“IT’S All IN THE HIPS”

Posted: April 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

If you are anything like me, you may often sit back and wonder how professional athletes do what they do. Whether it’s dunking a basketball or hitting a baseball 450 ft., some of the things we see on SportsCenter every night seem to defy logic. Most times, at least with these two athletic feats, we justify our own lack of manhood by chalking it up to picking the wrong parents (or ‘supplements’).

He is 6’7, of course he can dunk!

or

Look at those forearms! They are bigger than my thighs! If I was built like him, I could hit the ball that far!

Bash Brothers

Also, Bash Brothers

Ok, Fulton and Portman really have nothing to do with this topic. BUT, when I Googled ‘Bash Brothers’ I was pleased to see their picture alongside Mr. McGwire and Mr. Canseco. 

One sport where being physically impressive seems to have little correlation with success is golf. In my humble opinion, I would go out on a limb and  say most pro golfer’s body composition is somewhere between skinny fat and Homer Simpson.

It is for this reason that what pro golfers can do it extremely impressive. These seemingly average sized guys can generate power and hit a golf ball crazy long distances.

What’s the reason? Well, I can tell you it certainly is NOT because of the size of their biceps.

Let’s look at Rory McIlroy. Pgatour.com has him listed at a whopping 5’10 in, 160 lbs. His average driving distance? 292.8 yards! For you guys out there who struggle with math, that’s like three entire football fields!

The point is, it’s really not about size.

What is it about? Grossly oversimplifying it, I would say a large part is about our good buddy, Mr. Hip Hinge. For those of you who forgot, this a video I posted a few weeks back with a simple hip hinge drill.

In fact, Dr. Paul Cheetham, a pioneer of 3D motion-capture technology has done extensive research in order to identify just how much pelvic tilting or hip hinge occurs with a PGA tour athlete.

His results:

  • Most people have about 12-14 degrees of (anterior) pelvic tilt when standing erect.
  • Pro golfers increase their tilt to 20 degrees at setup, creating the hinge or pistol action.
  • During the down swing, this tilt decreases to 5 degrees at ball contact, essentially losing 15 degrees of tilt from top swing to impact. This all happens in 0.3 seconds.

To put a visual to this, here is an analysis of Rory McIlroy’s swing. At about 9:00, the golf pro begins to talk about Rory’s lower half. I’m warning you beforehand, the guy speaking is super boring so I highly recommend going right to the 9:00 minute mark.

As you can see, Rory really engages his lower half at the start of his down swing. With a hip hinge (essentially pushing his butt back without lumbar flexion) and slight knee bend, this action in golf speak, is called compressing. As the gentleman in the video states (if you were still awake to hear) Rory’s head position descends about 6 inches from set-up to ball contact.

Now obviously, I am no golf pro. Also, I do realize (and trust me I DO REALIZE from personal experience) that sequencing, timing, tempo, and not being insane are all key components to driving the ball a long way. That being said, most of you reading this are probably not golf pro’s either. That does not mean you can’t train your golfing clients on the proper hip hinge and have a positive impact on their golf game (on purpose or by accident).

Have a great day!

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