The hips are the main part of the body that drives a good golf swing. Get great hip movement through the ball and gain both power and accuracy with this tip.
The role of the hips in the golf swing is a critical one as they serve as the power source that drives the entire movement. This begins at the end of the backswing. The first movement of the downswing motion should be made by the hips in a rotational fashion. When this happens, the hips move from their backswing position so that the belly button or belt buckle turns to face the golfer's target. This movement should happen first before any others and drag the shoulders, arms, hands and club to the ball. At impact, the hips should be pointing nearly at the target and at the finish position of the swing, they should at least point toward the target if not be further rotated.
As the hips rotate, a slingshot is created and the golf club travels in a wide arc around the body before striking the ball. The club, swinging in this arc, produces great speed for very little effort and can therefore provide easy distance. For those who are less strong or suffer with injury or inflexibility, using the hips takes the stress off the upper body and still makes it possible to generate a good club head speed and therefore distance.
A good hip movement also provides consistent rotation through the swing which allows the golfer to control the club face and provide accuracy. If the hips rotate correctly then the golf swing becomes a big arc and the golf club travels around the body in one long rotatory movement. Because of this consistent rotation, it becomes very easy to time the hands and the club face to rotate correctly to a 'square' position (where the club face points at the target) at impact with the golf ball and hit a straight shot.
To gain easy distance and to improve accuracy, all by using the hips, here is a great exercise. The objective of this exercise is to pull the front hip (left for right hander's and right for left hander's) back away from the ball before the club swings into the golf ball. This is possible by focusing on the belly button or belt buckle. When swinging from the top of the backswing, focus on turning the belly button or belt buckle towards the intended target as early and as fast as possible. Be aware of the arms and shoulders and make sure that it is the mid-section and hips that begin the downswing. It is also a good visual aid to put a stick or old golf club shaft vertically into the ground next to and just to the side of the front leg. With this in place, the focus is to turn the belt buckle to face the stick as early as possible.
This exercise clears the hips faster and makes sure that they fully rotate through the golf ball, providing speed and accuracy.
How to Clear Hips – Help with Accuracy and Distance
What parts of your body do you think you need to use in order to swing the club successfully? When asked that question, the average amateur golfer would likely list off things like the hands, shoulders, arms, and maybe even feet. However, few would think to include the hips, despite the important role that they play in producing a quality golf swing. If you are going to be able to generate power in your swing, you need to use your hips correctly – it's just that simple. Not only will your hips help you to produce speed, but they will also do a good job of helping the club to stay on track for a strike that sends the ball directly down the target line.
It can be easy to forget about the role of the hips because they don't actually do anything during the backswing – they only jump into action when the downswing begins. For many golfers, this means that the hips never wind up getting involved at all. They simply remain in place while the rest of the body attempts to swing the club back and through. It is possible to hit decent shots without really using your hips, but those shots will always fall far short of their potential. If you haven't previously used your hips properly during the golf swing, you are in for a nice surprise when you find out just how much more powerful your swing can be when the hips play a role.
Of course, you can't just decide one day to 'use your hips' and expect to see great results. You need to know how to use them, and you then need to practice the correct technique in order to build it in to your swing. In this article, we are going to highlight the key points related to how your hips should be working in the golf swing. Hopefully, when this article is finished, you will have a great understanding of the way the hips are intended to work as you swing down through the ball. With that knowledge in mind, you will be able to head out to the practice range to work on actually putting this information into use. The results might not be great at first, but stick with it – the use of your hips will become more and more natural, and your game will gradually improve as a result.
Before getting too far into the discussion of how your hips need to work in the golf swing, it is important to remember that the golf swing is a cohesive unit that needs to have all of its parts working well together if it is going to thrive. In other words, you can't just add great hip action to a poor golf swing and expect great results. Yes, the way you use your hips in the swing is important, but there are plenty of other important fundamentals as well. Work on sharpening up your performance in all areas – including the way your hips clear through the hitting area – in order to actually improve your game in a substantial way.
All of the instruction below is based on a right handed golfer. If you happen to play left handed, please take a moment to reverse the directions as necessary.
Getting It Started
The moment that your swing changes direction – from backswing to downswing – is perhaps the single most-important moment in the entire swinging action. Yes, it can be considered even more important than impact, because a good transition is going to lead you into a quality impact position. As you might have guessed by now, the hips are going to play a crucial role in helping you make this transition seamlessly. In fact, it is your hips that are going to lead the way when it comes to initiating the downswing.
As you get close to the top of your golf swing going back, things are going to start to slow down. Your shoulder rotation is going to begin to slow as it comes to a stop, and your hands (and the club itself) are going to slow down as well. There is only so far that you can go back, so once you arrive at the end you need to find a way to start up in the other direction. This is where the hips come into play. As your backswing is ending – even before it has actually ended – you need to use your hips to start moving the downswing toward the target. Your left hip should be the first part of your entire body to move toward the target, as it opens to the target line and starts the task of turning left. The golf swing is a rotational action, and it is the job of the hips to lead the way in terms of downswing rotation. With a great turn to the left from your hips, the rest of your body will be able to follow along for the ride.
Most likely, learning how to use your hips to start the downswing action is going to be quite a change from your current technique. Most amateur golfers start the downswing with their hands and arms, which is why most amateurs are not able to generate the same kind of power that is seen in the professional game. Also, the habit of starting the swing with the arms can lead to a slice, another common problem among amateur players. If you are used to starting your downswing with your hands and arms instead of your hips, you are going to have plenty of work to do in order to make this change successfully.
The good news is this – it can be done. There is no reason you have to be stuck with your current technique, as long as you are willing to put in plenty of hard work to make the change effectively. One of the keys to making any change in your golf swing is the willingness to step outside of your comfort zone during practice sessions. If you stick only to what is comfortable and familiar, you are never going to make any actual improvements. If, on the other hand, you are willing to try new things – even if they feel uncomfortable at first – you will have the opportunity to take big strides in the right direction. Before heading out to practice an improved hip action, make sure you are committed to the process and wont' be deterred by some early struggles. There are sure to be challenges, and you will have to see it through to the end if you want to improve your game.
To learn how to use your hips properly during the transition of your swing, it may be best to start out by practicing without even using a club. Take your normal stance (without a club in your hands), and pretend to make a swing. At the top, focus on using your hips to start your body rotation to the left, and swing through to a full finish. Repeat this practice drill as many times as you would like before adding in the club. By starting without the club, you can pay more attention to the way your hips are moving without thinking about how the club is going to come through the hitting area. Even just a few practice swings without the club will give you a great start toward learning how to use your hips to drive the transition.
See It Through
Unfortunately, your work is not finished when you manage to start off your downswing by using your hips. Once you have started the downswing with the hips, you then need to carry that hip action on through to the finish in order to be successful with the swing as a whole. This The title of this article references the action of 'clearing your hips', and that is exactly what we are discussing in this section. Clearing your hips means getting them through the hitting area before the club arrives, which you should be able to do successfully now that you are starting the downswing with proper hip rotation.
It is a good start to be using your hips to initiate the downswing, but the job will not be done until the ball is gone and you are holding your balanced finish position. To make sure you give your swing the best chance at success, you need to keep turning your hips all the way through the swing. When you are finished, your belt buckle should be pointing at the target, as this is a sign that you have done a great job with your hip rotation all the way through. Many golfers fail to finish the job when it comes to hip rotation, as they give up on using their lower body and instead finish the swing just by using their hands and arms to send the club through impact. Any benefit you gained from using your hips in the transition will be wasted if you fail to finish the job all the way through. Focus on arriving at a balanced finished and keep turning that left hip to the left until the swing has concluded.
If you are struggling to do a good job of turning all the way through the shot, consider using the following tips as a way to get yourself on the right track.
- Focus on your left heel. Many amateur golfers have a tendency to lift their left heel up off the ground as they swing down through impact – a move that will make it hard for your hips to continue on to the finish. If you notice that this is a problem in your swing, focus on keeping that left heel down on the ground all the way through your swing and into the finish. By keeping the left heel down, it will be easier to rotate your hips and your swing should have more speed as a result. Also, you won't be changing the level of your body by going up and down on your left foot, so you should find that it becomes easier to make solid contact at impact as well.
- Be committed. A big part of being successful on this point is simply committing yourself to the shot at hand. When you have doubts in the back of your mind related to the shot you are hitting, you are far more likely to give up on your hip rotation in an effort to 'guide' the ball toward the target with your hands. You never want to fall into this trap. Before you stand over the ball to make a swing, commit yourself to both the target line and the club you have selected. With that commitment in the back of your mind, you can then step up to the shot and swing confidently all the way to a full finish.
- Don't see the ball as a stop sign. Another issue that plagues many golfers with regard to hip rotation in the downswing is swinging down to the ball – and then pretty much stopping the swing at that point. You shouldn't see the ball as a stop sign for your swing. Instead, you should just look at it as a point along the way. Your swing should go from address all the way to a full finish without any sense of hesitation. If you are only thinking about swinging down to the ball at stopping there, your hips are going to naturally give up on their rotation prematurely. Right from the start, you should be thinking about getting to that full finish, as a great finish position is a sure sign of a quality golf swing.
There are really two different things you need to work on in order to make sure your hips are clearing through the hitting area nicely. First, you need to use your hips to start the downswing. This move will put your hips out in front of the action, and it will make it easier for you to build power in your swing. Then, once your hips have started things off nicely, you need to continue that hip rotation all the way through to the finish. By combining those two elements, your swing will suddenly become much more powerful and you will be capable of hitting shots that you previously thought to be impossible.
Hip Rotation is Always Important
It takes a fair amount of work to learn how to use your hips correctly in the golf swing. There is going to be plenty of practice involved, and you will probably go through some ups and downs on the course before you really breakthrough and have success with this fundamental piece of the swing puzzle. Sadly, many golfers who spend the time to learn how to use their hips correctly never manage to get the most out of their efforts as they wind up wasting their practice time by failing to use hip rotation on all of their shots.
How does this happen? Usually, it happens when a player finds shots on the course that don't require the use of a full-power golf swing. If you run into a wedge shot that only requires you to hit the ball with about 75% of your usual power, you might be tempted into making an arms-only swing where your hips really never fire through the ball. While that might seem like the right way to go about it, that is not a strategy that is going to be successful. Instead of getting rid of your hip rotation, you want to limit the length of your swing in order to take some distance off of the shot. Also, you may make some pre-swing adjustments to your stance and ball position to alter the ball flight as well. In other words, it is not your hip rotation that should be changed in order to adapt your swing to the shot in front of you – keep your hip rotation the same and make other adjustments to customize your shot as needed.
It is important to keep your hip rotation constant from swing to swing because it plays a big role in the timing of your swing. If you come up short on your hip rotation on some of your shorter shots, you are going to find that it is difficult to hit those shots cleanly. This is an easy mistake to make, but it is one that is going to cost you some of your best scoring chances throughout the course of a day. On the driving range, work on learning how to make smaller swings that still use hip rotation as their main source of power. It will take some practice before you are comfortable with your ability to control distance on these kinds of shots, but your touch should come around relatively quickly.
If you are going from a golf swing that used very little hip rotation to a swing that is using a lot of hip rotation, there are a number of adjustments that you need to make in order to score well with your new swing. This is a common point of frustration for many golfers – after improving their swing technique, many players find that they don't actually score much better out on the course. Why is that? Because they have not adapted to their new game from a strategic standpoint.
The first thing you are going to need to do is adjust your aim on full swings. Most likely, you have been aiming out to the right of the target up until this point, as most players with poor hip rotation have to aim right in order to pull the ball back toward the target. Now that your hips are working properly, you probably aren't pulling the ball anymore – meaning there is no longer a need to aim to the right. This is a point you can work on dialing in on the practice range. Figure out where the ball is going in comparison to your aim and then use that information to aim properly when you are on the course.
The other main adjustment you will need to make is to your club selection. It is a virtual certainty that you are going to be hitting the ball farther with your improved hip rotation than you were previously, so you are going to have to re-learn your yardages. Since you can't count on driving range yardages to apply on the course, you will need to learn your new numbers on-the-fly during your first few rounds with the new swing. Take notes to remind yourself of how far you have been hitting the ball with various clubs, and you should soon have a pretty good understanding of your distance capabilities.
Golfers tend to be stubborn, but you can't afford to be stubborn when it comes to adapting your game to your new swing. The only way you are going to be able to turn your new and improved swing into lower scores is if you are willing to adjust the way you play the game to match up with your new ball flight. Old habits can be hard to break, so be patient with yourself and commit to the process of using new aim points and new club selections. It always feels like these transitions take longer than they really do, so it should only be a few rounds before you are quite comfortable with your improved game.
Hip rotation deserves to be in the middle of any conversation about the fundamentals on the game of golf. It is hard to hit powerful and accurate shots without using your hips correctly, yet most amateur golfers fail to get their hips involved in the swing in a meaningful way. Use the information above to work on this important point and you can look forward to longer and more-accurate golf shots in the months and years ahead.