“You need to increase your shoulder turn if you want to hit the ball farther.”
Many golfers have heard these words from their PGA professional or one of their many playing partners. It's easy to say, but much harder to apply in real life.
If your clients or athletes are struggling with their shoulder turns, it’s time to take a more scientific approach. Using Applied Functional Science® (AFS) and our Functional Golf System, we’ll explore why “shoulder turns” are so essential to the golf swing—and how you can use our body’s Chain Reaction® movements to refine your clients’ performance.
Look Beyond the Shoulder When Assessing Golf Swings
The biomechanics of a golf swing are complex, involving Chain Reactions in the hips, knees, back, shoulders, and other body parts. Golf professionals often isolate shoulder turns, because they’re seen as an essential contributor to a swing’s consistency and distance. At Gray Institute, we see it a little differently.
The shoulder turn is a visible representation of the ability to load the musculoskeletal system to explode into the ball. As the body turns away from the intended direction of the shot during the backswing, getting the upper back to face (as much as possible) towards the target is the goal.
As a part of the biomechanics of the golf swing, “shoulder turn” is a misnomer because the “turn” results from motion occurring in the hips and trunk. The shoulder and arm movement that set the club at the top of the backswing are critical, but not part of the actual “shoulder turn.”
The turn of the trunk away from the target occurs primarily in the transverse plane. The turn is often referred to as the coil or pivot. Most of this turning motion occurs at the hips and thoracic spine (trunk).
Focusing on the thoracic spine, it is well-accepted by teaching professionals and sports biomechanists that maximizing the amount that the spine can rotate beyond the hips is a major contributor to a powerful golf swing.
The rotational separation between the trunk and pelvis loads the anterior and posterior core muscles. The swing will not only be powerful, but this separation synchronizes the body parts for an effective and efficient transfer of power to the golf ball during the downswing.
At Gray Institute®, our functional approach to movement in general, and golf specifically, is that all movements are three-dimensional (3D). It is not enough to rotate in the transverse plane. There must also be the proper combination of lateral flexion towards the target in the frontal plane, as well as sagittal plane extension within the spine while maintaining the spine angle. Without these two smaller “pieces” of the 3D turn, the plane of the swing will be altered, and adjustments will occur in other regions of the body.
You can also watch this article’s corresponding vlog, where Dr. David Tiberio describes the 3D components of the “shoulder turn.” He will explore the movement barriers commonly seen in golfers, and how to use the assessment movements as training and treatment exercises.
How the Functional Golf System Approaches the Game
For the golfer who needs to increase their “shoulder turn” during the backswing, the Functional Golf System provides the movements to increase the 3D motion in the spine and hips. And these movements easily translate into the movements for balance or strength.
The Functional Golf System from Gray Institute is an online specialization program that prepares movement specialists to assess and empower the body’s ability to produce the proper 3D motion combinations at the feet, hips, spine, and shoulders. The assessment movements are golf-specific allowing the practitioner to identify motion restrictions at various joints that are barriers to an effective swing. Once these single plane and 3D limitations are identified, a program path is selected that will assist the golfing client in acquiring the physical resources and abilities that are lacking.
The Functional Golf System has more than 275 golf-specific exercises that are pre-organized into program paths that empower the movement specialist to serve their clients by “preparing the body to make the swing.” Each program path can be individualized based on the golfer’s specific needs. Some golfers need one resource (e.g., mobility) in all the positions of the golf swing. Others need multiple resources (mobility, balance, strength, and power) in one position.
Ready to Learn More? Enroll in the Functional Golf System
If you’re a golf professional, personal trainer, or movement professional who works with golfers, the Functional Golf System can help you empower them and improve their performance. To learn more about this innovative specialization, contact Gray Institute today.