Is Your Lower Body Costing You Distance? The Lower Quarter Rotation Test
When rotation is mentioned in the golf swing, most people think about shoulder rotation. But lower body rotation is also contributing to the overall amount of rotation.
Without lower body rotation the likelihood of lateral motion in the swing increases. Excessive lateral movement in the golf swing, such as Sway or Slide, can cause you a slew of swing issues and poor golf shots.
Although the lower body doesn’t contribute as much rotation to the golf swing as the upper body without a few degrees of lower body turn, the length of your backswing will be considerably less.
At impact, the lack of lower body rotation will decrease your swing speed and power output.
And during the follow through, the lack of lower body rotation will cause you to slide toward the target and slice the ball. It can also cause the arms to get ahead of the body leading to the chicken wing swing characteristic similar to the cover photo above.
To test if you have acceptable lower body rotation, use the lower quarter rotation test.
Tenth in a Series
The lower quarter rotation test is the tenth post in a series of mobility screen articles for golfers.
Further down in this article there is also a free Mobility Screening Sheet that you can download and track your results as you go through the whole mobility screening process.
The links to the other mobility screens are listed below.
Objective of the Lower Quarter Rotation Test
The lower quarter rotation test evaluates the amount of rotation in the lower body and hip mobility.
You often hear the terms internal and external rotation, and the lower quarter rotation test evaluates your hip and tibial internal and external rotation.
Internal rotation is when you close the gap between your body and the joint, and external rotation is when you open the gap.
For a right-handed golfer, during your backswing, you’re internally rotating your right hip. During the follow through you’re externally rotating your right hip. So, during the backswing, you’re externally rotating the left and internally rotating the left during the follow through.
The lack of lower body rotation during the swing makes it more likely for excessive lateral movement, and that isn’t good.
Since the lower leg extremities are free to move, the lower quarter rotation test also evaluates the internal and external rotation of the tibia and ankles.
How to Perform the Lower Quarter Rotation Test
The lower quarter rotation test evaluates if your lower body rotates less than, equal to, or more than 60-degrees.
As a side note, It’s easier if you have another person judge how much you rotate since during the test you should remain looking straight ahead and not down.
To tell if you rotate your hips 60-degrees or not, we use a 6-iron and another club or an alignment rod to make a 60-degree angle on the floor. Most 6-irons have a lie angle of 60-degrees more or less. A degree or two isn’t going to make much difference, so precision in the setup isn’t necessary.
Once the clubs are set up on the floor, you’ll then step perpendicular to the club shaft with your right foot, lifting your left foot and placing your toes near the arch of your right foot. This helps you keep your balance. Look straight ahead with your spine erect and your hands resting on your hips.
You will then rotate to the right to test your hip internal rotation during the backswing. To judge the rotation, you will be comparing the shaft of the alignment rod to your hip placement, using an imaginary line drawn across the front of your hip bones.
Did you turn less than, equal to, or more than 60-degrees? Those are the three outcomes. Ideally, it’s best to turn more than 60-degree.
Change feet and again turn right, this time testing the external rotation of your left leg during your backswing.
Now you need to change the clubs around and check your internal and external rotation of your legs during the follow through.
Detailed steps are listed below and shown in the video.
- Use the video below to see how to construct the angle with the clubs.
- With the alignment rod to the right, step up to the club shaft with your right foot.
- Place the left toe near the arch of your right foot for balance.
- Stand upright, looking straight ahead, with your hands on your hips
- Turn your upper body to the right, you can also turn your head, but keep looking straight out in front of your body.
- Have a friend see if your hips rotated less than, equal to, or more than the alignment rod on the floor. You can put another alignment rod on your hip bones to help judge.
- That’s internal rotation of the right leg.
- Change the position of your feet, left foot at the club shaft and your right toe by the arch for balance.
- Do the same rotation to the right. This is the external rotation of the left leg.
- On the TMF Mobility Sheet, I use backswing and downswing instead of all that internal, external terminology.
- So, mark if you did or didn’t rotate 60-degrees or more on your backswing with the right and left leg.
- Turn the club and alignment rod around to measure the downswing.
- Go through the same procedures rotating to the left
- Mark your results on the mobility sheet that you used from the nine other mobility screens, or if this is your first test, download the TMF Mobility Screening Sheet below.
- Use the hip bones to gauge the rotation, not the waist.
- Continue to keep an upright posture and look straight ahead; you can rotate your head but look forward when doing so.
- Keep your toe perpendicular to the club shaft. Don’t turn the toe to gain rotation.
- Don’t over-rotate and cramp your side or back. In other words, don’t force it.
TMF Mobility Screening Sheet
You can download a copy of the TMF Mobility Screening Sheet immediately by pressing the button below.
I’ll explain how to mark up the sheet after you watch the lower quarter rotation test video.
On the Screening Sheet
I realize what we are measuring can be confusing. This is why I changed the terminology on my screening sheet.
The best way to think about what you’re testing is the direction you’re rotating. Are you rotating like during your backswing? Or is the motion your downswing and follow through?
I always start with the alignment rod to the backswing side depending on if you’re a right or left handed player.
Your job during the test is to keep looking straight ahead with your spine upright. Have your friend do all of the comparisons. Have her determine if your hips rotated equal to or more than 60-degrees. Or, if the hips didn’t turn 60-degrees.
Circle the correct response on the mobility screening sheet.
At the end of the test, you should have “Yes” circled four times in the Lower Quarter Rotation section. Two for the right side and two for the left side.
Below are some exercises that will help internal and external rotation of the lower body if you didn’t quite make it to 60-degrees.
Reverse Clam Shells
Side-lying Internal & External Hip Rotation
The Lower Quarter Rotation Test evaluates your ability to rotate your lower body including the ankles, legs, and hips. Use this test as a baseline before doing a golf conditioning program, to see if you need to add more rotation from your lower body, reduce the chance of injury, or as part of a golf conditioning correction program.
This is the tenth of sixteen mobility screens.
You can read more about why mobility screens are a vital part of any golf conditioning program in Put the Horse in Front of the Cart and Get With the Fitness Program. You can find the other mobility screens at the bottom of that post or from the links at the beginning of this article.
If you think someone else might be interested in these mobility screens, use the social share buttons along the left side of the article to share with your friends. If you would like to follow me on social media, I’m on the sites below.
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