The Kinematic Sequence for Your Golf Swing

The level of competition on the PGA Tour, the LPGA Tour, and the Champions Tour is insane. Take a look at the next tournament on TV and watch the player’s swings. Pay close attention to their backswings. They don’t all look the same do they? There’s a reason for that. We are all built differently. Some players are taller than others. Some are stronger with larger frames, and some are just smaller individuals. Your body type will say a lot about your swing. If you are tall, you will swing more steep. Shorter players usually have shorter arms, so they may swing more around their bodies. But there are plenty of short players with upright swings and plenty of tall players who swing around their bodies. So how do so many different players will different swings all get similar results? The answer is proper kinematic sequencing. 

The Titleist Performance Institute has their own “Philosophy of the Swing”:

“We don’t believe there is one way to swing a club; we believe there are an infinite number of ways to swing a club. But we do believe that there is one efficient way for everyone to swing and it is based on what they can physically do.”

So the “efficient way” that TPI is referring to is the kinematic sequence. Before I ever became certified as a TPI Golf Fitness Instructor, I read Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf. He wrote about this sequence of body motion on the downswing. He didn’t call it the kinematic sequence, but it is the same thing. The kinematic sequence is all about how golfers can generate speed and transfer that speed into the golf ball with an efficient repeatable pattern. Hogan called it the "magic move" and he described it as beginning the downswing by the turning of the hips to the left (for righties). 

On the second part of the swing, the downswing, after the backswing has been completed, the kinematic sequence goes like this:

1.Lower Body (hips, weight shift toward target)

2.Thorax (chest & shoulders)

3.Arms (as an extension of the club)

4.Hands (club shaft)

Kinematic Sequence.png

Each step in the kinematic sequence builds on the previous step, creating a nice chain reaction. Ben Hogan does a great job in Five Lessons of explaining this as an automatic sequence if initiated by the hips. You shouldn’t have to do too much conscious thinking or “making” for the kinematic sequence to work properly. If you start your downswing with your hands, for instance, you have almost assured yourself of being out of sequence, robbing yourself of power and accuracy.

From TPI:

“Each segment of the chain slows down as the next segment continues to accelerate. Think of the handle of a whip. The first thing you do is accelerate the handle of a whip to generate speed. Then you rapidly decelerate the handle to transfer speed to the next part of the whip. The same thing happens in the best ball-strikers in the world. Their lower body represents the handle and the club shaft represents the end of the whip. Unorthodox styles may have no effect on your ability to generate a good kinematic sequence. In other words, Jim Furyk and Davis Love can have the same kinematic sequence.” 

So is the kinematic sequence the answer to the challenges of the golf swing? In a way yes, but there are other factors. You have to have good segmental stabilization. In other words, your body has to be balanced and flexible enough to swing properly. You can know how to swing, but you also have to be able to swing. Poor conditioning affects the body becuase limitations exist.

This is where a TPI Certified Golf Fitness Instructor comes in handy. Not only can you learn the proper kinematic sequence, but you can learn to isolate and eliminate and physical limitations in the golf swing. To find a TPI CGFI in your area, head here:

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If you are in the Memphis area, email me at ExerciseYourDrive@gmail.com and we can set up a consultation. 

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Golf Swing Help: S-Posture

One of the great things I learned while being trained by the Titleist Performance Institute was how to film a student’s golf swing and look for common golf swing characteristics that may be directly linked to problems with the student’s golf body. TPI calls them “The Big Twelve”, and they include the twelve most common golf swing characteristics. They don’t call them “flaws”, and you shouldn’t either. 

One of the first golf swing characteristics I look for has to do with the student’s posture. I check this from the down-the-line view. A golfer’s posture can either be deemed an “S-Posture” or “C-Posture”. 

S-Posture is a swing characteristic caused by the player creating too much arch in their lower back by sticking their tail bone out too much in the setup position. This excessive curvature in the lower back puts abnormally high stress on the muscles in the lower back and causes the abdominal muscles to relax. The deactivation of the core muscles can cause a loss of posture or reverse spine angle during the backswing. This, in turn, puts the lower body out of position on the downswing and will affect the swing’s kinematic sequence of motion. 

You can actually stick your butt out at setup without arching your back if you just hinge from your hips and keep your spine in a neutral stable posture. This requires good core strength and proper stabilization in the lumbar spine. Golf instructors spent years teaching their students to stick their butts way out during the stance phase of the golf swing. It was a fundamental that was thought to lock the body into place and help maintain good golf posture. There was a major problem with this teaching: a lot of golfers started complaining of back pain. The high stress put on the lower back muscles puts added pressure on the back during the golf swing.

The S-Posture characteristic can also be caused by too much (anterior) pelvic tilt of the hips at address. In non-anatomical terms, this basically means you are sticking your butt out and tilting your pelvis and hips down toward the ground too much and creating a big arch in your lower back. Another cause of S-Posture comes from a misunderstanding of an athletic setup position. This is common in athletes who have played baseball, football, and basketball and were always taught to “break down” and look ready. This isn’t a bad thought, but you can still get into an athletic position by just hinging from the hips and flexing the knees. 

If you feel you are falling victim to the S-Posture, either correct your setup with a correct hip hinge, or try these exercises to gain the proper strength and stability required to make a proper, injury-free golf swing. 

C-Posture & S-Posture.jpg

Golf Swing Help: C-Posture

Like I said the other day, one of the great things I learned while being trained by the Titleist Performance Institute was how to film a student’s golf swing and look for common golf swing characteristics that may be directly linked to problems with the student’s golf body. TPI calls them “The Big Twelve”, and they include the twelve most common golf swing characteristics. They don’t call them “flaws”, and you shouldn’t either. 

One of the first golf swing characteristics I look for has to do with the student’s posture. I check this from the down-the-line view. A golfer’s posture can either be deemed an “S-Posture” or “C-Posture”. 

C-Posture occurs when the shoulders are slumped forward at address and there is a definitive roundness to the back from the tailbone to the back of the neck. If you fail to keep the backswing short and wide, you will find it difficult to maintain posture as you swing the club back.

Any excessive rounding of the upper back or thoracic spine in the golf posture is termed  C-Posture. This posture can simply be the result of a poor setup position and can be corrected by physically adjusting the posture to a more neutral spine. Unfortunately, the majority of C-Postures are caused by a series of muscle imbalances and joint restrictions that are developed over many years. 

Weak muscles in the shoulder blades make it very difficult to hold the shoulders back in proper posture. Tightness in the shoulders and chest also aid in the negative effects of rounded shoulders by pulling the shoulder blades apart. Lack of proper instruction, or not understanding the correct setup and posture, can easily lead to this common golf swing characteristic. A lack of pelvic tilt, causing the upper body to bend while addressing the ball and get into this “hunched over position” is also a culprit. 

C-Posture can also stem from using clubs that are too short, standing too far away from the ball, or a grip that is too much in the fingers of both hands. 

If you feel you are falling victim to C-Posture, either correct your setup with a correct hip hinge, or try these exercises to gain the proper strength and stability required to make a proper, injury-free golf swing. 

C-Posture.jpg