April 11, 2020

Improving Golf Swings (Without Hitting a Ball)

Rebecca Dengler, PGA/LPGA

Everyone is in need of positive things to do inside during these trying times and those who play golf are no different. In fact, you can improve your golf swing without even hitting balls. Where is the best place to start?

“Posture will affect just about anything in the swing for better or for worse.”

Joe DiChiara, PGA, TPI
Director of Education; K-Motion

The posture of a player has a profound effect on the golf swing. This includes the two basic positions of forward bend and side bend in the posture, and will be demonstrated here as a big part of how to train at home. Training for an efficient posture will have a lot of positive effects on a players’ ability to make solid contact with the golf ball. The information used comes from the K-Motion system, a leader in 3D capture and training that has worked well with my students.

K-Motion provides players and coaches with a way to capture 3-dimensional video of the golf swing and provides biofeedback for training. While extremely useful for professional athletes, it is also used effectively for everyday players. Understanding the K-Motion concepts will help improve your posture, even with just a mirror and your smart phone or camera.

The first basic positions of posture are forward bending of the upper body and pelvis. Forward bend will have a big impact on a player’s ability to make solid contact as opposed to hitting on top or behind the ball.

Below (left) is the K-Player system, which consists of two sensors that will detect the exact position of the upper body and the pelvis. These sensors detect any movement 3-dimensionally and are programmed with a range of proper positioning to help players get into an efficient and effective posture.

The picture above (middle) is an example of the proper amount of forward bend in the upper body and pelvis. The yellow alignment rod along the back shows a visual of a straight spine which will help players engage their core muscles of the abdomen which can help with stabilizing and power. Imagine a blue line as a guide running from the front of the shoelaces, through the front of the knee, the top of the grip, and finally through the armpit. This imaginary line is known as the center balance line. With the proper amount of forward bend in the upper body and pelvis, the center balance line will hit all those points. You can use a full-length mirror to check and practice at home or take photos on your phone and evaluate later.

The picture above (right) represents what this looks like if you are training on the actual K-Player system. It is interesting to note that in this picture, the pelvis forward bend (20 degrees) is roughly ½ of what the upper body forward bend is (40 degrees) however, these numbers don’t need to be exact in fact you can see there is an acceptable range for these bends listed below the actual 20/40 degrees.

The second position to look at in the posture is side bend. Proper side bend occurs due to the fact that the trail hand is lower on the grip than the lead hand shown in the left picture above. The right picture shows how the upper body is tilted away from the target, showing 10 degrees of side bend. However, the pelvis, as shown by the waist band, should be level.

How to train: Take your posture holding the club in your lead/top hand (left hand for a right- handed). Then, when you go to place your trail/lower hand on the grip, allow it to tilt your entire upper body naturally away from the target. Your trail shoulder should feel lower as the upper body is tilted away from the target. Check your hips at this point they should be level. You can also check the hips and shoulders in a mirror using an alignment rod. The hips should appear level and the upper body should have a visible tilt away from the target.

Putting it all together….

With K-Motion systems, when the player is in the proper range, for example with forward bend, there will be music playing. If you are too tall or too bent either in the pelvis or upper body the music will stop playing. Imagine you have the sensors on and train forward bend and side bend separately and then put the two together. It is very important for you to go through your entire routine – from behind the ball to set up – to get into these positions so it will be fully integrated into your game when you are playing on the course.

For an added challenge, check the weight distribution of the feet; it should be evenly balanced between the feet right and left as well as heel to toe. To check this, once you are in your posture of forward and side bend, shift from the right to left foot and find balance – then shift from heels to the toes and find balance. At this point you should be evenly balanced on your feet. Tour players are often checking these and other positions knowing what they feel may not always be accurate. Everyday players need to know and check these important positions too!

Rebecca Dengler is a PGA/LPGA Master Professional and TPI Level 3 Golf and K-Coach Certified Teaching Professional at Ed Oliver Golf Club in Wilmington, Delaware. She has been recognized as an LPGA Top 50 Teacher and Golf Digest Best Teacher in State. She can be found at beckydenglergolf.com.