THE PHYSIOLOGY BEHIND THE SWAY & SLIDE SWING FAULTS

Bob Forman, MS - Exercise Physiology
Certified Golf Fitness Instructor, Author, Speaker



You’re just not getting the distance you think you should be getting and can’t figure out why.  You even broke down and bought those new clubs and balls the ads promised would get you further down the fairway.  What gives?!

Well the equipment technology has gotten better, no doubt, but all that technology won’t amount to much if the swing mechanics aren’t sound.  Unfortunately, this applies to most amateur golfers and is the single most significant factor for the inconsistency and frustration golfers experience.

The textbook swing sequence (right) is one that starts at the transformation and is characterized by an efficient energy transfer up the chain starting from the hips (red line), to the golfer’s upper body (green), then arms (blue), and finally the clubhead (brown).  When done properly, it maximizes clubhead speed and distance, no matter what club or ball you’re using.

Body positioning has a lot to say about whether the swing will be in or out of sequence, and this is often influenced by the golfer’s anatomical make-up.  Two common faults that interfere with the swing sequence are sway and slide.  They are characterized by excessive lateral movement of the hip.  Sway used to label this inefficient movement pattern in the backswing and slide in the downswing.

Moving the hips sideways in the frontal plane (away from the target) during the takeaway usually results in a weight shift to the outside part of the trail foot (right foot for a right-handed golfer) vs. the inside part of the foot where it ideally should be.  With the weight shifted to the outer border, the golfer diminishes his ability to push-off the trail foot during the transition into the downswing.  This, in turn, impacts the ability to produce power.

The weight-shift to the trail side during sway can also create swing plane issues.  Instead of staying on top of the ball, the golfer as he moves laterally back and forth will produce a moving swing plane that can influence ball contact.  This may result in miss hits and inconsistent shots.

To initiate the downswing, the golfer should bump the hip slightly toward the target in the frontal plane and then rotate.  For many, the rotation does not occur and the hips continue on a lateral line toward the target.  This is called a slide swing fault.

This moving foundation doesn’t allow for an efficient transfer of energy from the hips to the upper body as described in the swing sequence above.  As a result, arm and clubhead speed is negatively impacted, robbing the golfer of distance.

In addition, depending on how much lateral movement there is, the risk of injury can increase due to the abnormal positioning and stress placed on the target knee and/or ankle.  

Two of the primary physical deficiencies that correlate to sway and slide are a tightness in the muscles that are responsible for internal hip rotation and/or a weakness in the glutes.  If one or both of these conditions are present on both sides of the body, you can anticipate both swing faults appearing.  For many, however, there exists a unilateral deficiency that sets the stage for just a sway or a slide fault.

Internal hip rotators are active golf muscle groups associated with the hip that, if tight, won’t allow for freedom of movement, restricting hip rotation.  This tightness is often seen in golfers and tends to be more prevalent on the target side.

Three good exercises to address tight internal hip rotators are knee drops, reverse clams and knee pinches.

For the knee drops (photo right), lie on the floor on your back with feet flat and knees bent.  The arms can be at your side or overhead.  Separate the feet wider than the knees.  Slowly lower the knees to the same side while keeping your shoulders in contact with the floor.  Hold for 10 to 15-seconds and then rotate to the opposite side.  Do 3 sets to each side.

Reverse clams (photo left) are done lying on your side with the heels in line with your body and knees bent slightly forward.  While keeping the knees together, slowly move the top foot up, as far as comfort allows, and down 20 to 25x.  You’ll feel the gluteus medius working on the side of your hip, in your back pocket, while you raise and lower the foot.  Keep the pace slow and fluid.  Breathe normally throughout. 

For the knee pinches (photo right), roll down on a stability ball just a bit.  Place the feet wider than the knees with the feet pointing straight ahead and parallel to each other.  While keeping the heels flat on the floor, roll down the ball some more as you pinch your knees together as far as comfort allows.  You should feel this in and around the hip area.  Hold for a 10 to 15-second count and then push back up to the starting position.  Repeat 2 to 3 more times. 

Weak glutes can reduce lower body stability, which can cause excessive movement of the hips.  Again, this can be a bilateral occurrence or just to one side.  Bridges done with feet flat on the floor (left photo) or while on top of a stability ball (right photo) are good ways to isolate and strengthen the glutes. 

Each can be performed with the hands palm down at your side (right photo) or folded across the chest (left photo), which makes the base of support less stable.  When it becomes easy to do the exercise with both feet on the floor or on the stability ball, try the bridge with extension or lift one foot off the ball to progress the exercise as you isolate each side. 

A third physical deficiency that needs to be considered if sway and/or slide are present is the inability to disassociate the upper body from the lower, otherwise known in golf as the X-factor.  Not having this capacity may cause the upper body to pull the lower body with it, shifting the hips as it does.  Tight lats and/or T-spine muscle groups can be the underlying mechanism and should be assessed to determine if they are lacking in range of motion.  Refer to the article T-Spine Mobility, Your Golf Swing and your Back for more information and related exercises. 

Correcting the physical deficiencies that correlate to the swing fault is just half of the fix.  The other half being the rewiring of the brain-body connection that currently has you in the wrong movement pattern.  To do this, you will need to practice the correct movement pattern until it becomes engrained. 

A great drill for this is to wrap an exercise band around your waist with the anchor toward the side of the fault.  So, if you sway, you’ll want to anchor the band to the trail side, if you slide to the target side. 

Side step away from the anchor till a gentle pull is felt.  Now, get into your golf stance with arms crossing your chest and go through the swing sequence.  As you do, don’t let the band pull you into your fault.

This drill will train you to resist the pull, thereby helping you rewire your body to not move laterally while swinging the golf club.  You’ll need to repeat this drill many times in order for the new movement pattern to become your new norm. 

Poor swing mechanics can wreak havoc on your game and will most certainly, over time, take a toll on your body.  Get together with a certified Golf Fitness Instructor and have a physical assessment done to identify and correct your problem areas.  In doing so, you'll improve swing efficiency, ball contact, and get that distance you're looking for.          

EXERCISE OF THE MONTH

Quad-Hip Flexor Stretch

This is a progressive stretch for the quad-hip flexor area.  Be cautious as you lean back on the bench as it will challenge the knee if the quads are tight.  Avoid this stretch if you've had knee replacement.  Tight quads/hip flexors will impede hip mobility and that may rob you of power and distance.

 

 

Check with your physician before starting any type of exercise program.

IMPROVE YOUR GAME

GOLF FITNESS
ASSESSMENT & TRAINING


A quality, customized golf fitness program will. . .
  • Enhance swing efficiency
  • Increase distance
  • Improve playing performance and satisfaction
  • Identify and correct golf-specific injury triggers

    All for much less than what another brand new driver that's going to "fix my game" would cost
     
click here for details

  


The golf exercises are going great.  I am hitting the ball the best I have ever hit it.  My back pain has gone away also. 
 
David R. 

more testimonials

HOST A WORKSHOP

If your Club or organization would like to host an informative golf fitness workshop, contact Bob at bob@golfitcarolina.com or 336-509-4610.

Bob came to my club and did a hour long session on the basics of his teaching and philosophy of fitness and how it relates to the golf swing and its performance.  My members thoroughly enjoyed the hour and wanted more.  I was impressed with his content and explanation.  My members were floored with his Q&A and his personal adaptation to their issues.  I was impressed with his interaction with attendants of the seminar.  If you are looking for someone to integrate your fitness program with the golf program, Bob is the guy to do it!  We will be booking Bob to come back to our club next spring.
Shannon Howell, PGA Head Golf Professional
Country Club of Sapphire Valley, Sapphire Valley, NC


"Bob Forman was fabulous!  He is a great presenter who shared some extremely valuable information related to how anatomical deficiencies such as: poor posture, flexibility, and balance impact our golf swing.  He not only shared what they are and how they impact the swing, but also demonstrated exercises to help correct them."
Ellen Gregory
EWGA-Wilmington, NC chapter

“Westchester is one of the Country’s largest private clubs with a membership that has high expectations for service and performance.  Bob Forman’s seminar on golf specific fitness and flexibility was extremely well received and motivated many of my members to begin a program of evaluation, exercise and follow-ups.  I highly recommend Bob for his knowledge, energy , and ability to connect with amateurs concerning golf fitness.” 
John Kennedy, Director of Golf
Westchester CC, 
Harrison, NY

Bob has a fantastic ability to understand and combine his expertise of the physical complexities of the human body with the PGA Professional’s trained eye with respect to the complexities of the golf swing.  Bob offers a refreshing angle that most amateur and professional golfers can understand and embrace.  Many times, a golfer will have physical limitations that prevents him or her from moving the way the PGA Professional is trying to instruct.  Bob can take the golfer’s weakest physical traits and focus a training program to better overcome those obstacles and allow the golfers to ultimately improve their swing. 
Dennis Nicholl, PGA Head Golf Professional
The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

IMPROVE YOUR GAME

Functional Golf Fitness Training is a comprehensive player improvement resource for golfers of all ages and levels, teaching professionals and coaches.  
A great manual for golf teams as well.  

Dedicated chapters on:
- the common physical deficiencies most golfers have, how to detect and correct with over 40 golf-specific exercises and drills
- preventing/alleviating the #1 injury in golf, low back injury
- how to fix the more common swing faults 
- how to put together an inexpensive home gym

Amazon reviews:

"Very clear explanations of causes and fixes for main physical deficiencies affecting golfers. Easy to follow instructions. While other books may give a whole laundry list of exercises that end up not being used, Forman has selected a few for each issue and puts together a program that doesn't take long to do"

"This book not only tells you what to do but also why you need to do and what results you can expect.
I have every book in print about golf fitness and this book is by far the best."


Available in print at TheBookPatch

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or as an ebook on Amazon

Go to
http://www.amazon.com/Functional-Golf-Fitness-Training-ebook/dp/B00FH88Q0Q

SWING FAULT PHYSIOLOGY

Swing mechanics are often influenced by physical deficiencies in the golfer's body.  Below are some of the more common swing faults, their physical causes and how to correct.

GOLF POSTURE

S-POSTURE AND LOW BACK PAIN

EARLY EXTENSION

SWAY & SLIDE

REVERSE SPINE

While correcting the deficiencies, you also need to rewire the brain-body connection in order to break out of the inefficient swing pattern.  

REWIRE THE BAD SWING HABIT

RADIO / PODCASTS

 

 
June 22, 2017
(go to 1:10:00 into the show)
golf posture, muscle imbalance, improving distance, stretching, hydration, Tiger and specialization, Rory and weight lifting



March 14, 2015
(go to 1:08:00 into the show)
fitness vs. golf fitness, strength training and slowing down the aging process, C and S-postures,  


August 28, 2014
We talk about Shan's golf fitness assessment results

 


June 26, 2014


scroll down to 9/9/2013
(go to 23:15 into the show)
back injury