The golf swing is a complex array of twisting, rotating and occasionally thrusting muscle groups and joints, each of which could be referred to as a pivot.
To break the swing down into manageable chunks, we can divide the back swing and the through swing into two main pivot points. These pivot points are the hips. A pivot is the central point, pin, or shaft on which a mechanism turns or oscillates. In the back swing, the body turns around the right hip, and in the down swing the body turns around the left hip (for a right handed golfer).
The back swing works in a sequence of movements in order of the hands, arms, shoulders, torso and finally, the hips. This kinetic sequence reverses itself during the down swing when the hips lead followed by the torso, shoulders, arms and then the hands. To use the thought of pivoting from each hip during the swing can be extremely useful and concentrates the mind on rotating around a single point rather than several.
Here is how you can practice pivoting during the swing.
1. Take a solid set up and posture at address, correctly aligning yourself to the target.
2. During the back swing, follow the conventional kinetic sequence of the hands, arms, shoulders, torso and hips.
3. During the back swing, however, feel like the body weight is making a very slight lateral movement on to the right leg. This is only very slight and should not be confused with a large movement or sway.
4. This lateral movement should place the weight into the right hip which doesn't move away laterally from the ball but begins to turn very slightly.
5. Be careful the right hip doesn't turn back too much. From this slightly rotated position, the rest of the body can now begin to turn and pivot around the right hip.
6. As you turn to the top of the swing, the body has pivoted around the right hip and is coiled ready to release into the ball.
7. Now it's time to pivot with the left hip. Follow the kinetic sequence of hips, torso, shoulders, arms and hands. This time, turn into the left hip which again rotates around the body.
8. Turn into the left hip with the same slight lateral movement and pivot and rotate around that point.
9. By using the two hips in this way, you should be able to deliver a great deal of punch and power into the shot.
Thinking of the hips as pivots is not an easy concept to understand at first. However, with practice it can become a very useful way of picturing and feeling the swing.
What is the Pivot Point in the Golf Swing?
The golf swing is all about the pivot. It is the pivot that you make during your swing that will largely determine how hard you are able to hit the ball, and how accurately you hit it as well. Many amateur golfers attempt to slide back and forth through the shot, but this is a mistake – the main movement of the body should be a pivot, rather than a slide. When you learn how to pivot correctly, the club will be able to accelerate around that pivot point and you will unlock power potential that you may not have known was hiding within your swing.
Most golfers would love to find more power in their swing, but few know where to look. Often, amateur players resort to swing trying to swing as hard as possible in order to force the ball further down the fairway. Not surprisingly, this is a technique that is rarely effective. If you would like to add distance to your shots, forget about swinging harder and try instead to swing more efficiently. An efficient swing is one that makes the most of the power available, and that usually means pivoting cleanly around a central point. Without a clean pivot, you are going to wasting power at some point in your swing – and that is waste that you will never be able to recover.
Have you ever wondered what 'secret' the professional golfers use to hit the ball so powerfully while it doesn't look like they are trying that hard? Many pros make swings that look free and effortless, yet the ball rockets down the fairway well beyond 300 yards with no trouble at all. How do they do it? Well, if there is a 'secret' to this kind of effortless power, it is the pivot that we are going to discuss in this article. When you use a proper pivot, the club will accelerate incredibly quickly in the final moments leading up to impact. In the end, you are left with a swing that doesn't look that aggressive or powerful, but succeeds in sending the ball impressive distances toward the target. It will take plenty of time and practice in order to master this sort of 'effortless power', but you will be rewarded in the end when you see the kinds of shots you are able to create.
If you decide that you are going to work on your pivot point in order to improve your ball striking, it is important to remember that you don't actually need to overhaul your entire swing in order to get better at this game. It is great to work on improving various parts of your technique, but your underlying swing style should remain the same. The swing that comes naturally to you is the one you should stick with – you should simply try to improve it a bit at a time until your performance meets with your expectations.
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.
Two Types of Pivot
When you talk about a pivot in the golf swing, you can actually be referring to two separate events – the pivot of your body around your center of gravity, and the pivot of the club around your hands as it comes down into impact. These two things are separate but related, and both of them need to be executed correctly if you wish to strike the ball up to your potential. A good pivot with your body will help you to set the stage for a powerful strike, while a great pivot with the club at the bottom of the swing will be the 'pay off' – it will give you the speed you need to hit long shots toward the target.
Unfortunately, amateur golfers often get both of these pivots wrong. The following points highlight how the two key pivots in the golf swing usually go wrong for the average player.
- Body pivot. The body pivot is usually done incorrectly because the average golfer slides from side to side as they swing, rather than pivoting around a central point. Ideally, you would keep your center of gravity relatively stationary in the swing while your body rotates back and through. Sure, you will move slightly to the left in the downswing as the club comes into impact but you shouldn't be sliding dramatically in either direction. Any lateral motion that you make is going to take away from your pivot, and that is a bad thing. The best way to make sure you are pivoting properly is to focus on your balance as the number one key in your swing. If you are on balance, you should be making a nice pivot. Most amateur golfers lose their balance at one point of the swing or another, and they are unable to pivot correctly as a result. During your upcoming practice sessions, work on balance as the key ingredient in your swing. A balanced golfer is one who will most likely be pivoting correctly – and quality ball striking shouldn't be far behind.
- Club pivot around the hands. When your hands get down into a position where they are nearly over top of the ball in the downswing, the club should be ready to pivot around spot that your hands are occupying. However, that is only going to happen if the club head is still lagging behind the hands correctly. That will be the case with a good golfer, but a less accomplished player may have already wasted that lag. If you allow the club to release before you get down toward impact, your pivot will be gone and so will much of the power potential that your swing once had. Don't let that happen. During the downswing, do everything you can to let the club head trail behind as you swing down toward impact. Keep your right hand out of the action and pull down with the back of your left hand aggressively. When you execute this move correctly, the pivot of the club around your hands will happen naturally as you approach impact. At first, it will be hard to trust this kind of swing, but stick with it until it becomes more natural. Once you are comfortable with letting the club lag, you will find that you can create powerful shots with surprisingly little effort.
It might seem relatively simple to only need to get two pivot points right in your golf swing, but plenty of work will need to be put in if you are going to master both the body pivot and the club pivot. If you are anything like most other average golfers, you probably struggle with one or both of these points in the swing currently. Spend some time in the near future on the driving range working on these pivots and the quality of your ball striking should take a nice step forward.
Solving the Balance Equation
Like so many other things in golf, a good pivot often comes down to good balance. If you are balanced throughout your swing, it will be relatively easy to pivot correctly. If not, you are always going to struggle – even if you are making a conscious effort to integrate the pivot to your technique. So, with that said, the obvious goal for you in your practice sessions should be to improve your balance as quickly and effectively as possible. But how do you do that? The following tips should help –
- Start out balanced. This should be an extremely obvious point, but it is one that is missed by many golfers. If you don't start out in a comfortable, balanced position, it will be nearly impossible for you to find your balance and then keep it throughout the rest of the swing. As you stand over the ball, balance your weight evenly between your two feet and make sure you are in an athletic position with your knees flexed and back straight. You should feel steady at address, not as though you are leaning and about to fall over. Believe it or not, a big portion of the balance 'war' can be won at address – get your stance right and it will be pretty easy to stay balanced for the rest of the swing.
- Avoid the temptation to over swing. By far, the biggest cause of lost balance in the golf swing is trying to swing too hard. We already mentioned how damaging it can be to swing as hard as you can, and this is the main reason why that is a problem. You are almost certainly going to lose your balance when you swing as hard as possible, meaning you will probably make poor contact and the ball will fly off target. It is usually the backswing that gets long and out of control when a player over swings while in search of extra distance. Pay attention to the length of your backswing and keep it tightened up in order to place an emphasis on your balance. Players who are able to start balanced and then are also able to control the length of the backswing will rarely have trouble with balance at any point in the motion.
- Sit into your stance. Flexing your knees at address is another important point that should not be overlooked as you work on your balance. With a fair amount of flex in your knees as you stand over the ball, you should be able to maintain your balance far easier than if you stood straight-legged while getting ready to swing. The flex that you place in your knees will help you hold steady while the club moves quickly around your body – without that flex, the motion of the club would have no trouble pulling you to one side or the other.
- Wear good shoes. Believe it or not, your footwear can play a big role in how well you are able to keep your balance as you swing. Some golfers wander out onto the course just wearing tennis shoes – or worn out old golf shoes – and they have very little traction as a result. Losing your footing while you swing is a sure way to lose your balance, and even if you only slip a little you will likely see the result of your shot negatively affected. You don't have to spend hundreds of dollars on fancy golf shoes, but you should at least wear a decent pair that feel good on your feet and provide you with plenty of traction. When your feet are firmly in place on the turf as you swing, there will be one less variable to worry about when it comes to keeping your balance.
Balance is the first, second, and third rules of the golf swing – it is just that important. If you take nothing else away from this article, at least take away the fact that you need to stay balanced while making a swing. With good balance, your ball striking will be cleaner, you will generate more power, you will feel more confident, and you will simply play better overall. Balance is not something that requires tremendous skill or talent to master, it is just a matter of good fundamentals and some consistent practice. Take the time to work on your balance during each practice session and your game is sure to improve as a result.
Mastering the Pivot of the Club
If there is one part of the swing that gives amateur golfers more trouble than just about anything else in this challenging game, is is the task of lagging the club down into impact so that the club can pivot properly around the hands. This is something that nearly every professional golfer does perfectly, yet most amateurs fall well short of this goal. As was mentioned above, it is essential that you learn how to pivot the club around your hands through the hitting area if you want to reach your power and consistency potential.
Of course, if it was easy to lag the club correctly down into the ball, this would be such a sticking point for so many players. In reality, this is a skill that can be quite difficult to learn, and it can be even more difficult to trust out on the course even after you have learned it. For many amateurs, it feels as though they are going to miss the ball completely when they swing in this manner, so they give up on it and release the club early just to ensure that they will make contact. In order to pivot the club around your hands successfully, you are going to need plenty of trust in your ability, as well as plenty of practice time to engrain the right habits into your body.
One of the best ways to learn how to lag the club is to make some one handed swings while hitting chip shots. Yes, you will eventually need to move up to hitting full shots while pivoting the club around your hands if you want to take your game to a new level, but starting small with chip and pitch shots is a good idea. To practice this idea, find a place near the practice chipping green where you can safely hit some one handed chips shots – ideally it will be a place where nothing (and no one) is going to get hit by an errant chip if one happens to come off your club. With a few balls placed down around 20 or 30 yards from the target, try to pitch them up to the hole while only using your left hand. Your right hand should be tucked away in your pocket or behind your back while completing this drill.
So, what is the point of chipping with one hand? Well, without your right hand on the club to release the club early, you will basically have no choice but to hold the angle nicely down into the ball. Once you start to make good contact (which could take a bit of practice), you will feel the ball coming off of the club with impressive speed and there will be a very solid feeling at impact. These factors are both due to the lag that you are using on the way down. Lag the club down toward the ball and allow the club to pivot around the point that your left hand establishes over top of the ball around impact – the rest will take care of itself.
After a period of time spent practicing with one hand, put your right hand back on the club and gradually increase the distance of your shots and the size of your swing. Of course, it is important that you manage to keep your right hand out of the downswing even when it is back on the club. If you use too much right hand coming down, the club will release early and the benefits of the pivot will be lost. This is a process that is likely going to take weeks or months to come together, rather than just a couple of practice sessions. Make sure you focus on keeping your right hand under control in the downswing, and also be sure that your backswing doesn't get too long as you build back up to a full swing. With those points checked off, you will be on your way to a repeatable, powerful golf swing that features a dynamic pivot of the club around your hands just prior to impact.
The Putting Stroke is Pivot Free
When you step onto the putting green and you pull your putter from the bag, you can quickly forget about everything you have learned above. For the purposes of rolling the ball along the green with your putter, you will want to use no pivoting action at all. You don't need to develop power or speed when putting, and that is what pivoting is designed to do. Rather than looking for speed, you are simply looking for control and accuracy while you putt, so there is no need to involve any kind of a pivot. Instead, you are going to keep everything as stable as possible as you move the putter back and through the stroke.
Instead of hinging your wrists and holding the angle down into the ball on the way forward, you are going to keep your wrists in a steady position and use your shoulders the rock the putter into the ball. There should be no movement in your wrists whatsoever, as any movement in the hands or wrists while putting is going to twist the putter face off line. Also, hand action in the putting stroke will make it difficult to control your distance properly, and distance control is the name of the game when it comes to putting successfully.
Of course, your body should not be pivoting in the putting stroke either. Rather than rotating around a stable center of gravity as you do in the full swing, your body should simply remain as stable as possible while you putt. There is going to be movement in your shoulders, of course, as you need to rock them back and through in order to move the club, but that should be about it. Your lower body should be steady as a rock, and your head should be still as well. When you are able to remove as many moving parts as possible from your putting stroke, you will be able to perform at your highest possible level.
Pivoting, while not a part of putting, is a huge part of the game of golf as a whole. If you can learn how to use your pivots correctly, both with your body and with the club, you should see a great improvement in the quality of your ball striking. Work on the tips and ideas presented in the content above, and you will be well on your way toward a better golfing future.