Anyone who has ever walked onto a driving range, stepped up to a tee box or approached the green knows how frustrating the game of golf can be. Like all other sports, golf requires you to put in many hours of practice to perfect your technique. But unlike other sports, the margin of error in your technique is much smaller.
A baseball player can get under the ball on his swing and still have it drop in for a single. A quarterback can be off target, but still have the receiver haul it in. As a golfer, to have your shot go where you want, your contact, ball flight, and distance must all be precisely calculated. Any error in your swing can send you from shooting par to double-bogey.
Because of the mechanical precision required in a golf swing, amateur players often seek help on how they can improve their game. A good golf coach will provide you with cues, drills and demonstrations to guide you toward developing a consistently smooth swing.
But what happens when no matter how hard you try, you cannot achieve the positions that your coach asks of you in your swing?
In this case, you must understand that you're trying to shove a square peg in a round hole. You must first address the biomechanical limitations that are preventing you from getting your body where it needs to be at specific points of your swing.
One of the most common limitations seen in amateur golfers is a lack of shoulder turn on the backswing (a.k.a. a lack of thoracic rotation). Golfers on the PGA Tour average 89 degrees of shoulder rotation during their backswings. Amateur golfers who are only able to rotate 40, 50, or 60 degrees will struggle consistently with ball contact and distance.
If you struggle getting the shoulder turn your coach is asking of you, or you know that your lack of shoulder turn is causing you to hit too many thin and fat shots, check out the three drills below. They will increase your thorax's ability to rotate and allow for better shoulder turn on your backswing.
Rocked-Back Quadruped Thoracic Extension-Rotation
This a great drill because it isolates all of the structures that you need to rotate during your backswing. Rocking your butt back to your heels ensures that your lumbar spine stays stable while you create movement through your thoracic spine, shoulder and rib cage.
Bent-Over Thoracic Rotation
This movement takes all of the principles from the rocked-back version, but because you are standing, you have to stabilize through your core and keep your hips still. This will ensure good hip and shoulder separation, which is needed to generate power efficiently during your swing.
Rotational Medicine Ball Scoop Toss
Once you've mastered the previous two drills, it's time to add velocity to your rotation. The rotational medicine ball scoop toss is good way to integrate thoracic rotation and hip turn in a dynamic fashion that's more representative of a golf swing.
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