The pelvic rotation test is the second part of a series of articles on adding power to the golf swing by disassociating movement between the upper and lower body.
In the first article, Increase Power in Your Golf Swing by Disassociation? Part 1 – Torso Rotation Test, we evaluated your ability to rotate your torso without moving your lower body. Also included in the article were exercises to help you improve torso disassociation.
In this article, we learn how to perform the pelvic rotation test and see how well you can move your lower body while keeping the upper body still. Additional exercises are also shown below.
If you didn’t read the torso rotation test article, you may not have heard or completely understand what disassociation is in the golf swing.
You may be more familiar with the term X-factor.
X-factor is the angular difference between shoulder and pelvic rotation in the golf swing. Although frequently measured at the top of the backswing, the greatest angle should be created during shoulder lag at the start of the downswing. In the perfect downswing, the hips and pelvis should rotate toward the target before the shoulders start to rotate.
That movement creates the greatest angle or largest X-factor in the golf swing.
More potential power is created in the golf swing as this angle increases.
In effect, the lower body rotation is creating tension on the upper body, the more stress the upper body can withstand (a larger X-factor) the more force can be applied during the swing.
What is Power?
So how does this force add power to the golf swing?
Power = Work / Time
So, increasing the work output, or swing faster will increase your power, thus the farther the golf ball will fly (all other things remaining the same).
Work in physics terms isn’t discussed often (or at all) in golf literature. But work is defined as force multiplied by distance.
By replacing the work variable with its equivalent (force X distance) the equation is more understandable.
Power = Force X Distance / Time
To increase power in the golf swing you need to increase the force, make a longer swing, or decrease the time it takes you to swing from the top of the backswing to impact with the golf ball. Again, all other factors remaining the same.
Why All The Nerdness?
All of that nerdy physics might be off-topic to the Pelvic Rotation Test, however, it’s important to know all of the factors that will increase your power and give you more distance off the tee.
It’s also important to know that Force can be broken down into more common terms.
Force = Mass X Acceleration
But remember, it isn’t the mass of the person swing the golf club (unless you’re hitting the ball with your body). Instead, it’s the mass of the object hitting the ball, in other words, the club. But there’s a trade-off here, the heavier the club the harder it becomes to move it faster. Most golf club manufacturers believe you can create more force swing a lighter club quicker than a heavier club a bit slower.
I’d love to see data on this if anyone has it or knows a person that is willing to share the data with me.
Want to know more about clubhead speed?
Disassociation Creates More Force & Distance
That was a long story, but an important one to show you that swing faster isn’t the only way to increase distance.
Increasing disassociation will create more force and thus allow you to hit the golf ball farther. To increase the X-factor you need to be able to disassociate the upper and lower body so they can move independently of each other. The torso rotation test evaluates your ability to move the upper body while the lower body is stable.
The more difficult disassociation evaluation is the pelvic rotation test.
Importance of Pelvic Rotation & X-factor Stall
Moving the hips and pelvis toward the golf ball before the shoulders start the downswing is important to create more X-factor and therefore more golf swing force.
I think I just created a new term: X-factor Stall.
In fact, I think I’ll write a whole article on it. I’ve never heard anyone talk or write about it, so I’ll do some more research and publish an article.
What I’m talking about is the lack of hip rotation at impact. Sure we’ve all heard about the importance of opening your hips toward or pass the target at impact.
But what happens if you don’t?
You lose your X-factor, it stalls at impact if you don’t continue to rotate your hips and open up your pelvis toward the target.
You’ve created this X-factor force during the downswing but the X-factor is just as important all the way through the swing. You need to continue to add force at impact. Lower body rotation needs to continue adding force to the golf swing before, at, and after impact.
Otherwise, you lose power.
Are you losing power at impact?
The pelvic rotation test will evaluate your ability to disassociate and rotate your lower body independently of your upper body. Furthermore, if you can’t disassociate, it will also test if you have a mobility or stability limitation.
Pelvic Rotation Test
As mentioned, the Pelvic Rotation Test will evaluate if you can move your lower body while the upper body stays in place.
If you have problems keeping your upper body still while the lower body rotates, the screen can also help determine if the issue is a mobility problem or if you lack the stability in your upper body and core.
Not sure what mobility and stability are in the golf swing? Follow this link to an article explaining the difference between flexibility, mobility, and stability.
Fifteenth in a Series
The Pelvic Rotation Test is the fifteenth post in a series of mobility screening 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 published mobility screens are listed below. Click here to view them.
How to Perform the Pelvic Rotation Test
It’s best if you can grab your partner or friend to help you with the second part of this test. Tell them not to stress, all they will have to do is hold your shoulders in place.
If you can easily pass the first part of the pelvic rotation test you won’t need any help, but I still think it’s a good idea to try the second part so you can see how much easier it is to rotate your lower body when you have more stability.
Okay, let’s get started on the Pelvic Rotation Test.
- Take your normal 5-iron posture, that athletic position with your ankles and knees slightly bent, hinging at the hip, and arms hanging straight down.
- Your feet should be shoulder-width apart.
- Place your arms across your chest while remaining in golf posture.
- Now, rotate your hips and pelvis to the left and right while keeping your upper body in one place.
- This isn’t a range of motion test, so don’t try to over rotate, only turn 3- to 5-inches. If you can rotate farther great, but the point is to only be able to move your lower body while keeping your upper body still.
- Your hips and pelvis should turn like they are in a barrel. Your hips and upper shouldn’t sway at all.
- If you drew vertical lines on the outside of your hips up to your shoulders, neither should go outside those lines when your hips are rotating.
- In the video, you’ll see that Keith’s hips and upper body move while he turns tries to turn his pelvis. To pass the test, his hips shouldn’t sway and his upper body needs to remain stable and in one place.
- Another reason to have a partner to help you with your screen is your head should remain looking at the imaginary golf ball, not to the side, or looking in a mirror to see if you’re moving your body.
- Again, you only pass this part of the test if the only part of your body moving is your hips and pelvis like they’re in a barrel.
If you passed this part of the test you’re done (I’d still like to see you do the second part of the screen). Mark your mobility screening sheet as explained in the video below. However, if you had some problems, we’ll move on to the second part of the test.
The second part of the test will evaluate the reason you can’t keep still. Whether it’s because you have a hip mobility limitation, or if you need to add upper body and core stability. This part of the pelvic rotation test helps you narrow down possible causes so you can focus on fixing those limitations.
The second part is completed as in the first part with the exception that your partner will be holding your shoulders.
- Get into the same crossed arm stance.
- Have your partner get behind you and grasp your shoulders with their hands firmly. It’s best if their fingers are on the front side of your shoulders and the thumbs on the backside.
- Their job is to hold your upper body in place as much as possible. However, if you have a mobility limitation, it’s unlikely that they will be able to hold your upper body still.
- Even if you passed the first part of this test, you’ll find it easier to rotate with the extra stability of your partner holding your shoulders in place. But for those that didn’t pass the question is:
- Did the extra stability stop the upper body from moving or the lower body from swaying?
- If during the second part of the test, you could keep your upper body still and your lower body rotated without swaying, then you have an upper body (or core) stability issue or you can’t control the muscles responsible to hold your upper body stable. This is a motor control issue.
- However, if the movement continued, then most likely you have a hip mobility limitation.
- Mark your TMF Mobility Screening Sheet as directed in the video.
TMF Mobility Screening Sheet
You can download a copy of the TMF Mobility Screening Sheet by pressing the button below and entering your name and e-mail, and I’ll deliver it to your inbox.
Pelvic Rotation Test Video
The video below shows how to run through the steps of the pelvic rotation test and how to mark your results on the mobility screening sheet.
Corrections for the Pelvic Rotation Test
There are a number of corrective exercises for pelvic rotation because of the failure to perform the test can be a hip mobility limitation or an upper body and core stability problem.
Below are three exercises that should help you improve your pelvic rotation and upper body stability.
The first is an excellent plank workout. I’ve referenced this workout several times, but that is only because I think it’s one of the best.
Why do I think this is an excellent plank video? Because of the transitions between each plank. At first, you may need to rest after 30-seconds, however, the goal should be to transition between each one without rest. Holding form during the transition will help build stability in both the core and upper body.
Clam Shell Progression
There is a progression of clam shell exercises that will improve internal and external rotation of your hips. The first of these exercises is the plain Clam Shell, followed by the Open Clam Shell, and then the Reverse Clam Shell.
Each of those exercises is shown in the videos below.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Tight hip flexors and hamstrings are a common limitation, especially for those people that sit for hours at work or do a lot of driving.
The exercise shown in the video below is one that I do almost every morning while I wait for my coffee water to boil.
I mentioned to Jason Glass that I’ve never been able to bend my knees enough to rest my backside on my heels when kneeling. He suggested doing the elevated hip flexor stretch every day. By doing this exercise I’ve increased my range of motion and movement is much easier.
Before you try the elevated hip flexor, skip the elevated part and do a regular flexor stretch. The keys are to make sure your toes are extended straight out behind you (top of your foot is flat on the floor). Your opposite knee is at 90-degrees, keep your chest facing forward and not down toward the floor.
The most important part and the only way the exercise will work is to rotate your pelvis into a posterior position. Tuck your tailbone under and rotate the top of the pelvis back. This should cause your lower back to straighten out and take out any lower lumbar curve. Try not to bounce, rather, hold the stretch.
You’ll feel this exercise work your hip flexors, quadriceps, and hamstrings.
Stretching the hip flexors will allow your hips more freedom of movement.
The Pelvic Rotation Test evaluates your ability to rotate your lower body while keeping the upper body stable, in a word this is dissociation.
In the golf swing, it’s important to be able to move one part of your body while other parts remain in place, whether for stability to support rotation or to place your body in the correct position during the golf swing.
Use this test as a baseline before doing a golf conditioning program to see if you need to improve your ability to dissociate, and if the cause is a mobility issue in your hips or lower body, or if there are core stability and motor control issues.
Knowing possible issues will allow you to improve your swing, add distance, and reduce the chance of injury.
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.
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