There are a lot of moving parts in the golf swing.

The Right Techniques To Turn Your Hips Through the Ball and Into the Finish

Even a relatively simple swing is going to require input from a variety of parts of the body if it is going to be successful. Players who simply try to stand over the ball and swing their arms back and forth in order to hit the shot are destined to fail right from the start. You need to integrate virtually your entire body into the swinging action if you are going to develop the kind of power and control that are required to play this game problem.

In this article, we are going to focus on the way your hips should be working during the swing. Specifically, we are going to talk about what it means to clear your hips in the golf swing, and how doing so successfully can help you to become a better ball striker. Of course, nothing in the golf swing happens in a vacuum, so we’ll also need to talk about a variety of other swing elements which can combine with hip movement to produce a quality move through the ball.

Don’t make the mistake of taking hip action for granted in the swing. Many amateur golfers never manage to figure out how to use their hips correctly, and their game falls short of its potential as a result. Using your hips properly can unlock a significant amount of untapped power, but don’t expect it to be easy. Just like anything else in golf, it is going to take plenty of hard work and focus on the driving range if you are going to be successful in this endeavor.

All of the content 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.

A Simple Definition

A Simple Definition

You may have previously heard other golfers or golf instructors talk about the need to clear your hips properly in the swing. Or, maybe you have heard a television commentator talk about how a given player does a great job of getting his or her hips through the shot. What does this mean? What does proper hip movement look like in the golf swing, and how can it benefit your game as a whole? Let’s look into these questions in this section.

First, we need to say that proper hip movement in the backswing looks like nothing at all. Ideally, there will be very little – if any – movement in your hips as you swing up to the top of the backswing. You want to do your best to keep your lower body stable to act as a platform on which you can rotate your upper body away from the target. While it’s okay to allow for a little hip rotation on the way back, this should not be a prominent feature in your backswing. Try to keep the lower half of your body quiet in the backswing so your upper body can put you in a good position.

It is during the downswing when the concept of clearing your hips will come into play. The idea is very simple – to ‘clear’ your hips means to move all the way through the ball and into the finish, to the point that your hips wind up roughly perpendicular to the target line. When you see a golfer standing in a balanced finish position watching the ball fly, you can be sure that player did a good job of clearing their hips in the downswing. Without clearing your hips successfully, you won’t be able to make it all the way to a full finish, and you will wind up with a weak, ineffective swing as a result.

So, clearing your hips means nothing more than turning your hips (and the rest of your lower body) through the ball and into the finish. But why do you want to use this kind of technique? What do you stand to gain? The points below will highlight how clearing your hips can help you play better golf.

  • Pick up the pace. A big part of the motivation for clearing your hips comes down to wanting to deliver as much power as possible into the ball at the moment of impact. The action of turning your hips toward the target in the downswing has a powerful effect, as it can help you carry speed from the downswing all the way through impact and on into the finish. Hip rotation is largely responsible for the ‘easy power’ that so many professional golfers seem to possess. It doesn’t look like most pro golfers are swinging all that hard, and yet they send the ball out around 300 yards or beyond with regularity. Part of their ability to do this comes down to the way they use their hips. Turning your hips hard toward the target in the downswing is going to create tremendous rotational forces in your swing, and that power should be translated out to the club head.
  • Put everything in position. More than just trying to build power, clearing your hips can also help put you into the perfect position for a solid strike at the bottom of the swing. Good lower body rotation will put your center of gravity just past the position of the ball, letting you hit down through impact with ease. Players who struggle to clear their hips often also have trouble hitting down, since they are hanging back on their right side during the downswing. Do you currently have trouble hitting down through the ball to take a divot with your iron shots? If so, it is likely that your hip turn is leaving something to be desired. Learn how to get your lower body through the ball in the downswing and your ball striking issues may clear up in short order.
  • Finish the job. During the backswing and the initial stages of the downswing, you are working hard to put the club in a position to hit a good shot. Unfortunately, that hard work can be undone if you fail to move your hips all the way through the ball. When you stop your hip rotation before you are fully cleared, it is likely that the club will be forced off line prior to reaching the ball. And, even if you do manage to keep the club swinging in the right direction, you might not be able to square up the face at impact in order to hit an accurate shot. Clearing your hips successfully is the best way to keep the club swinging down in the right direction all the way through the ball.

Clearing your hips is not a particularly complicated topic to understand, but it can offer powerful benefits to your swing as a whole. We hope you now have a clear picture of what it means to get your hips through the shot, and we hope you understand why it is important. In the next section, we are going to provide some advice on how you can make this happen time after time.

The Basic Fundamentals

The Basic Fundamentals

It is all well and good to understand what it means to clear your hips in the golf swing. That information is only going to be helpful, however, if you know how to put it to use. You can’t just decide to clear your hips and suddenly have it happen – you need to know what you are trying to do, and you need to have a plan to bring that goal to fruition.

The list below highlights the key fundamentals which will need to come together if you are going to clear your hips correctly.

  • The first move from the top. This is the key to the whole thing. If you only remember one thing from this article, let it be this point. When you arrive at the top of the backswing, you are going to need to do something to change the direction of your swing. To this point, you have been turning everything to the right, away from the target. Now, you need to make a sudden change and begin to turn everything to the left, toward the target. If you are going to create a powerful, effective golf swing, it should be your hips that lead the charge at the beginning of the downswing. As you may already know, countless amateur golfers go wrong on this point. Instead of letting the hips lead the way, they start the downswing by pushing their hands away from their body and down toward the ball. This is all wrong, and it will lead to a slice more often than not. Not only should your hips be the first thing to turn open toward the target after the backswing, you shouldn’t even wait for the backswing to finish before you start turning your hips. As your shoulder turn is winding down and the club is reaching the top of the swing, you should already be turning your hips to the left. By overlapping the backswing and downswing just slightly, you can create a smooth transition which will help you produce a consistent, repeatable swing.
  • Avoid the slide. In the point above, we talked about how you need to initiate the downswing by turning your hips open to the target. It is crucial that the first move from the top is indeed a rotation to the left, rather than a slide. This is an extremely common mistake, and it is one from which it is nearly impossible to recover. If you allow your left hip to slide toward the target rather than turning it left, you are going to ruin your balance right from the start of the downswing. Your lower body will ‘run away’ to the left, and your upper body will be forced to lean to the right to compensate. If you currently have a pattern of hitting fat shots, there is a good chance that you are sliding to the left with your lower body. The tricky thing about this swing mistake is that is doesn’t have to be a dramatic move in order for things to go wrong. Simply sliding just slightly to the left before you get your rotation going could be enough to lead you to a disappointing shot.
  • Get all the way back. It is possible to set yourself up for failure in regard to the hip turn before the backswing is even completed. Some golfers get into the habit of cutting their backswing short, rushing the transition and moving the club down before they’ve had a chance to turn all the way to the right.
  • This is a problem because the lower body is not going to have the time it needs to get started. If you cut your shoulder turn and arm swing off prematurely, you’ll struggle to get your hips turning toward the target like they should. Instead, you’ll wind up pushing the club down toward the ball with your arms, which is a rather weak way to make a swing. This is a common mistake among those who hit a slice.
  • Keep your left foot down. Most golfers don’t spend too much time thinking about footwork. And, for the most part, that’s just fine. There isn’t a lot of footwork involved in the golf swing, as the feet generally play a passive role from start to finish. In fact, you will start to run into trouble if your feet become too active, which is exactly the point we are addressing here.
  • Some golfers develop the habit of letting their left heel come up off the ground during the early stages of the downswing. When this happens, a couple of negative things will happen to your swing. For one thing, you’ll raise the level of your entire body, making it harder to achieve clean contact at the bottom.
  • Also, and more relevant to this discussion, you will slow down or even stop your hip turn. It is hard to keep rotating to the left while you are also raising your body up onto your toes, so the hip turn is almost certain to suffer as a result of this move. Should you happen to notice this habit in your game, spend some time on the range trying to keep your left foot down flat while you make swings. It might be a bit of an awkward transition for a while, but you should get the hang of it relatively quickly.

It is important to have the basic fundamentals in place if you are going to clear your hips successfully swing after swing. If you can check off each of the points above, it’s nearly certain you will be on the right track.

Other Supporting Keys

Other Supporting Keys

In addition to the basic movements and positions you need in order to clear your hips, there are also some ‘supporting roles’ which need to be played if you are going to build a great swing. If you miss on any of the points below, you may find it difficult to clear your hips as desired. Let’s get right into our list of supporting keys.

  • Flex in your knees. This is probably the most important point on this list. If your hips are going to be able to do their job effectively, you need to make sure that you maintain at least some degree of flex in your knees throughout the swing.
  • Keeping your knees flexed is a basic fundamental of the golf swing as a whole, and it is certainly important here. Your legs are going to be more active and supportive when your knees are at least a bit flexed, and you need that support in order to turn your hips hard to the left without losing balance.
  • Sit down into your stance slightly at address and then maintain that flex all the way through the backswing and into the downswing.
  • Stable head position. Again here, we find a core fundamental that is important for a variety of reasons. When you keep your head steady, you should find it easier to turn aggressively while still striking the ball cleanly at the bottom.
  • Should you allow too much head movement in your swing, you might still be able to clear your hips – but you’ll probably struggle to make good contact time after time. Consistency is key in golf, and you are only going to be consistent if your head is stable while the club swings around your body.
  • A stable grip. You might not think much about your grip when working on your hip turn, but the grip is something that has an impact on every other part of your swing. It is important to have a stable grip so you can maintain control of the club face while turning hard to the left in the downswing.
  • If the club is not secure in your hands, or if your grip is such that it’s difficult to control the club face, you may hit a lot of wild shots as the club whips through the ball unpredictably. For most amateur golfers, turning the grip into a slightly stronger position at address – turning the left hand a bit to the right on the grip – is a good way to stabilize the club face through the hitting area.

Basically, you want the fundamentals of the rest of your swing to be in good condition if you are going to work on clearing your hips. If you feel that some of your other fundamentals are lacking – such as the points above – work on improving those areas of your performance first before you get down to work on your hip turn.

Final Thoughts on Clearing the Hips

Final Thoughts on Clearing the Hips

By this point in the article, you should have a pretty good understanding of what it means to clear your hips in the golf swing. Before we wrap things up, there are a few final points we’d like to make.

  • Short game is a different story. You can take everything you’ve learned in this article and toss it out the window when thinking about the short game. Generally speaking, you aren’t going to need to clear your hips on your short game shots, since you won’t be trying to hit the ball any kind of significant distance.
  • Stability is the name of the game in the short game, so build a solid stance and hold yourself steady while swinging your wedge or putter back and through the ball.
  • Don’t take it too far. Yes, it is important to clear your hips in the downswing. No, you shouldn’t go so far on this point that it winds up affecting other parts of your technique.
  • You need to maintain good balance in your swing, and you need to be able to strike the ball cleanly time after time. If you notice that your effort to clear your hips aggressively is having a negative impact on other parts of your technique, try to tone it down a bit.
  • Give yourself time. If you head out to the range to work on your ability to clear your hips through the ball, you may expect great things to happen in short order.
  • Of course, such rapid improvement rarely occurs in golf, so you will be setting yourself up for disappointment. Instead, plan on making slow and steady progress. Be patient and look for signs along the way that your swing is going in the right direction.

The ability to clear your hips through the downswing is something that can take your golf game to new heights. Proper use of your hips can improve both your ability to generate power and your ability to strike solid shots, which is a powerful combination. We hope the content in this article will point you in the right direction as you seek to add this element to your golf swing.

Here's a Q&A on the right techniques to turn your hips through the ball and into the finish in the context of golf:

Q: Why is it important to turn the hips through the ball and into the finish in golf? A: Turning the hips through the ball and into the finish is crucial for generating power, achieving proper weight transfer, and maintaining balance in the golf swing. It contributes to a fluid and efficient swing sequence.

Q: What role do the hips play in generating power in the golf swing? A: The hips are a major source of power in the golf swing. Initiating and correctly timing the hip rotation allows for the transfer of energy from the lower body to the upper body, ultimately increasing clubhead speed.

Q: How should I initiate the hip turn through the ball? A: Start the downswing by initiating the hip turn toward the target. This rotational movement should be gradual and controlled, allowing the lower body to lead the downswing.

Q: Are there specific drills to improve hip rotation through the ball? A: Yes, hip rotation drills can be beneficial. One common drill is to practice slow-motion swings, focusing on the sequential rotation of the hips. Another drill involves using an alignment stick across your hips to ensure proper rotation.

Q: Should I feel a weight shift as I turn my hips through the ball? A: Yes, a natural weight shift should occur as you turn your hips through the ball. The weight should transfer from your back foot to your front foot, promoting a powerful and well-balanced swing.

Q: How can I ensure proper hip rotation into the finish? A: Focus on maintaining a smooth and continuous hip rotation into the finish. Your belt buckle should face the target, and your weight should be predominantly on the front foot as you complete the swing.

Q: Is it important to engage the core muscles for hip rotation? A: Yes, engaging your core muscles helps stabilize your spine and supports efficient hip rotation. A strong core contributes to better balance and control throughout the swing.

Q: What common mistakes should I avoid when turning my hips through the ball? A: Avoid over-rotating or under-rotating the hips. Over-rotation can lead to loss of balance, while under-rotation may result in a lack of power. Strive for a balanced and controlled hip turn.

Q: How does hip rotation contribute to a proper finish in the golf swing? A: Proper hip rotation is essential for a balanced and graceful finish in the golf swing. It allows your body to move in a coordinated manner, promoting a full and complete follow-through.

Remember, individual variations in swing mechanics exist, and seeking guidance from a golf professional can provide personalized advice based on your specific needs and abilities. Regular practice and focus on hip rotation can lead to improved performance on the golf course.