May 2014 10

Drive, momentum and hip swing: your body and golf

By: Dave Wheeler

Image by pat138241 @


For golfers, getting the maximum distance is all about maximising the power of your spring.

Ground reaction force

Driving the ball as far as possible (whilst maintaining accuracy) isn’t about having strong shoulders and arms - it’s about planting yourself firmly on the ground and utilising the momentum of hip and shoulder rotation to transfer force to the ball. This momentum, produced as a result of the reaction between the ground and the body’s rotation, is called the ground reaction force (GRF)

During the backswing phase, most of the GRF is on back foot. Then, during the downswing phase, maximum GRF is transferred to the front foot as the club accelerates.

It is the torsion of your hips, core (torso) and shoulders that will maximise the GRF and generate high club-head velocity.


The x-factor

The difference between your hip rotation and your shoulder rotation is called the x-factor.


Image by pixomar @


The idea is to create a big difference between your hip rotation and your shoulder rotation. This will create a big rotational force that will translate into more power for the shot.

The biggest difference between hip rotation and shoulder rotation occurs when your hips are rotating one way and your shoulders are rotating the other. Think about the transition move - at the top of the backswing just as you start to swing towards the ball. At this point, the most powerful golfers will start rotating their shoulders inwards for the downswing, even as their hips are still rotating outwards finishing the backswing hip rotation - that’s how the greatest x-factor can be achieved.

Hip swing

Image by pal2iyawit @


So hips and shoulders play a huge role in golf - especially in driving the distance shot.

The muscles responsible for rotating both your hips and your shoulders (and then translating the GRF into force applied through your arms to the club-head) are subject to large torsion forces. The more you play, the more often those muscles have to bear that force.

What’s more, if you play often the muscles will “bulk up”, and you’ll become stronger. That sounds good since strength equals power; the trouble is that it’s a bit like the weight-lifter who becomes muscle-bound. As you develop stronger muscles, you tend to lose flexibility.

To maintain the greatest x-factor, though, you actually need to increase your flexibility!


Sports massage and the golf swing

Developing strength and flexibility in your hip and shoulder rotators can be tricky - especially if you have a desk job or drive a lot. What's more, the shoulder joint is complex and develops problems easily; the hip joint, too, can give problems - particularly if you're over 50.

Remedial massage techniques can help fix any niggles, aches or pains that are stopping you playing your best. It's better to sort out shoulder and hip problems early if you can.

Sports massage can help you to increase your flexibility to make sure that you can generate maximum GRF and increase the x-factor and stretch so that you have more power to your drive.

As ever, if you think I can help, give me a call.