What is posture? The word posture is commonly used by teaching and playing pros. The implication being that good posture is something to aspire to. Yet interestingly, the books written by top players and teaching pros are littered with examples of poor posture, often in pictures of high level players posing as models. Watch a tournament on TV and it will only take a few seconds to find a top player with forward head posture, increased thoracic kyphosis (middle back curvature) and either flattened or excessive lumbar curvatures (Figure 1A & B).
Figure 1-A Figure 1-B
Poor posture – forward head posture, Good Posture
increased thoracic kyphosis
and excessive lumbar curvatures
Why then do you suppose everyone is so mentally conscious of posture, yet fails to demonstrate good alignment physically? The teaching pro is all too often just like the parent reprimanding the child, "Stand up straight boy!" (Figure 2). He or she has just as bad posture as the golfers who are being corrected.
The player wanting to improve his or her handicap should not take posture lightly. Few realize that posture is directly related to three of the five factors that control ball flight (Figure 3) To develop a consistent swing that allows optimal ball placement requires a basic knowledge of posture and a comprehensive effort to integrate both static posture and dynamic posture into your game.
Figure 3 – BALL CONTROL AND PHYSICAL FACTOR CORRELATION
STATIC POSTURE may be defined as "the position from which movement begins and ends." Therefore, if you have poor posture at address, you are very likely to express that poor posture throughout your entire swing. It is no surprise that top teaching pros like David Leadbetter say, "The quality of your ‘static’ position at the set-up pretty much determines the quality of your body motion and your balance." (1). From a biomechanical perspective, your spine angle at address must stay as fixed as possible until the point of impact. Failure to maintain optimal alignment and spinal axis is expressed through the dynamic aspects of posture and the swing.
DYNAMIC POSTURE may be defined as "the ability to maintain an optimal instantaneous axis of rotation in any combination of movement planes at any time in space." (2). Such swing and ball control factors as swing plane, angle of attack, clubface alignment and hitting the sweet spot are all directly related to your dynamic postural performance.
As a simple analogy, you can think of your spine as an axis of rotation (like a crankshaft) and your arms as a means by which motion at the axis is expressed (like the connecting rod). If your spinal axis is faulty and expresses the exaggerated curvatures that go hand in hand with poor posture, your capacity to rotate efficiently will be significantly reduced, often robbing clubhead speed. If your spinal axis is well aligned, you are far more efficient and are likely to realize potential clubhead speed and distance (Figure 4).
This diagram represents the human spine as a top. When the rotational axis is well aligned, rotation about a consistent axis is achievable. The diagram on the right shows that as posture degenerates, optimal rotational axis is lost, resulting in an inconsistent swing axis; the origin of an inability to maintain optimal swing plane and clubface alignment!
Although posture is a common buzz work among teaching and playing pros, there is very little sound information available regarding how to restore good postural alignment or to condition specific stabilizer muscles such as the transversus abdominis and spinal erectors, whose functions are essential to good posture. Many of the conditioning programs for golfers fail to improve posture and so subsequently fail to make significant, lasting improvements in the golfer’s game. A well-designed, three-month program is needed for most people to restore stabilizer function and to correct static and dynamic posture. Such a program can be found in The Golf Biomechanic’s Manual. After completing this program, you will be so amazed at the changes in your game I am sure you will want to continue with your golf-specific conditioning; The Golf Biomechanic’s Manual describes another nine months of programs for achieving golf performance.
- Leadbetter D. "Faults and Fixes" Harper Perennial, 1993.
- Chek, P. "The Golf Biomechanics Manual" C.H.E.K Institute, 1999.