The Power of the Golf Swing – Proximal Deceleration

Golf Swing – Proximal Deceleration

I managed to watch some of Rory McIlroy winning again at the weekend. What a fantastic player and what a great swing! His ball striking is second to none, but how does a someone of 5 foot 10 and 11 ½ stone average over 300 yards with his driver? Answer; His ability to decelerate!

As you can see on this video of his swing, McIlroy creates tremendous acceleration through rotation of his lower body. This creates what is known as the ‘x-factor stretch’ (nothing to do with the TV programme)

This creates huge eccentric loading to the abdominals and upper limbs especially considering that he produces 700+ degree of hip rotation per second!

But how does he hit the ball and not fall over?
Rory’s ability to decelerate this incredible rotational speed is what gives him his fantastic bal striking and distance off the tee. This proximal deceleration come from the lower body, feet to hips and creates amazing upper body acceleration. If we think about whipping a towel or cracking a whip, you have to accelerate in one direction then quickly stop or move in the opposite direction. This is what creates the speed at the furthest point from the centre, in a golf scenario – the club.
Looking at Rory’s hips just prior to impact, you can see the hips almost rotate in back, which further increases the centrifugal forces generated by the body to increase his club head speed.

We need to keep this concept in mind when thinking about the physical training and assessment of golfers at this and any level. Can the golfer create and decelerate these rotational forces.

An example of this would be a lateral lunge to the left whilst rotating the arms to the left, this could be progressed to a lateral lunge with balance whilst rotating the arms. This exercise demands that the body decelerates the lateral and ground reaction forces from the bottom-up and also the rotational forces from the top-down, which has a lot of similarities to the golf swing.

For further information on functional training for golf see
Nike Golf 360 Performance Specialist

Mark Leyland MCSP FAFS Locker 27, Brooklands, Surrey KT13 0YF

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