coordination to get the clubhead back square and impact the ball in the middle of the clubface.

It’s impossible to hit the ball consistently when you are relying on the hands to correctly compensate every swing.

The easiest way to understand the angles I am talking about is to view a video and trace the body angles at the address position and see if the angles change during the swing.

You’ll see how to draw these lines in the video screenshots below.

How Prevalent is Loss of Posture?

Loss of posture is the most common swing characteristic that amateur golfers exhibit. 

Titleist Performance Institute surveyed almost 500 golfers, and 64.3 percent of these golfers loss their posture.

In a way, it makes sense, retaining good swing posture involves many sections of the body so more golfers will have at least one of the limitations that cause loss of posture.


Percentage of Amateur Golfers that Lose their Posture

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How to Tell if You Have Loss of Posture

The easiest way to determine if you lose or maintain posture in the golf swing is to view a video of your swing from the down-the-line view. 

It is hard to tell by looking at the raw video, so upload the video into a graphic design program that will allow you to draw lines. 

  • First, at the address position draw a line from the middle of the knee to the center of the ankle.
  • Then draw a line from the knee to the hip bone.
  • Continue this line from the hip to the base of the neck. 
  • You can add a perpendicular line to the spine at the top of the shoulders. 
  • Now advance the video to the top of the backswing. 
  • If the lines are still on the shin, thigh, and spine so far you are good. 
  • If not, then you have the loss of posture swing characteristic. 

See the photos below. 

Loss of Posture in the Backswing

As you can see in the first photo, I’ve added red lines to my shin, thigh, spine, and a rough guess on my shoulder plane at my address position. 

In the second photo (bottom photo on mobile devices), I’ve advanced the video to the top of my backswing and added the green lines. My shin is a little off as I seem to have straightened my back leg. 

Straightening the back leg is to be expected during the backswing. A little more flex would’ve been better, however.

The most extreme change is my spine angle. It’s obvious that I’ve stood more upright during my backswing. Also, notice that the position I’m in exhibits the Flat Shoulder Plane swing characteristic. 

Continuing with the Loss of Posture Evaluation

From the top of the backswing, advance the video to the impact position and recheck the lines. 

As you can see, my posture never returned to the starting position, my upper body is relatively upright compared to the set-up and my arms and hands had to compensate to get the clubface to the ball.

My lower body has moved slightly but not to the extent that my upper body moved. The problem is most likely a hip or T-spine issue and a physical screen will be needed to see if it’s one or both of these areas causing the loss of posture.

My Real Swing – What Say You?

Below is my real swing as of May 2015. The three images shown are my address position, at the top of the backswing, and impact position, respectively. 

Do I exhibit the Loss of Posture swing characteristic?

No Loss of Posture, But Something Else Is Going On

I think I stay on the lines pretty well.

Yes, as you can see in the second photo, I could lose some weight, and I have, but as far as loss of posture I’m on my lines at the top of the backswing.

In the third photo, my angles are still pretty good. But if you look at my shin and shoulders, especially the neck area, I’m a little off the lines. The shin has moved because I am up on my toe and not back on the heel. But there is no doubt, I have moved closer to the ball. 

That is because I have the early extension swing characteristic. In this swing characteristic, I move my backend closer to the ball, reducing the distance between my body and the ball.

For some reason I don’t stand up to give my arms room to swing, instead, I scrunch up, round my shoulders and lower my head to get my arms through the ball.

In reality, early extension is a loss of posture swing characteristic. 

Let’s Look at Rory McIlroy’s Swing

Ok, enough with the amateurs, let’s see a professional’s swing. Here is Rory’s swing courtesy of TBS. Same swing sequence, address, at the top of the backswing, and impact positions.

Is It Similar To My Positions?

Rory’s lower lines are very similar to mine. Rory is a little more upright, but that is because he has a driver and not a 6-iron.

The first and second photos are very close, his back is facing the target more at the top of his backswing, again he has a driver and not an iron.

The real difference is at the impact position. Rory’s hips and shoulders have rotated much further than mine. His neck is bent quite a bit too, but it looks more natural since he has turned through towards the target.

His lower leg has moved forward due to the weight shift and he is on his toe instead of his heel.

Rory’s swing is a good example of how to stay on set-up in posture.

Comparing yourself to videos of professionals also reveals what you need to work on. At impact, my hips and shoulders have not rotated toward the target. The lines are on the right shoulder and hip.

Compare that to Rory’s swing and the lines are on his butt and right along the back of his spine. Perfect.

Swing Results When You Have Loss of Posture

There are two common swing results of loss of posture.

These are a block and hook. Loss of posture also affects timing, balance, and rhythm.

As you can imagine, add all of those issues up and it kills your distance.

The swing characteristic causes the body to be out of position and leaves it up to the hands to square up the clubface. Sometimes the hands leave the club open resulting in a slice or block, other times they rotate too fast, closing the clubface and the result is a pull or hook.

Hitting one shot right and the next left will drive a golfer crazy. 

If you’re trying to fix your swing what do you do? Fix the shots to the right or those to the left? 

The answer is work on your body. Chances are your swing is fine if you can keep it on the same swing plane. 

Physical Causes of Loss of Posture

About anything.

I’m not kidding.

In order to not lose posture, you need good ankle mobility, as well as mobility in the hips, thoracic spine, and shoulders. Besides being able to rotate properly, those mobile joints also need stability while they move. Don’t forget you also need a decent kinematic sequence to move all of the parts in the correct order.

So as you can see, there could be many problems and improve any joint mobility and stability will most likely help your golf swing.

These physical causes will be discussed more below.

Physical Screens

Note: I will link the physical screens to an article once I have published it.

Overhead Deep Squat Test

The overhead deep squat is one of the most telling physical screens. If you’re unable to do a full deep squat with your arms straight above your head, while keeping the heels on the ground, it will be almost impossible to make a full backswing turn without losing posture.

For the loss of posture characteristic, the overhead squat tests the mobility of the thoracic spine and flexibility of the lat muscles. Any limitations can force the golfer to change their spinal posture during the golf swing. 

Toe Touch Test

The toe touch test evaluates the mobility of the lower back and hip. And the flexibility of the hamstrings. Mostly we’ve been talking about the upper back but, it is possible that limited lower back mobility will stop you from finding a neutral spine position and reduce rotation of the spine. 

For more on the Toe Touch see this article, Can You Touch Your Toes?

Torso, Pelvic and Seated Truck Rotation

If the lower and upper body can’t move separately, the only way to turn is to alter your posture to get the club back far enough to get any distance on your shots. 

These three tests evaluate the mobility and stability of the lower and upper sections of the body. You can see how to do them by following the links below.

Pelvic Tilt & Bridge with Leg Extension Test

These tests are needed to test the strength and stability of your core. To core needs to be strong to stabilize the spine, and the pelvis needs to articulate during the swing to keep the body in the same set-up posture throughout the swing sequence.

90/90 Test and the Lower Quarter Rotation Test

For your body to rotate around a stable spinal posture, muscles need to have the flexibility to get the club into the correct positions without changing posture. Particularly the hips and shoulders need to move smoothly and cannot be stiff or inflexible. 

Other Possible Causes of Loss of Posture

Having bad swing tempo can affect the body causing it to lose posture.

Improperly fit clubs that are too long or heavy can also cause the body change the angles during the swing. 

Taking an odd backswing or downswing can cause the body to change its angles when it tries to get the club back on the correct path to hit the ball. 

Want to Know What Mobility Limitations You Have?

Get a TPI Body-Swing Screening

It’s best if you have a certified Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) Fitness Professional show you how to perform the physical screens and observe the tests.

You can leave a comment below or contact me and I can direct you to the TPI Fitness Professional nearest to you. 

I also have a Swing Analysis Program where you send me videos of your swing and I evaluate them for swing characteristics, send you the results, and provide you with exercises to correct the limitations.

Or, if you live in Upstate New York I have an in Home TPI Screening Service.

Learn more by clicking the buttons below.

Free Guide!

If you have Loss of Posture, don’t worry.

There are exercises that will improve your mobility, flexibility, and strength. I have prepared a free guide listing the exercises that will help you!

The guide lists the exercises that will help you correct limitations causing your mobility issues.

Each exercise is linked to a video to show you the proper way to do the exercise.

Click the button below and enter your first name and e-mail address and I’ll e-mail you the Free Loss of Posture Exercise Guide! 

Click to Download the Guide

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Photo Credits

The cover photo is by Neville Wootton and Flickr.com.

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