UNDERSTANDING THE PIVOT
The 3-Dimensions of the pivot you NEED to know about.
Recently a video of Justin Rose on the range got a lot of interest when he mentioned: "instead of turn to the top, tilt to the top". This created more questions than answers as people simply do not know what this means!
Video Link: https://www.instagram.com/p/B3DQizdF7yL/
This blog is all about educating my readers about the 3-dimensional movements of the spine and the role it plays through the golf swing.
Some terms that you may have heard of:
- Early extension
- Spine angle at address
- Hip turn
All these things relate to the pivot in the golf swing. It is an area that is so crucial but heavily misunderstood. Through my TPI certification (Titleist performance institute) and a high level of interest in biomechanics and how it relates to the golf swing, Having a very good understanding of this allows me to communicate it in a way that is easy for my students to absorb. The information below goes a little more in-depth and I am keen to pass on some of the learnings and pictures that I have studied along my educational journey!
The 3-Dimensions of the pivot.
Extending, tilting, and turning of the spine is what occurs in all elite players creating a 3-dimensional pivot. Typically the only thing mentioned is turning.
So, in my view, there is a basic misunderstanding of what should be taught and in what order it should be taught. People tend to associate ‘extending’ with either the arms or with standing up out of the posture.
The average tour player is bent forward between 33° and 46° or they are in forward flexion at address. During the backswing, the spine extends to 0° at P4 or the top of the backswing. The acceptable range is between -3° backward bend to 5° forward band, averaging out to about 0°. This would usually seem like the golfer would be standing up but because the golfer also tilts the spine, and they are tilting in the opposite direction that they are turning. So the player never looks like they are standing up. Nor are they maintaining their spine angle but they are maintaining their inclination to the ground or the height is staying constant. Reality is they are extending tilting and turning all those at the same time.
As complex as the golf swing is, three key movements centred around how your shoulders turn in the backswing, tilt in the backswing and bend in the follow-through are some of the biggest differences between how amateur golfers measure up to the pros. They’re also three of the easiest movements to improve for any golfer. I have broken down the pivot to three key areas and I feel if you can do these three things well, you will have a great ability to strike the ball consistently.
My 3 keys to a better pivot:
1. Great balance points at setup.
To move the body correctly, the body positions and angles need to be well aligned and in the acceptable range. If you are in a good setup position, you are giving yourself a GREAT chance to make a great pivot. I like to ensure the body position is bent forward between that 33° and 46° allowance and knee flex sitting between 20° and 30°.
People look too much at the roundedness of the upper back. That I am not too concerned about. I like watching the swing instructor George Gankas and he regularly has players disregard the rounding of the upper back as he is more interested in the player's ability to be within the correct window as circled in the Tiger image to the right.
2. Hips turn on an inclined tilt on the backswing.
The professional golfers on the right are making a great hip turn. A change of knee flex will allow the right hip to be on an inclined tilt. Ensuring the right hip is higher on the backswing is crucial to the upper torso working efficiently. I sometimes use an alignment rod through the belt loops to help the player work on this. It is a very effective move to create a powerful backswing. Some players with lower back pain will need to feel an unweighting of the left leg or perhaps letting the left heel leave the ground to enable the correct hip turn.
3. Tilt at the top
Shoulder tilt is one of the most important aspects of the swing you may have never thought about.
Many higher handicap golfers tend to reach the top of their swing with the shoulders more level to the ground than the average pro, whose lead shoulder is often much lower and more toward the ground than the trailing shoulder.
A great exercise for this is to place a club across your chest and ensure the end of the club would be directed at the ground on the backswing, generally just over the golf ball.
The image on the right shows some of the greatest players in the history of the game having similar shoulder tilt at the top. The range is usually between 35° and 40°. This will particularly help players that struggle to get a divot after the ball or an over the top swing characteristic.
The pivot is a very complex part of the golf swing. I am a firm believer that a players knowledge and understanding of this topic will make them a better player so I wanted to go a little deeper in this blog so players and even coaches can use this as a resource to understanding the pivot a little more.
Thanks for reading and I will see you in the lesson booth!