When it Comes to Swing Length Size Really Does Matter, and Shorter is Better

Something that always comes up when I’m working with my golfers is their backswing length. Many golfers, and teachers, think that it’s vital to get to the top of their backswing, and get the golf club parallel to the ground. While I don’t disagree that players need to get to a good position at the top of the backswing, I do think that everyone has a unique backswing point. That point is very dependent upon how much flexibility you have.

How Many Degrees Do You Need?

Most professional golfers have 60 degrees of rotation in their shoulders, and 60 degrees of rotation in their hips. If you add those up it’s 120 degrees of rotation that is available (I know, difficult math). Now, you don’t need 120 degrees of rotation to get to the top of a “normal” backswing (lets just use parallel to the ground as a point of reference). You only need about 90 degrees of rotation to get there. There are two problems that most amateur golfers are faced with though. 1: They don’t have even close to 90 degrees of rotation. 2: If they do, that still isn’t enough.

Some of you are probably saying “what the heck! You just said I only need 90 degrees to get to the top of my backswing.” Let’s look back at those numbers though. Pro’s have 120 degrees and you only need 90 degrees to get to the top. That gives us a 30 degree difference (I know, hard math again). The pro golfer will get to the top of their backswing and then start the swing with their hips without moving their shoulders. That gives a greater stretch through the trunk and shoulders, and requires those extra degrees of rotation to prevent the shoulders from coming along for the ride. This gives them power and consistency with their swing.

So What Does an Amateur Do?

If you don’t have 120 degrees of rotation all is not lost. You should certainly do some stretching to improve your rotation if you don’t. What I do with my golfers is find the spot in their swing where they can still move their hips in the downswing. From there we use the K-vest system for biofeedback to memorize where that point is and prevent their swing from getting too long. It also helps them to coordinate the start of the downswing with their hips vs. their arms like most do. Once they do the flexibility exercises and improve their rotation we can continue to lengthen the swing without affecting the power and consistency they have created.

If you don’t have a fancy K-vest system but still want to find the correct length of your backswing watch this video.

The biggest thing to look for is the ability to start your hips without your arms. I always err on the side of short. You will be surprised how short you can make your swing and still hit the ball a far distance.

I hope this helps to improve your power and consistency with your golf swing. If you have any questions please contact me. Visit OrthoCore and learn more or make an appointment. Enjoy your new shorter, more powerful, swing.

Balance with Pitching

Balance and posture were the first two mechanical flaws I was taught to look for when I became certified through the National Pitching Association (NPA). The NPA is a group that was founded by Tom House who is the throwing coach for the G.O.A.T. (Tom Brady for those who live outside of New England), Drew Brees, Randy Johnson, Nolan Ryan, and so many other top athletes that this blog post would be 18 pages in just names alone. Their mission is to focus on strength and conditioning techniques that enhance a players skills and reduce their risk of injuries. In short, they look at the body first and performance second. You can’t be a division 1 pitcher if you can’t stay on the mound. Balance and posture is so important to this group that they don’t even look at anything else until this mechanic is fixed.

When we talk about balance we aren’t talking about a pitchers ability to stand on their drive leg for a long period of time. Quite honestly that doesn’t even matter that much. What we’re looking for is the pitchers ability to keep their shoulders level, through their stride, and delivery of the baseball to home plate. Any deviation from this level position will lead to a compensation which can lead to arm injury and break down over time.

Here are a couple of examples of good posture through delivery.

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Here are some examples of bad posture through delivery. They most common coaching mistake we see is telling a player to “get on top” of the ball.

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Now some of you reading at this point might be thinking, “Hey Matt Harvey was a dominant pitcher and Okajima was an World Series winning All Star.” That is all true but how long were they dominant and, at what cost.

A players inability to maintain their balance and posture through the delivery can be caused by a multitude of reasons. Literally any restriction in anything from the ankle up to the trunk can cause a loss of posture in the players delivery. I always recommend that a player get screened by a qualified movement specialist to be sure you are attacking the correct strength and flexibility deficits that are causing the problem. That being said here are some of the most common causes of loss of posture that I see with my pitchers.

Flexibility:

If a players hips and trunk are tight it will limit their ability to rotate which can lead to a loss of posture while throwing. Here are two simple stretches that you can do to help improve your hip and trunk mobility. If you try to do these exercises, and its really easy, then flexibility probably isn’t the reason behind why you are losing posture. It’s still a good idea to perform them regularly to maintain the flexibility that you have. Try doing 15 repetitions holding each repetition for about 3 seconds

Hip IR/ER with Twist:

Sit on the ground with a bat. Rotate one leg in and the other leg out keeping a 90deg bend in the knees. Once your legs are touching the ground rotate your arms towards the leg that is rotating in.

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Open Book:

Lie on your side with both legs bent up to 90deg. Rotate your arms open like a book.

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Core Strength:

Your core muscles are what keep your trunk upright while you are twisting as you throw. They also help to transfer the energy from your legs up to your arm. That means that by doing this exercise not only will you be able to better maintain your posture, you will also be able to throw harder (and who doesn’t like that). Perform 15 repetitions on each side and hold this reach/kick position for 3 seconds.

Plank with Reach:

Get into a tall plank position focusing on squeezing your glutes and keeping your core tight. Stay stiff and alternate reaching with your hands out in front of you. It’s important to prevent your hips from twisting while you reach.

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Plank with Kick:

Get into the same tall plank position. Alternate kicking a leg up in the air. Make sure that your hips don’t twist. Also make sure that your back doesn’t arch as you kick up.

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Balance:

Well it’s what we’ve been talking about the whole time. Didn’t you think I was going to give you an exercise to work on? Balance is important in your trail leg but also your landing leg so be sure to work on this on both legs. You may notice a difference between your legs which is completely normal. The more you work on it, the more your legs will equal out. Try to do 15-20 repetitions on each leg.

Single Leg RDL:

Stand on one leg. Keeping your back straight, balance on one leg and kick the other leg back. The goal is to get your body parallel to the ground without rounding you back. This is a really challenging exercise so don’t get frustrated if you have trouble with it. Just keep practicing and eventually you will master it.

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I hope this helps you improve your strength and flexibility to limit any loss of balance and posture that you might have in your delivery. If you haven any questions or problems please don’t hesitate to contact me on our website, www.orthocorept.com , or via email, IanM@orthocorept.com.