I’m sure you have heard about the X-factor in the golf swing. It’s a term that seems to have run its course and is rarely mentioned anymore in golf articles; mainly I think because it has gotten too technical. If you want to get all nerdy, I have referenced an article published by TPI on the X-factor at the bottom of this post.
The premise behind X-factor is to increase the angle between the shoulders and hips, so when viewed from the top down, a line is drawn parallel to the shoulders and one drawn along the hips forms an X. There is more to it than that, but the larger the angle between the shoulders and hips the more power generated.
This article will focus on one of the factors, hip separation or lower body separation, as a primary method to increase clubhead speed to add power and distance to your golf swing.
Lower Body Separation
Lower body separation is a better term than hip separation. Although the hips play a major part in lower body separation, we are more concerned with the gross differential movement of the lower body relative to the upper body.
In simpler terms, can you rotate your lower body while your upper body remains relatively stationary?
On the downswing, if you can turn your lower body while your upper body (torso) hangs back there will come a point when you can’t resist the force, and your upper body will have to follow your pelvis and accelerate through the golf ball.
Increasing the separation between the lower and upper body, and the faster the golf swing will be at impact with all other factors remaining the same.
Amateur golfers will pick up a lot of driving yards when they learn to separate the rotation of the lower and upper body. The two images below show an amateur golfer and Rory at impact. The amateur is me.
Notice how much further Rory has rotated his lower body. His hips are facing the target, and you can see both hips from behind. My hips have barely gone past parallel, and you can’t see my left hip.
The issue is my body didn’t have the mobility or core stability to separately rotate my lower body while my upper body remained behind.
Simply being able to rotate my lower body and separate that movement from my torso would significantly increase my power output.
Pelvic & Torso Rotation Screens
The pelvic and torso rotation screens are methods used to quickly evaluate if you have the ability to separate rotation between your lower and upper body.
The links below will direct you to articles explaining and showing you how to do the mobility screens.
The causes of a limited pelvic rotation screen result in the inability to turn your lower body without moving the upper body come down to several issues:
- Poor thoracic & lumbar spine mobility
- Muscular restrictions of the torso and core
- Poor hip mobility
- Lack of core stability
- Poor coordination
It’s beyond the scope of this article to discuss these causes in more detail. But the mobility screen articles linked above do discuss each of these causes.
Lower Body Rotation Exercises
Here are three quick and easy exercises to help you with lower body rotation.
The first is called the supported hip twister.
Supported Hip Twister
Take a driver and turn it upside down, so you are holding on to the clubhead.
Get into golf posture and put the handle of the driver out in front of you like a support.
The purpose of holding on to the driver is to keep your upper body quiet and help resist the urge to rotate your torso.
Now slowly rotate your hips both to the right and the left. Go slowly at first.
Don’t rotate your torso; your shoulders should remain straight.
Another common mistake is to move your hips toward and away from the target. Imagine standing between two vertical alignment rods placed at the edge of your feet, and when you rotate, you can’t touch either alignment rod. Your hips should rotate and not move side to side.
Below is a video, of the supported hip twister. Practice the exercise much slower than she is twisting. Get your form down before you add speed.
Supported Stork Turns
Very similar to the hip twister, the difference is that the stork turn is done on one foot.
Again, do this exercise slowly at first, it will help you get the feel of muscles needed for lower body separation. Sometimes the cause is a lack of coordination and slow movements aid the body to fire the correct muscles.
Planks help core stability.
Are you bored with normal planks?
Here is a video that has quite a few plank variations completed one after the other in a fun (not) series.
Movement planks are very useful, but be careful to keep your body straight and your butt down.
Watch all of these variations, and you will see that planks beside being one of the best core exercises can be used in combination to increase the difficulty of the exercise and make the workout more enjoyable, well maybe not enjoyable, but more interesting.
Let me know how well did the spiderman planks. They are hard to do and keep form.
These exercises are part of a progression, they each have modifications that will make them harder to do, and help you separate rotation between your lower and upper body.
You Guessed It
As you guessed, there are upper body separation exercises as well.
Most people have a much harder time moving the lower body while holding the upper body still. That’s the reason I started with them but will include some torso rotation exercises down the road and add links to those posts here.
Simple Exercises That Create Power
These simple lower body separation exercises will help you create a lot of power in your golf swing. Don’t discount how easy they look until you try them.
Learning to separate movement between your lower and upper body will add more power to your golf swing.
We all want to hit the golf ball farther and in the end, it comes down to increasing swing speed. For more exercises to help you increase your swing speed, you can read How to Improve Your Golf Swing Speed Training.
The best way to improve your golf swing and hit the ball farther is to improve your mobility. Yes, swing instruction is important, but improving your mobility before you see a swing instructor will make her job much easier and the results will come much quicker.
Additional Article on X-factor
If you want to know more about X-factor essentials, here’s a link to the TPI website.
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